Cover image for You can't touch my hair : and other things I still have to explain / Phoebe Robinson.
Title:
You can't touch my hair : and other things I still have to explain / Phoebe Robinson.
Title Variants:
You can not touch my hair
ISBN:
9780143129202
Publication Information:
New York, New York : Plume Book, [2016]
Physical Description:
xxxii, 285 pages ; 21 cm
Contents:
From Little Rock Nine to nappy hair, don't care in eighteen & half-ish years -- A brief history of black hair in film, TV, music, & media -- My nine favorite not-so-guilty pleasures -- Welcome to being black -- Dear future female president: my list of demands -- How to avoid being the black friend -- Uppity -- Casting calls for people of color that were not written by people of color -- The angry black woman myth -- People, places, & things that need to do better -- Letters to Olivia.
Abstract:
A hilarious and affecting essay collection about race, gender, and pop culture from celebrated stand-up comedian and WNYC podcaster Phoebe Robinson.

Being a Black woman in American means contending with old prejudices and fresh absurdities. Robinson uses her trademark wit to explore examine our cultural climate and skewer our biases with humor and heart.
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1 Bob Harkins Branch 792.76028092 ROB Book Adult General Collection
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Summary

Summary

Phoebe Robinson is a stand-up comic, which means that comedic fodder runs through her everyday life. And as a black woman in America, she asserts, sometimes you need to have a sense of humor to deal with the nonsense you are handed every day. And Robinson has experienced her fair share over the years, not lest the people who ask her whether they can touch her hair. All. The. Time. Now, she's ready to take these topics to the page. As personal as it is political, You Can't Touch My Hair is an utterly modern essay collection: one that examines our cultural climate and skewers our biases.


Author Notes

PHOEBE ROBINSON is a stand-up comedian, writer, and actress whom Vulture.com, Essence , and Esquire have named one of the top comedians to watch. She has appeared on NBC's Late Night with Seth Meyers and Last Call with Carson Daly ; Comedy Central's Broad City , The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore , and @midnight with Chris Hardwick ; as well as the new Jill Soloway pilot for Amazon I Love Dick . Robinson's writing has been featured in The Village Voice and on Glamour.com, TheDailyBeast.com, VanityFair.com, Vulture.com, and NYTimes.com. She was also a staff writer on MTV's hit talking head show, Girl Code , as well as a consultant on season three of Broad City . Most recently, she created and starred in Refinery29's web series Woke Bae and, alongside Jessica Williams of The Daily Show , she is the creator and costar of the hit WNYC podcast 2 Dope Queens as well as the host of the new WNYC podcast Sooo Many White Guys . Robinson lives and performs stand-up in Brooklyn, NY, and you can read her weekly musings about race, gender, and pop culture on her blog, Blaria.com (aka Black Daria).


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Robinson, a stand-up comedian and host of the WNYC podcast 2 Dope Queens, brings a funny and original voice to her debut book of essays, combining personal experience with social commentary on race, gender, and pop culture. Moving, poignant, witty, and funny, Robinson takes on America's "tumultuous" relationship with African-American hair, providing a history of black hair on the stage and screen as well as her own relationship with her hair (she didn't go natural until after she finished high school). In other essays, she rants about the way the NFL treats women, discusses the demands she'd make on the first female U.S. president, and explains how to avoid being the token black friend. Robinson reveals how she uses her humor to survive the indignities that go along with being black in America, such as being followed around while shopping in stores or being called "uppity" for expressing her wishes to a white director. This is a promising debut by a talented, genuinely funny writer. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Blending memoir and social commentary, this debut book by comedian, writer, and actress Robinson (cohost of the podcast 2 Dope Queens) reflects on pop culture and modern black womanhood. From the hot combs of her childhood to the transition to natural hair after high school, Robinson candidly shares her hair journey and reminds black women that our hair determines how we'll be treated. Robinson discusses icons of black hair (Grace Jones, Lisa Bonet, and -Lupita Nyong'o, among others) and the greatest TV moment for black women thus far: Viola Davis removing her wig on How To Get Away With Murder. Refusing to believe in the idea of guilty pleasures, the author relays her love of U2, fan fiction, and WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) while explaining that blackness is not a monolith. "For people of color, having a strong sense of self often feels like a Sisyphean task every single day." To aid in self-care, she presents practical advice on how to avoid being "The Black Friend" and how not to internalize sexism and racism. Later chapters offer a critique of Hollywood casting calls and boast the benefits of online shopping. VERDICT A thought-provoking collection of essays that will find a welcome home among black women and general readers who appreciate the humor in everyday situations. [See "Editors' Fall Picks, LJ 9/1/16, p. 29.]-Stephanie Sendaula, Library Journal © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof*** Copyright © 2016 Phoebe Robinson FOREWORD   Work wife (n): That person at your job (same or op- posite sex) that takes the place of your "at home" spouse while you are at work (this is not a sexual rela- tionship). You talk with, connect to, and relate to this person as good as or better than you do your "at home" spouse with regards to all things work-related. (Source: www.UrbanDictionary.com)   Phoebe Robinson is my work wife. We've been official for about two years now, ever since we met on a field piece I was shooting for The Daily Show, which led to us starting our live show and podcast, 2 Dope Queens. Even though our careers keep us busy, I am happy to report that our relation- ship is still going strong. Phoebe still texts me pictures of Bono about once a week and asks me if I would "smash" him. (My answer is still, "Fuck no, never in a million years.") She still refers to me as either her Oprah or her Gayle depending on what kind of day we are having. She still tells terrible dudes at bars that insist on having shitty conversations with us to Please buzz off. I'm in my thirties. She always says, My eggs are dying. I don't have time to hang out with any- body that I don't want to. Fair enough. And even though Phoebe is only thirty-one, and I am twenty-six, she still insists on giving me the most weathered advice possible, as if she has seen some shit. Advice like: "Doggy style is a great position to have sex in, that way you can have a little bit of you time. You can get some work done, you can think about your taxes or about what groceries you need to get tomorrow. . . ." She somehow manages to say this with all of the wisdom and strength of Cicely Tyson. That's Phoebe, though. When I first met Phoebe, she introduced herself to me, but she didn't even have to--I had already known about her because she was a black lady involved with Upright Citizens Brigade, who also mostly dated white dudes. I could blame my previous knowledge of her on the fact that UCB is a small community, but I ain't gotta lie to kick it. I had low-key stalked her before meeting her that day. Anyway, she didn't pick up any red flags from me, so she invited me to cohost her monthly live show, "Blaria," at UCB. Our first show together was like a great first date. I found out onstage that night that Phoebe was able to vocalize things that were deeply important to me. That being a black woman and a feminist is a full-time job. Like, #fuckthepatriarchy even though we both usually date white dudes who look vitamin D deficient and probably burn in the sun too easily. That black lives do matter. And that we You Can't Touch My Hair both think that Carrie Bradshaw was a fucking stupid idiot for breaking up with Aiden for Mr. Big. Like, really? The man is a carpenter; he could literally make her furniture. And he even bought the apartment next door to hers so he could com- bine the two. The man wanted to MacGyver her living space! I think I can speak on behalf of all straight women every- where when I say, "Hi, hello! Sign me up for that, please!" Clearly, Phoebe and I were bonding at a rapid pace and, after the show, I knew that being friends with and performing with Phoebe Robinson was good for my soul and I wanted to continue to do that as much as I could. This is how our podcast 2 Dope Queens was born. Phoebe's ability to talk about the importance of bell hooks as well as her dreams of hooking up with Colin Firth are a part of what makes her so wonderful. She is a badass black feminist and somehow manages to stay #woke while not taking herself too seriously. She is delightfully petty in that way that leaves us giggling and talking shit about everyone around us when we go out for drinks. And she is brilliant onstage. Even with all of the comedy shows that we have done together, Phoebe still manages to surprise me and make me laugh until I pee on myself a little bit by accident. She is one of my best friends, and I am so excited that you bought this book and are about to spend time with one of my favorite people on this frequently shitty little miserable planet that we call Earth. Last New Year's Eve, my boyfriend and I did shrooms and talked about the lovely texture of the couch while we watched the ball drop in Times Square on TV. After the countdown, I asked my boyfriend what his New Year's resolution was. He said, "I think it's to be more like Phoebe." So I thought about all of Phoebe's qualities for a second--her brilliance, her strong values, her beauty, her humor, and her strength. All of those things are what makes Phoebe wonderful. Not only is she my work wife, she's my shero. "Hell yeah," I said. "I want to be more like Phoebe, too."  -- Jessica Williams   INTRODUCTION   The other day, I was thinking about the first time someone of a different race gave me a lady boner. It was more than seventeen years ago--February 24th, 1999, to be exact--and I was watching the GRAMMYs. Let me give you a little bit of background about myself during this time. I was a fourteen- year-old movie nerd and an "everything school-related" slacker. I'd often refer to myself as a "tomboy," until I learned that liking and watching sports but not actually being good at them does not make you a tomboy, it makes you a human. So, yes, I was a fourteen-year-old sports and movie lovin' person/nerd, who thought that watching award shows was the bomb.tumblr.com, probably because I'd never won anything myself. So seeing people at the height of their artistic achievements was the ultimate fantasyland for me: I cried along with Hilary Swank as she graciously accepted a best actress Oscar for her performance in Boys Don't Cry. I pretended I was up there with Lauryn Hill when she did a touching and intimate rendition of "To Zion" right before snagging a GRAMMY for Album of the Year. And I laughed when Italian actor Roberto Benigni ('memba him?), who was so overjoyed at winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, that he walked on the backs of people's seats to get to the stage. Award shows gave me hope that maybe I would also do something equally as impressive with my life, that I could have a future outside of Cleveland, Ohio. Nothing against the Cleve, but I just had a feeling something cool outside those city limits awaited me. Watching these awards shows was my way of preparing for my future successes, I told myself, and was way more inter- esting than, say, studying for chemistry class. And in my eyes, there was truly no greater award show than the 1999 GRAMMYs. During this golden age of pop culture achieve- ments, Hill was the belle of the ball, Madonna was killing it in her " Ray of Light, earth mother phase," and Will Smith won Best Rap Solo Performance for "Gettin' Jiggy wit It." I know. Looking back on it now, it's kind of ridic.edu that out of all the songs nominated, including Hill's "Lost Ones" and Jay Z's "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)," that Smith won Best Rap Solo Performance. But the '90s were full of bad choices, OK? Like guys in boy bands wearing golf visors when they weren't golfing, the movie Battlefield Earth, Lou Bega and his "Mambo No. 5" bullshit, pizza bagels, the Gulf War, Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton wearing short shorts on the basketball court, and me spending three weeks trying to memorize the lyrics to Barenaked Ladies's "One Week"--after those twenty-one days, all I got down was: "Chickity China, the Chinese chicken." Three weeks, guys! That's all I got! The point is, in the '90s, mistakes were made. Lessons were learned. And thanks to Ricky Martin's "The Cup of Life" performance at the 1999 GRAMMYs, I learned that my vajeen is capable of quaking over nonblack dudes the way the glass of water did in Jurassic Park when dinosaurs were nearby. Martin may now be considered a slightly cheesy performer whose music is only played as a throwback jam at a wedding or bar mitzvah, but think back to '99. Martin was gorgeous, he sang with passion and swag, and he commanded the stage like he knew this set was going to be his breakout moment into the English-speaking music market. He was so dreamy . And it didn't hurt that he could work those hips. Simply put, I was stunned. I was in love, but I was also surprised--I was never really drawn to a nonblack guy like this before. Not that I was ever anti- nonblack dudes; they just never really were on my radar because they didn't look like me. And I think that most folks would agree with me when I say that it's human nature to be drawn to people who look like us, especially when we're younger and not very exposed to the world. So that first time I felt attracted to someone outside of my race, it felt, for a moment . . . transcendental. As in, I, Phoebe Robinson, had transcended past race! That I was capable of seeing people and not their skin color. In other words: I was (drumroll, please) postracial . Look, dude and lady boners can do a lot. They help create babies, embarrass their owners for appearing at inopportune times, and make people overlook flaws in others--such as having a boring personality or being a DJ--because the boner is too busy giving a thumbs up to an attractive person the way the Terminator does at the end of T2 when he is drowning in hot lava. But existing as a signal of postracial living? Nice try, but no. Sexually desiring someone who does not share your skin tone is not some grand sign that society is becoming postracial, no matter what anyone tells you. The truth is, people love throwing the term postracial around. Americans are so anxious to move on from the sins of our fore- fathers that we're on the lookout for any and every symbol that our national nightmare of racism is over. And finding someone who is a different complexion than us hot is a quick way of saying, "See? We did it! Racism solved!" But sexual attraction is just the tip ( heh ) of the iceberg. It seems like we've been looking for our "get out of jail free, we're postracial" pass for quite some time. Even though the term "postracial" is everywhere these days, it's actually been part of our lexicon for some time. It was first used in a 1971 New York Times article titled "Compact Set Up for 'Post-Racial' South," which claimed that the topic of race was going to be usurped by concerns of population increase, industrial development, and economic fluctuations. Ever since then, "postracial" has been marched out fairly regularly any time something positive happens for POCs (aka people of color). Taiwanese-American basketball player Jeremy Lin being an NBA star? Postracial! Mexican cooks at a Jamaican jerk-chicken restaurant? Postracial! My bestie Jess (who you met in the foreword) and I being up- graded to the front row at a Billy Joel concert just because? [1]  Postracial! A white makeup artist rubbing my legs down with lotion to prevent me from getting ashy./She knows what ashy is?!?![2] Postracial! You get the picture. And to many, there is no greater symbol that the postracial era is upon us as when Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. No matter where you stand politically, there's no denying that in 2008, we were coming off the heels of a presidency that left the country disillusioned thanks to 9/11, the war in Afghanistan, and Hurricane Katrina. So when Obama appeared on the national scene with a message of hope, change, and "yes, we can!" much of the country happily got sucked into this tornado of positivity, and it seemed like anything--like a postracial society--was possible. I totally understand the reasoning behind this line of thinking. His election is certainly historical, and along with it, came a sense of hope and change. But as a nation, we are far from the "everyone holding hands in racial harmony" that we assumed would happen once Obama was ushered into of- fice. In fact, throughout the Obama years, there has been, at the very best, resistance to change, and at the very worst, a palpable regression in the way the country views and handles--or more accurately, refuses to handle--race. We only have to turn on the nightly news to witness the significant uptick in police brutality toward black men and women. Eric Garner. Trayvon Martin. Sandra Bland. Laquan McDonald. Rekia Boyd. Yvette Smith. Shereese Francis. Timo- thy Russell. Malissa Williams. Sean Bell. Oscar Grant. Miriam Carey. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. MappingPoliceVio lence.org states 37 percent of unarmed people killed by police last year were black, even though blacks only make up 13 percent of the US population. These types of deaths are happening with such frequency that it's almost impossible to keep track of each individual case and mourn the loss of life before another victim appears. Oof. Unfortunately, this is not just an American problem. This sort of police brutality is a worldwide phenome- non. Additionally, the UK's the Guardian newspaper published research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) which stated that "police forces are up to 28 times more likely to use stop-and-search powers against black people than white people and may be breaking the law" to do so. While these incidents are devastating, the average per- son experiences racism in lesser life-threatening ways. Micro-aggressions, or slights/snubs/insults, that reinforce marginalization of a particular group, are the more common way that racism manifests on a daily basis. Normally, my run-ins with racism come in the form of jokes that I "talk white" or that I'm not like " other black people," as if that is some sort of compliment. Other times, I may find out that I have lost out on a job in entertainment because they wanted a white woman instead. All of those are, unfortunately, standard issue, and while they are upsetting in the moment, I tend to use that mixture of anger and sadness to propel me forward. I would have run out of tears a loooong time ago if I let every time someone was racist toward me devastate me. Still, even though I'm fairly used to micro-aggressions, there are those occasional situations that manage to surprise me, and not the "I found a $20 dollar bill in a winter-coat pocket" good type of surprise. I'm talking like the "Aunt Flo decided to visit when I just put on a brand-new pair of my Victoria Secret 5-for-$25" type of bad surprise, as was the case with my recent Uber ride. To properly set the scene, you must know two things: One, I had just finished working out at the gym and decided to treat myself to a cab ride home. Yes, this is trifling, but when you're so single that your Apple TV remote has its own side of the bed, you really try to do anything to make your- self feel special, hence the Uber; and two, my driver looked like Villain #4 from the Taken movies, you know, just real Slavic AF, so for the purposes of this story, he will be known as Taken Face. OK, now to the story. During the drive home, Taken Face got into a fight with a belligerent white driver and yelled, "Fuck you, nigga," while Bill Withers's "Lovely Day" played in the background, which, as a friend later told me, "if this were a romantic comedy directed by Spike Lee, this would be your meet-cute."[3] Unfortunately, this wasn't a movie, but real life. And in real life, there's always that awkward moment when a white per- son realizes they just said the N-word in the presence of a black person, so the white person makes the same face that Dustin Hoffman made in Rain Man when he was assessing how many toothpicks were on the ground. Taken Face quickly came to the conclusion that literally anything would have been better than saying a racial slur to the other driver. So next comes the apology, right? Wrong. Instead, Taken Face tried to make amends with me by showing me pictures of his barely brown daughter. L to the O to the L. Clearly, Taken Face was doing this as if to say, "We're cool about what I just said because she's brown . . . and you're brown." Nope.com. Let me just say this right now, in case there's any confusion in 2016: if you're a white person and you have references on standby to verify that you're allowed to say the N-word, you are probably the last person on planet Earth who should be saying "nigga." Your over-preparedness is very suspicious, and makes you the Tracy Flick of racism. How about instead you use those type-A powers for good and teach the world something useful, like how to fold a fitted sheet properly? In all seriousness, incidents like these happen so regularly that it's impossible to believe that the racism of the past simply disappeared the moment Obama was elected. So what do we do? Perhaps the first logical step is to retire the term "postracial America." Because much like the '90s New York Knicks basketball team that was never quite good enough to win the big kahuna, but had a lot of heart, the concept of "postracial America" is an also-ran that tried its damnedest to succeed. Obama is not a deus ex machina- type figure, whose mere presence righted all our nation's wrongs. The truth is, evolution is slow, glacial even, and it cannot occur without people doing difficult and painful work. That doesn't sound like a whole heck of a lot of fun, which is precisely why it hasn't happened yet. But there's an even harder truth to accept: The kind of growth required to move past race is nearly impossible to achieve because racism is rooted in the foundation of America. (Ahem, the Three-Fifths Compromise of our Constitution, anyone?) Without awareness or acknowledgement of how these things have left a permanent stain on our country, then no amount of blind hope is going to remedy the erosion that race and racism have done to this country. It is something that, until then, people like bell hooks and Ta-Nehisi Coates, and yes, people like me, will fight to explain. Believe me, it's not something I necessarily want to do. I don't wake up every day going, "Aaah! Time to break down institutional racism to people before Kathie Lee and Hoda drink their body weight in Franzia and host the fourth hour of the TODAY show." Honestly, I would be just fine spending my time finally perfecting the dance breakdown from Janet Jackson's "If" music video or finally taking an art history course just for funsies or, you know, enjoying the luxury of being a multilayered person like white dudes are allowed to be, but that's just not how things are. So because I, like many of my friends and family, am on the receiving end of racism, and I, unlike many of my friends and family, have a platform--stand-up comedy and writing-- it only makes sense to use it to effect some positive change when it comes to racism, and eventually, one day be right alongside Kathie Lee and Hoda, day drunk out of my mind and ordering sensible cardigans from Net-a-Porter. But don't worry. Even though I discuss race fairly regu- larly, I'm not always operating in "after school special" mode. Sometimes I'm given some hope that we are coming together as a people. Sometimes that hope comes in the form of a friend/ally, who defends me after seeing that I'm being bom- barded with racist comments on Facebook. Other times, that hope reveals itself in far less noble instances. Like the time when I was crashing on the couch of a dear friend in LA, who happens to be white, and a piece of my weave fell out and her dog started to eat it, which forced her fiancé to chase the dog around the living room and wrestle the weave from its mouth, and they were totally chill about it, like this happens to them all the time. Hmm, maybe that's a sign that we're getting closer to living in postracial society. While we wait to see if that the dog-eating-weave moment will end up in history books, I'm using this waiting period as my chance to pull a Clarissa and explain it all. Well, not all. Just three things--my takes on race, gender, and pop culture-- because I'm all about keeping things nice and tight, like the jeans in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. (Seriously, the four actresses in that movie had different body types, yet the jeans still fit Blake Lively like a glove? How is that possible?) Moving on. I think it's time we get started, but before we get into my thoughts on interracial dating (two thumbs up), lady pres- idents (two empty Diva cups up; not risking spillage over here, folks), and Spotify posting notifications to my Facebook wall and letting my friends know that I'm listening to Spice Girls' Greatest Hits album (two middle fingers up like Beyoncé in the "Formation" video), let's start with a fun Q&A, so you can get to know this book and its author a little bit better. One more thing before I start answering your questions. Thank you for buying this book, even though it's not Black History Month Eve! (That's not a real holiday, but it should be. Get Hallmark on the horn, please.) I'm thrilled you recognize that this book is a year-round thing, like deleting your parents' long-ass voice mails without listening to them, or white people wearing shorts. OK, you may begin: How do you spell your name? This may seem like a silly question to those who are thinking, "Uh, just look at the cover, dummy." Never mind those haters! This is an excellent question because when it comes to my name, things like logic and sensibility don't often come into play. Usually, the person will quickly glance at my license or other official document bearing my name, say "Got it," the way I do when a Verizon representative rattles off my 16-digit confirmation number even though all I managed to jot down was the letter "Z," and then hand me something like this: I don't know what happened either, y'all, but it done happened. What was once the name of a character from the TV show Friends has now morphed into the name of a new medicine for restless-leg syndrome. This is all to say that my name is spelled P-H-O-E-B-E, and you'll probably forget that in five minutes, but I love you anyway. And your last name? Kidding! Phoebe, you wrote a book. Why? You know, I could totally take that "why" as, "Hey crazy lady, why did you write something? There's no way it can measure up to the work of Junot Diaz, Tina Fey, or Shakespeare," but instead I'm imagining you meant the "why" in a "Charlie Rose interviewing a celebrity" kind of way, which is, "Let's talk about all the ways you are amazing." Thanks for that, lovely reader, and to answer your question, I wrote this book because of all that sweet, sweet cash unknown first-time authors who had a three-line speaking part on Broad City get. You got paid a lot for this? If by "a lot," you mean, "$50 and a month's worth of salads with five toppings MAXIMUM from Hale & Hearty," then yes, I got paid all the money. I'm kidding about the $50; it was more than that. I'm not kidding about the five toppings maximum rule; Hale & Hearty are some strict mofos. But to answer your "why" question, I'm a comedian, so I have tons of opinions and like to tell them to folks whether they asked or not. So after G-chatting my thoughts about race and gender to one person at a time for several years, I figured why not put everything in a book so people can read them/use the book as a coaster. Thanks. I just have to say, your hair looks pretty cool. That's not a question, but tha-- Can I touch it? And thereeee it is. Nope. You can't touch my hair. Even if my hair catches on fire, do not come to my rescue; just let me do a Michael Jackson spin move to put the blaze out. Honestly, there is nothing I hate more than people groping and marveling in National Geographic esque hushed tones about how my hair feels different than they expected. It's frustrating how something as simple as a quick trip to the supermarket can turn into an impromptu seminar about the history of black hair, during which I'm supposed to clarify where I stand in the #TeamNatural vs. #TeamRelaxer debate, discuss how I think black/white relations are going in America, and admit that if I was less defensive about my hair being touched, racism might be solved in an hour. Uh-oh. There's that r-word again. Is this one of those books that's going to make me feel bad about being white? No. However, I'm going to touch on some heavy and complicated race issues that might make things a little awkward between us for a minute, like when a daughter-in-law finally masters her passive-aggressive mother-in-law's sig- nature dish, and the mother-in-law says, "It's good . . . but a little light on the paprika, no?" But I promise we can survive that level of discomfort. Well, what is this book about then? Well, like I wrote earlier, there are tons of things I still 7 have to explain about being a black lady in this day and age. Such as what it's like to be the black friend (hint: it's annoying), what it's like to be black in general (hint: it's very cool and awesome and also annoying), feminism (see: what it's like to be black in general), and working on-camera as a black lady (none of the clothes fit, and I audition for lots of characters named "Laura" and "Abby," but then lose the parts to actual white ladies named Laura and Abby). Basically all the stuff that makes some dude on the Internet call me a "See You Next Tuesday" is what I'll be discussing here. Back up. Seems like there's a lot of black stuff going on here. But, from some Internet stalking, it seems that your last two boy- friends have been white, you read Nora Ephron books when you're getting your hair did at the salon, and U2 is your favorite band, so . . . Hmm, that wasn't really a question as much as it was an accusation: "You can't be talking all this "blackity black black, blahbity blah blah" stuff when you go home every night to some CW-looking dude." One, my previous white boyfriends have mostly been AMC cute, thank you very much. Two, reading Nora Ephron while a Jamaican lady braids my hair is pretty much the America Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of, and three, sure, I may enjoy what some call "white people stuff," like U2, but that doesn't negate the fact that I'm black, which means that when I go shopping, clerks follow me around their store so much that my family crest motto ought to be Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me." So I don't care how much dad-rock I listen to or how many basic Chris Pine- looking dudes I date, I'm black and I have the receipts to prove it. Literally, I keep all my receipts in order to prove that I'm not stealing from whatever store I walk out of. I don't know. It seems like this book is going to get deep. Will you judge me for wanting to take a nap instead of dealing with race and feminism? Not at all! I mean, I have taken a nap during a pregnancy scare because I was like, "Eh, it can wait." And? My fallopian tubes got all Gandolf-y and said, "You shall not pass," and shut it down. See? If you had taken a nap, you would've missed that completely medically sound and killer pop-culture reference. There are tons of those in this book! You're going to write about pop culture, too? Probably should've opened with that. Fair point. I'll remember that for my next book. As for this book, there will be lots of stuff about the '90s (Hello, Felicity and Moesha!), why my niece should use Lisa Bonet and fictional character Olivia Pope as her life guides, all the amazing moments in black-hair history (I'm looking at you, Angela Davis), and of course, there will definitely be several sentences mentioning actor Michael Fassbender, who's so gorgeous that the mere sight of him will make any straight woman hum "Taps" as she flushes all her birth control down the toilet. OK, this book sounds somewhat more fun. And you seem fun, too! Can I tell people I have a black friend now? Wait, seriously? I'm sorry. You're right. That was inappropriate. To make it up to you, I'm going to postpone my Bones marathon until tomorrow, so I can read this book. Postponing a binge-watch session to read this book is probably the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. And my mom turned her vajayjay into a Six Flags Water Park slide so I could enter the world. Sorry, mom, but you've just been demoted to #2 on my list of awesome people. I feel we've gotten pretty tight over these last few minutes. What if you close your eyes while I touch your hair? And if it still bothers you, I can give you a cookie, too. Hmm, interesting. What kind? Oatmeal raisin? What I'm feeling right now must be what Freddie Prinze Jr. felt when he was saddled with making over Rachael Leigh Cook in She's All That. Screw discussing racism and touching my hair--I now know the biggest challenge of my life: Teaching you what a goddamn cookie is. Sorry about snapping at you just then. It's just that oatmeal-raisin cookies aren't cookies! Ugh, I blame health nuts for perpetuating that fantasy! But enough about that. Time to wrap up this Q&A, which was equal parts fun and informative, like a pap smear! Hey, did you know that if you get a pap smear while Kings of Leon plays in the examining room, it's basically like you're having sex. And sex is fun! Anyway, I feel like we covered some of the basics of what this book and I are all about, so why don't you settle in and get to reading my opinions on everything else, while I go talk to my parents about how I know sex is fun. Mom, Dad, come back! I can explain . . .   ------------------------------ [1] Apparently Billy--he and I are on a first name basis, BTdubs--doesn't like coming out and seeing a bunch of American Psycho looking mofos chilling in the front row with their arms crossed at his concerts. So he has his staff look for women that he would find beautiful and put them in the front row. Is this very #YesAllWomen? Probably not. Is it pretty much the reparations Sojourner Truth envisioned? I'd like to think so. [2] Actually, this is reparations, and if I were the queen of a country, this would be the salutation white people would have to greet me with. [3] For those not up to speed, a meet-cute is when two characters, who are destined to be together, but don't know it yet, first get acquainted and something romantic/adorably embarrassing/something that pits the lovers against each other happens. Like Matthew McConaughey saving Jennifer Lopez when her high heel gets stuck in a sewer grate in The Wedding Planner , or when Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan grow to hate of each other, in a charming way of course, as they drive cross country in When Harry Met Sally . Or in my case, Taken Face and I would eventually get past this N-bomb hiccup and fall in love because he'd buy me a Russian winter hat and I'd teach him how to make potato salad for the fam- ily cookout. Excerpted from You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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