Book Review: You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson

A hilarious and affecting essay collection about race, gender, and pop culture from celebrated stand-up comedian and WNYC podcaster Phoebe Robinson.

Phoebe Robinson is a stand-up comic, which means that, often, her everyday experiences become points of comedic fodder. And as a black woman in America, she maintains, sometimes you need to have a sense of humor to deal with the absurdity you are handed on the daily. Robinson has experienced her fair share over the years: she's been unceremoniously relegated to the role of "the black friend," as if she is somehow the authority on all things racial; she's been questioned about her love of U2 and Billy Joel ("isn t that . . . white people music?"); she's been called "uppity" for having an opinion in the workplace; she's been followed around stores by security guards; and yes, people do ask her whether they can touch her hair all. the. time. Now, she's ready to take these topics to the page and she s going to make you laugh as she s doing it.

Using her trademark wit alongside pop-culture references galore, Robinson explores everything from why Lisa Bonet is "Queen. Bae. Jesus," to breaking down the terrible nature of casting calls, to giving her less-than-traditional advice to the future female president, and demanding that the NFL clean up its act, all told in the same conversational voice that launched her podcast, "2 Dope Queens," to the top spot on iTunes. As personal as it is political, "You Can't Touch My Hair" examines our cultural climate and skewers our biases with humor and heart, announcing Robinson as a writer on the rise."
I forgot how I came across this book, but I'm so glad I did. You Can't Touch My Hair is an honest book on what it's like to be a black woman in 2016 America. The pop culture references are spot  on and most of Robinson's joke made me almost literally Laugh Out Loud (the only reason I didn't most of time is because I was reading in public and didn't want to get strange looks).

That being said, this book is totally for black woman and I appreciate that Robinson didn't shy away from black women's truth just to make anyone reading this book feel comfortable. A non-ethnic person could learn the honest truth about what it's like to be an ethnic person from this book ( if they're truly interested). I found that while some of the chapters started off heavy on the humor, they ended on a very serious and heartfelt note. There were moments that had me "amening" all over the place because they were just so unbelievably relateable.

If you're not up-to-date on your pop culture, then a lot of the jokes might go over your head. This might be one of the only down sides to this book. Not getting the pop culture references may completely ruin the heart of the book. Keep in mind, Robinson is a comedian so it makes sense for her to blend pop culture, humor and politcs all together. Even if you don't understand the popculture references it's ok, because the experience of being black is way more than a Friends reference.

It wasn't until the last chapter: Letters to Olivia that I got slightly bored with the book. This chapter feels like it is just rehashing everything that's already been very well said. I skimmed this chapter before ending the book.

I totally recommend this If you find yourself saying "I don't get this. I can't relate to this," then this book is still for you. You could deffinitly read and learn from it. For the love of God, if you don't take away anything from this book, don't touch a black girl's hair. You're not giving them a compliment, you're treating them like a cute puppy. I had it happen to me and it is not fun being treated like a cute puppy.

4/5  Stars

Buy it now on Amazon


  1. Great review. I remember reading about this book in one of my magazines and I was very interested in it. I'm glad you did a review. It's definitely going on my TBR list..

    You know it's funny because when I was a little girl I had bright blonde hair.
    People would touch it . " I wish I had hair that blonde again" is what a lot of the older ladies would say, and then they would run their hands through my hair like I was a magic eight ball !

    This happened to me a handful of times and once as an adult.

    i've been guilty of touching hair when I was younger.

    At the time I thought it was complementary but I had to remember how I felt as a child being pawed on.

    So yeah I think this is a great book for everybody. It sounds like it's humorous and intelligent and we all need to put ourselves in the other person shoes once in a while.

    So yeah I know I'm rambling. LOL again wonderful review thank you


Post a Comment