Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 4th 2016 by Plume Books
I wasn’t familiar with Phoebe Robinson until after I read this book so I went into it without any idea of who she is and what she does.
You Can’t Touch My Hair provides a fascinating insight into a black woman’s life and the obstacles she has to navigate daily. The meaning of hair and how hair culture is very much a thing that one cannot understand unless one is part of the community.
Robinson talks about the politics of race and gender which informs every person’s daily experiences whether positively or negatively. I most remember her anecdote of being on a reality TV show as a female comedian and the disparate and discriminatory ways in which she was treated–she is not just a woman but she is a black woman which changes things quite substantially.
What also struck me was Robinson’s experience with her previous agent who treated her badly but Robinson, due to the conditioning she has received all her life as a black woman, was unable to speak out until the person went too far.
I enjoyed this book and yes, sometimes the humour read a bit too American for my tastes but on the whole, the book gives an interesting and valuable narrative on gender and race in contemporary America.