Tag: Phoebe Robinson

You Can’t Touch My Hair

Cover image for You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinsonby Phoebe Robinson

ISBN 978-0-14-312920-2

“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.”

Phoebe Robinson is a writer and stand-up comedian, as well as the co-host of the comedy podcast 2 Dope Queens with Jessica Williams. You Can’t Touch My Hair is a collection of humourous essays that draw on Robinson’s experiences as a black woman, including “How to Avoid Being the Black Friend,” and “Uppity,” an essay that explores coded language and white guilt. In a style replete with pop-culture references and internet slang, Robinson recounts her relationship with her hair, highlights black hair in the media over the past thirty years, and addresses some of the racism she experiences on a day-to-day basis.

Robinson’s essays hit a range of tones, from mostly humourous to mostly serious. I read the book in print form, but I often found myself wondering if some parts of the book would have been better on the audio version, which Robinson performs. Her more serious essays hit home hard in print form, but delivery is a huge part of comedy. I listened to a couple episodes of 2 Dope Queens after I finished You Can’t Touch My Hair, and suddenly I could much better imagine how Robinson would deliver the material she had written. This might be less of a problem for people who are already familiar with Robinson’s comedy and then pick up her book, but this was my introduction to her. However some of the pieces are definitely best suited to print form, for example the second essay is about black hair in the media, and includes a lot of photos.

Two of the more serious pieces that hit hard were “Uppity” and “The Myth of the Angry Black Woman.” In “Uppity,” Robinson recounts an acting job where she was called uppity by the white director when she asked for a minute to review her lines. After she called out the director, he apologized so profusely, and displayed his guilt so dramatically that Robinson wound up being responsible for consoling him for his racist behaviour. “The Myth of the Angry Black Woman” is a bit meandering to start with, but ends up being just as loaded. Robinson admits that the piece was hard to write, but when she eventually gets down to the point, her story about being the only black student in the senior thesis workshop of her creative writing program is gut-wrenching. The workshop normally enforced a very strict rule that the person whose work was being critiqued had to listen silently to the criticism without defending themselves. But when another student debuted a very racist master/slave romance and Robinson had to give her critique, the white student who had written the piece cried and tried to defend her work, while the rest of the class and the teacher looked on.

The piece that made me laugh the hardest was “Casting Calls for People of Color That Were Not Written by People of Color,” which highlights the absurdities faced by non-white actors. The casting calls are parodied examples that highlight the different types of clichés that are common in roles for people of color created by white writers and directors. I think part of the reason this piece works so well is that it is clearly meant to be delivered in print form, whereas some of the other essays, while funny, seemed like they were intended for verbal delivery but adapted to written form. Overall I am torn about whether to recommend print or audio for this title, as it really is a bit of a hybrid. If you are in it for the comedy, I would say that audio is definitely the route to go.

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You might also like I’m Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi

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24 in 48 and Diverse-a-thon Kick-Off

In a fit of over-ambition, I’ve signed up for two awesome reading events that are taking place over the next week across various social media channels.

Cover images for my readathon TBRToday marks the start of 24 in 48, a read-a-thon during which ambitious participants aim to read for 24 hours out of the 48 hour weekend. I participated for the first time this summer, and succeeded in hitting that goal thanks to a combination of dedicated reading and audio books. Having hit that high bar once, I am planning to rest on my laurels and take a more relaxed approach this time out, and instead use the event to make sure I log a solid block of reading time this weekend.

Overlapping with 24 in 48 is Diverse-a-thon, an event that started on BookTube in September 2016. This is their second outing, which is expanding beyond BookTube to include book bloggers and Bookstagram. The purpose of this read-a-thon is to bolster marginalized writers, and particularly own voices titles. Taking part in this read-a-thon seemed like a natural extension of my participation in the Read Diverse 2017 challenge. This is a longer event that runs from January 22 to 29, which means dedicating an entire week to diverse reads!

So what’s on my TBR for these two events?

24 in 48

The Fate of the Tearling 

Cover image for The Fate of the Tearling by Erika JohansenThe first two books in Erika Johansen’s series, The Queen of the Tearling and The Invasion of the Tearling, introduced an intriguing world that is part fantasy and part dystopian, centering around the ascension of Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, and her fight to retain her throne. This one tops my list because I am curious to get answers to the many questions that were left unanswered at the end of the second book, and also because this is the next book in my stack due back at the library.

In Other Words 

Cover image for In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri It is impossible to have a really good 24 in 48 without audio books, for me at least! Suddenly, necessary chores and exercise are transformed into additional reading time on the clock. Jhumpa Lahiri wrote this book in Italian, and it was translated into English by Ann Goldstein. The audio version is then performed by the author–talk about layers! This autobiographical work describes Lahiri’s 2012 move to Rome in order to immerse herself in the Italian language. I am fascinated by bilingualism, and the process of learning another language, so I can’t wait to check this out.

Diverse-a-thon

You Can’t Touch My Hair 

Cover image for You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe RobinsonPhoebe Robinson is a comedian best known for her podcast, 2 Dope Queens, with Jessica Williams. I have to admit that I have never listened to it, but I discovered this collection on a display at my library. A book of essays seems like the perfect choice for reading in bits and pieces throughout a week-long event. And since I love to laugh while I learn, this seems like a strong pick for getting an own voices perspective on being a black woman in America.  Bonus task: Listen to an episode of 2 Dope Queens sometime this week.

Juliet Takes a Breath 

Cover image for Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby RiveraI’ve seen so many good reviews of Gabby Rivera’s book around the blogosphere, that I finally decided to request it from the library. And what do you know, it landed in my lap just in time for diverse-a-thon. Juliet has just come out to her Puerto Rican family, and is now moving across the country for an intership with her feminist hero, Harlowe Brisbane. But when she arrives in Portland, she quickly realizes that Harlowe’s feminism doesn’t seem to have room for people like her. A story about the importance of intersectional feminism seems like just thing for diverse-a-thon.

Naturally, I reserve the right to shake up my TBR at a whim, as the spirit moves me during the read-a-thon itself. Plans are worthless, after all, even if planning is everything. Now let’s get reading!

Are you participating in 24 in 48 or Diverse-a-thon? What’s on your TBR? Link me up!