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Don't Touch My Hair

Narrated by: Emma Dabiri
Length: 7 hrs and 43 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (143 ratings)

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Summary

Straightened. Stigmatised. 'Tamed'. Celebrated. Erased. Managed. Appropriated. Forever misunderstood. Black hair is never 'just hair'.  

This audiobook is about why black hair matters and how it can be viewed as a blueprint for decolonisation. Emma Dabiri takes us from pre-colonial Africa, through the Harlem Renaissance, Black Power and on to today's Natural Hair Movement, the cultural appropriation wars and beyond. We look at everything from hair capitalists, like Madam C.J. Walker in the early 1900s, to the rise of Shea Moisture today, from women's solidarity and friendship to 'black people time', forgotten African scholars and the dubious provenance of Kim Kardashian's braids.  

The scope of black hairstyling ranges from pop culture to cosmology, from prehistoric times to the (afro)futuristic. Uncovering sophisticated indigenous mathematical systems in black hairstyles, alongside styles that served as secret intelligence networks leading enslaved Africans to freedom, Don't Touch My Hair proves that far from being only hair, black hairstyling culture can be understood as an allegory for black oppression and, ultimately, liberation.

©2019 Emma Dabiri (P)2019 Penguin Books Ltd

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    4 out of 5 stars

Good Hair

I am bored talking and hearing about black women and their hair. Our Hair. I am 53 and have had natural hair for 30 years. I really am bored of the new found interest in how I wear my hair over the last 10years.
I think I liked that I was quite unique but not any more. Now on most days someone stops me to talk about it, offer advice, ask questions about my 'journey' admire my hair and yes, touch it sometimes. The last thing I want to do is read about it.
That is true. Until I saw Emma Dabiri on BBC iPlayer Back to the Future. I was struck my her accessible manner and sought to find more about her.

Don't Touch My Hair too, talks about the beauty of black hair in an accessible manner-the history, the real dilemmas including the emotions, perceptions, cost and more.

I'll be revisiting this book especially as I book marked points to read more about.

Thank you very much Emma Dabiri

4 people found this helpful

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  • 02-12-19

Beautiful.

As a mixed person I found this book to be INCREDIBLY healing & enlightening. I genuinely couldn't recommend this enough. the narrator has a beautiful voice, too.

3 people found this helpful

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An enjoyable learning experience

Emma's voice is easy to listen to which is an important thing for me in terms of an audio book .

As an Irish person it was important for me to hear her experiences growing up in our mutual country which has treated each of us differently. Ireland still has a long way to go to change the narrative for other kids growing up with different hair texture and different skin colour.

I'm glad I listened to what Emma had to share and the history of hair that she shares is fascinating and sobering. I highly recommend this book

2 people found this helpful

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Brilliant read it!

A really fascinating look at the significance of hair and a really interesting look at the long lasting impacts of colonialism. So worth reading!!

2 people found this helpful

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A history & culture lesson in one book

So much to learn from one book. It could easily be a series on the history of African culture

2 people found this helpful

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Fantastic book

This book is amazing. As a woman of Jamaican descent, I found this book to be a reflection of myself. I found my own thoughts and feelings articulated back to me in a way I have never been able to fully express. I have learned things about African culture that I see evidenced in myself and my family. I wish all black people could read this book, particularly those who have descended from slaves, as maybe they can feel connected to the roots and culture that was stolen from them as much as I was. I highly recommend this book, it was a pleasure to listen to and I can't wait to listen to it again. Thank you Emma Dabiri and thank you Audible :)



5 people found this helpful

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Skip the audio and read the book!

This is a good ole rant book wrapped up in black history, sociology, politics and ideology with a bit about black hair thrown in for good measure!

As such, the title I feel, misrepresents the actual nature and content of the book - although it's still a good read, however.

And read the book is what I should have done as the audio version is poor. The author is a terrible narrator of her own work. There were constant changes in tone, pace and energy. It sounded as though Dabiri were bored and uninterested one moment and full of energy and enthusiasm the next. As a result, she makes her own challenging, intellectual and well presented work sound mediocre and lackluster.

Additionally, Dabiri often stumbles over her own words, pauses in places in werid places breaking the flow and I found the sound of her swallowing  irritating.

1 person found this helpful

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First two chapters good but not the rest.

The remaining chapters had less focus on the topic of hair and more on historical racial issues with very tenuous links made to hair. Some hair topics could have been expanded upon within the book, whilst other pertinent hair topics were left out completely.

1 person found this helpful

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Absolutely Amazing

Such a great book, amazing piece of work, presenting historical and current experience of racism through the lens of black hair. Absolutely superb.

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an excellent, enjoyably education listen

I love this audiobook and enjoyed every minute of it! it was highly educational and eyeopening to the history that's never taught in school! will definitely listen again

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  • Mosunmola Adeojo
  • 23-05-19

An insight into the complexity of African identity

First, Emma Dabiri's voice is soothing. Next, the book gives an insight into the complexity of African identities as evident through Black hair. The book provides a historical, sociocultural and theoretical framework of hair making among Africans and people of African descent, focusing on how certain practices have evolved and how EuroAmerican connections stifled the authenticity of Africans. Nonetheless, Africans remained resolute AND despite the attitude of conveniently dismissing the background of most of the world's popular culture, the enduring nature of African creativity is indisputable.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Savonn
  • 20-06-20

More than just the title! A must read!!

I am in awe of Ms. Dabiri's writing style that uses our African Hair as a back-drop to showcase our rich history and culture through prodigy, mathematical genius, architecture kidnapping, the stripping of any humanness to Black Lives Matter. All while touching nearly every continent. i will reread this book again and again. Well done!. x