Raise your hand if you thought 2020 was going to be a magical year—bonus points if you used phrases like “20-20 vision” when describing the new vistas you expected to open to you in what turned out to be a deeply disturbing year. Suffice to say, 2020 scoffed at our best laid plans, a moment comedian, actress, producer and writer Phoebe Robinson captures perfectly in her new book of essays, Please Don’t Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes.
“I really wasn’t planning on writing a book during quarantine...truly everything [my boyfriend and] I had planned for 2020, we were both like ‘it’s going to be our year’ like dumbasses—and then it fully was not our year,” Robinson explains on this week’s episode of The Root Presents: It’s Lit! “The one thing that was a good sort of source of normalcy was reading...because I was like, I don’t know what’s going on, but I feel safe with books...I just kind of wanted to speak about this time...And I want people to laugh and sort of see themselves reflected.”
As with her hilarious first bestseller, You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain and its follow-up, Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay, this latest collection is full of relatable moments. It also marks a first for the multi-talented Robinson, as it’s the first release from her publishing imprint with Penguin Random House, Tiny Reparations Books, a companion to her production company of the same name.
“With this imprint I mean I really feel a sense of pride, you know what I mean? Like I love books so much and the publishing industry is overwhelmingly whiiiiiite—which is absurd considering the numbers,” she explained. “And when you think that college educated Black women are actually the biggest readers in this country, it really makes no sense that we’re not better reflected within the industry, that gay people aren’t better reflected in the industry, that women in general aren’t reflected in the industry,” she continued. “I want to have a platform for myself—yes, to get my work out—but I don’t want to be the only voice in the room. So I want to make sure I have space for other people to come in and and show off their talent and get their work out there.”
Hear more from the irrepressible Phoebe Robinson in Episode 50 of The Root Presents: It’s Lit!: How Phoebe Robinson Is Getting Us All Tiny Reparations, available on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Google Podcasts, Amazon, NPR One, TuneIn, and Radio Public.