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Phoebe Robinson Feels ‘Hopeful for the Future of Blackness’ This Black History Month

February 26, 2021

We’re so grateful to close out Black History Month with a special interview with multi-talented stand-up comedian, New York Times best-selling writer, actress and (RED) Ambassador Phoebe Robinson. If you follow Phoebe on Instagram, or have watched, read, or listened to any of her work, you know about her fierce commitment to amplifying Black voices and promoting diversity. This week, we spoke with Phoebe about the meaning of Black History Month, her favorite Black-owned businesses and Black authors, and her new imprint, Tiny Reparations Books.

(RED): What does Black History Month mean to you?

PR: It’s a celebration of Blackness, pioneers, and all the ways we have built this country. But Black history needs to be taught year-round because Black history is American history. So I look at this month to feel joyful, proud, and hopeful for the future of Blackness. 

(RED): What inspired you to start Tiny Reparations, and how’s it going?

PR: I love TV and books and always thought both industries could do more in terms of quality representation instead of tokenized representation. I always wanted to have my own imprint and star in TV shows. And seeing the power of the platform that “2 Dope Queens” provided for women, people of color, and folx in the queer community just fuels me to do more. Overall, I think it’s going well. I’m working with amazingly talented people such as Jose Acevedo, my Head of Development at Tiny Reparations and my lead editor Amber Oliver at Tiny Reparations Books. We are building a vision together and I can’t wait for people to see what we’re working on. We’re just so thrilled to be a part of the conversation and a part of the movement that’s pushing things forward.

(RED): Tell us about your favorite Black-owned businesses (and is there one that (RED) just must ask to consider being a partner with us?)

PR: I love Buttah Skin, in particular their cleanser and vibe brush. I swear by their products and Beyoncé shouted this company out, so ya know, you can’t go wrong there. Love Tracee Ellis Ross’ Pattern Beauty. Sewit Sium‘s jewelry is stunning. So is Lorraine West jewelry! Food-wise, I love A Dozen Cousins bean line. Yum!!!

(RED): Which Black authors do you love most, and which of their books should people be reading, and why? 

PR: Oh gosh! So many to choose from! I love Samantha Irby. All her books are hilarious and honest. Love Austin Channing Brown’s “I’m Still Here,” Ijeoma Oluo’s “Mediocre,” Robert Jones, Jr.’s “The Prophets,” Michelle Obama’s “Becoming,” Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman,” and Leah Johnson’s “You Should See Me in a Crown.” All amazing books. Love them. Obviously, the importance of reading Black authors is that they are insanely talented, spark conversation, and make us feel. Black authors should be read year-round and not just in February. And people should read more than books about race by Black authors. We laugh, fall in love, have families, go on adventures. We live full, exciting, delicious lives and weave beautiful stories. We’re continually blessing the world with stunning writing that deserves to be consumed routinely. 

(RED): Finally… if there is one thing you want to get off of your chest this Black History Month, what would it be?

PR: I think I just want Black people to be able to rest. We are asked by society to do so much, be perfect, be excellent, to represent our race and I would just like us to take several moments to sleep and take care of ourselves. To pour back into ourselves rest, peace, positive energy, connection with friends and community. Black History Month should be more than just remembered the dead; it should be a renewal to make the most for those who are living.