For the past 10 years, Luvvie Ajayi has built a cult of online readers who flock to her unsparing candor in posts like “Jermaine Jackson’s New Hairline Has Me Upset” and “About Writing While Loving Blackness and Hurting White Feelings.” If that sounds like a peculiar choice of subjects, that’s because Ajayi believes in tonal shifts: “I think people need palate cleansers,” says the 31-year-old Nigerian native, who moved to the United States at age 9.
Ajayi is at her most pointed in her first book, I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual. In all-new essays, Ajayi takes on everything she deems side-eye-worthy, including the culturally ignorant (“People thinking Mama Africa is a big jungle and one giant country makes me stabby”). “When you’re writing your first book, make sure it’s something you want to talk about for the next two years,” says Ajayi—which is why, in addition to chapters on anal bleaching and hair hats (wigs and weaves that resemble hats), the Lake View resident tackles serious topics such as abuse and police brutality.
In June, Ajayi met her personal advice guru when she interviewed Oprah Winfrey at the United State of Women Summit. Afterward, Ajayi told her that she had recently cut off her locks. “I’m stepping into a new phase in my life. I just wrote my first book,” she said. “Ah, you’re moving on up,” Winfrey replied, touching Ajayi’s head. Ajayi later gushed on her blog: “Chile I feel anointed!”