You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism by Amber Ruffin & Lacey Lamar


From racist donut shops to strangers putting their whole hand in her hair, from being mistaken for a prostitute to being mistaken for Harriet Tubman, Lacey Ruffin is a lightning rod for hilariously ridiculous yet all-too-real anecdotes.

She’s the perfect mix of polite, beautiful, petite, and Black that apparently makes people think “I can say whatever I want to this woman.” And now, Amber Ruffin (Writer and performer on Late Night with Seth Meyers)  and Lacey share these entertainingly horrifying stories through their laugh-out-loud sisterly banter.

Quotes for Book Reviews

Painfully relatable or shockingly eye-opening (depending on how often you have personally been followed by security at department stores), this book tackles modern-day racism with the perfect balance of levity and gravity.

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My Thoughts

I talk about race a lot. A lot a lot.

Like, I will kill the vibe by bringing up black-fishing and the historical context of the police in everyday conversations a lot. I often write about race and I use my corner of the internet to scream into the void about racism.

The one place I do not seek it out is my entertainment. That’s not to say I avoid or dislike books or movies in which race is a theme but I don’t go looking for it.

I use entertainment as an escape and I’m not trying to escape into a fantasy land about the brutality and ever-present heavy hand of white supremacy. There’s enough of that in real life. 

With that said, I was on the fence about this book from the title alone. Sometimes I can only take so many front seats to other people’s ignorance before I want to fling the book or throw the remote at the television.

However, this book stood in extremely good company next to Issa Rae’s Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl and Quinta Brunson’s She Memes Well: Essays in my GoodReads suggestions so I pushed the purchase button on my Kindle and dived in. 

I thought the layout was interesting. I enjoyed the conversational tone of the two sisters. Initially, I thought two narrators on the same page would make the book feel disjointed and choppy but it flowed like organic sisterly banter and moved the stories along in a way that may have been harder with one narrator. It was important to juxtapose the two sisters’ professional experiences in one book.

Amber is a successful entertainer working in New York City and Lacey has worked a variety of jobs in Omaha Nebraska. While nowhere is perfect the reality and consequences of racist behavior in their workplaces are vastly different.

Amber recounts how an accident that could be misconstrued as a racist gesture is handled swiftly and seriously by her employer while Lacey recalls a director calling his Black staff “hoodrats” and being surprised that nobody in power found that problematic. 

Some of the stories are so goddamn relatable, that it makes me wonder if we’re all living the same life. When Lacey asks a designer how much a dress is and the woman responds, “expensive” I immediately had a vision like I was on an episode of That’s So Raven.

I thought of the time I went into a Bed Bath and Beyond looking for a raclette and the saleslady clicked her tongue and with a sympathetic voice and  informed me that they only had, “the expensive one.” I bought it and it wasn’t that damn expensive. 

The sisters recall another incident where a grossly ignorant receptionist assumes that Lacey is looking for the WIC office next door instead of the doctor’s office that Lacey is correctly standing in.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with WIC, (a program that aims to safeguard the health of low-income women and children at nutritional risk), or looking for the office.

The issue? In that split second, this white receptionist had to connect a sequence of dots that made her assume the Black woman standing before her was lost and could only be looking for the office that assisted low-income individuals. 

I couldn’t help but remember a similar story of me and my mom in the grocery store. As we got ready to check out and put our items on the conveyor belt a young white teen quickly tells us that they were currently unable to accept EBT.

Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using EBT, (the electronic system that allows individuals to utilize their benefits for groceries and other necessities), but we couldn’t help feeling like an assumption was made.

Would this white teen making minimum wage in rural Maryland have warned everyone that the EBT system was down or just the Black people?

This book is chock full of stories where I can think of obnoxiously similar situations that played out in my own life. It’s supposed to be comical and relatable but I couldn’t help feeling bitter that these occurrences are so common that I, and plenty of others, could come up with a story or three just like it.  

Would I Recommend It?

Yes! Lacey and Amber do an amazing job of peppering comedy in their anecdotes of everyday racism that shouldn’t be funny. For some, these occurrences will feel grossly familiar.

Other people may be appalled and quite possibly disbelieving of the ways Black people and particularly women are inundated with the ignorance pushed upon them in literally every space. I would recommend with the warning: prepare to be irritated.



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