Awkward Black Girl: The Gospel of Issa Rae

This entry is part 3 of 2 in the series College: What the F@#k Even Was That?

I want to say I discovered Issa Rae during my freshman year of college. 2015, two years after Awkward Black Girl and two years before the news that her new show, Insecure, hit the blogs. In that year and a half, I basically stalked Issa Rae’s career. I watched every press junket, internet blog interview, screening appearance, everything. I was high key obsessed. When I came across ABG, (on Tumblr – an era for another post) I thought the shit was fucking hilarious. I had, hands down, never seen anything so relatable.

I too was an awkward black girl.

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And I had never felt so understood. I was already in my feelings about what the plan was for after college. I was meeting a lot of new people and having the same cringy, awkward ass moments and it really gave me peace of mind to know I wasn’t the only bitch out here wondering what the hell was really going on.

So meantime, in between time, my bitch Issa was cookin. I had subscribed to her YouTube channel Issa Rae Presents – where she is still producing and releasing phenomenal content, btw – and I followed her on Instagram.

For a while there was chatter about something about a show called “I Hate L.A. Dudes” that was supposedly in the works. She mentioned it a couple times in some interview clips that I’d seen. A few months passed on that and crickets. I rewatched ABG.

Then she released her book, titled The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. I didn’t get around to reading it until a few months ago, actually.

As a broke ass junior in undergrad, I couldn’t afford any leisure reading.

But I read all the rave reviews it got and watched as many interviews from her book tour as I could. She did some public readings of excerpts from the books and even the stories she was telling about her own upbringing were so relatable to some of my own experiences growing up.

This bitch – I liked her. She got me.

I forget where she announced that she’d made secured the bag on Insecure with HBO, but I shrieked!

All this time, I had been rooting for her and now, it was go time.

And then the trailer came out fall semester, junior year. And bitch, I was too hype.

The show went on to break records and set precedents. Not even half way through season one, it came out that they had been renewed for a second season. And it was a phenomenal first season. Black Twitter immediately schism-ed into Team Issa or Team Lawrence and just like that, Issa had the game on lock.

Golden Globe noms, Covergirl, another season of Insecure

Above all, Issa was proof that if you just start with what you have simply on the faith that your shit is dope, the results can be monumental.

Her success inspired me more and more to leap out on faith in my own life (i.e. figuring out a way to bounce tf outta MS) off the strength that the things that I create are also dope.

Moral of the story: My sis is poppin’ right now and she really just wants niggas to eat with her. For me, the most enlightening thing she ever said was “Network around, not up.” Because that’s the squad that’s going to hold you down when you pop.

 

 

I Used To Be a Purist, but I’ve Seen the Light

Today in Black History, I want to give thanks for Audible.

I sit here typing this, listening to Jenifer Lewis’ memoire The Mother of Black Hollywood on Audible wondering why I hadn’t adopted Audible earlier.

I was one of those kids who was hated on for reading and didn’t really talk much. And because I was black, that just took it way too far.

“That’s so white.”

*wy prsn*: You never heard [insert popular hip hop/rap song]. I’m more black than you are.”

“You such an oreo.”

So, this is an ode to Audible. I stanned down for shit like Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl and the like. (I just never saw it for Lord of the Rings. sorrynotsorry.) And though I remember trying to imagine some of the characters as people of color, later movie adaptations later showed me that I was clearly wrong. lol.

Now, as of late, it’s really been a gaggle of undoubtedly and unapologetically black people writing books, and I’ve been lit for them, but since I’ve been in college, I haven’t had time to read them.

Over time, I’ve rationalized my double consciousness by associating a sense of pride with my reading because… embracing your insecurities and all that. And I really felt like if I couldn’t sit down and read a book, I was lacking in some way, which then contributed to feelings of anxiety and depression and blah blah blah.

Eventually I realized I had to get off of my high horse. And yeah, it was a high horse that I had mounted to distance myself from the illiterates.

But today in Black History, I’ve come to my senses.

When Issa Rae came on the radar with her memoire, Awkward Black Girl, I made plans to buy the book. However, I was deep into my major at the time and had to buy a lot of other books for class readings. So, I never got around to buying it. And I was still team fuck audio books.

But growing up, getting older, and trying to live out here has made me realize that, no one with two part time occupations just trying to pay rent (i.e. a regular bitch) has time to sit down and read. One thing I’m realizing is that time is truly a luxury – and an expensive one, at that.

I hear a lot of parallels in the aspirations of Mother Lewis and myself. Her move to the big city from a small town. Her drive to hit the ground running and storming the cabaret and Broadway theater scene like she had always dreamed.

And to think I could’ve robbed myself of all this inspiration and revelation.

There’s an influx of black women, and black people, in general, writing and I live for it. Jenifer Lewis, Issa Rae, Shonda Rhimes, Tiffany Haddish. These are the stories I needed as a youth.

But better late than never, I suppose.