Popular cultures always depict black people in a certain type of way. Most of the times, black people are only used as props to their white acquaintances. These stereotypes can be seen a lot in every Hollywood movies and “New York Times appointed” bestseller novels — black women are constantly pictured in mainstream media as sassy, loud, bold, ghetto, and aggressive. All of these picturizations are wrong, obviously black women’s attitudes should never be limited to those roles only. Joe-Issa Rae Diop, or Issa Rae, could never relate to the mainstream media stereotyping of black women. Therefore, she made her own platform to eradicate those limited roles given by popular cultures.
During her college years, Issa made some funny low-resolution videos about the daily life of students living in the dorm. After she graduated from Stanford University with a major in African-American studies, Issa created a web series on YouTube with the title Awkward Black Girl. The first season, started so simple with only a few casts and simple editing method, is ridiculously funny. Beyond funny. The web series lasted for 2 seasons with millions of viewers, and Issa even partnered up with Pharrell Williams for the second season. Awkward Black Girl, as the title says, is about a socially-awkward black girl named Jay (played by Issa Rae) who hates her banal job, racist boss, exasperating colleagues, and life in general. She copes with stress by rapping her own verses and hanging out with her Indian best friend and white boyfriend. The whole web series really cracks me up. Issa gets me laughing so hard every time she narrates the video with her bored voice and punch lines. I will say this again, Awkward Black Girl will make you laugh your ass off. No wonder she got all of the awards and sponsorship for that. Through Awkward Black Girl, Issa Rae wants to point out that black girls are not always sassy, loud, or confident like what most people paint them in movies and novels — they can feel awkward and shy too in social situations. And that’s okay. Awkward Black Girl is hilarious; I say this because it’s genuinely funny. It’s not funny as in “Is this the joke? What are these people be laughing about? Am I supposed to laugh now?” funny, I swear.
Issa Rae’s newest project is her TV show Insecure, which is on HBO. The show’s general plot is about capturing the lives and struggles of black millennials, as real as possible. Insecure centers on the life of Issa (Issa Rae) and Molly (Yvonne Orji). Mainstream media assumes black women as strong and confident, yet Issa and Molly are insecure as fuck. Issa is insecure about her relationship and job, while Molly — although she’s already had her bomb career — is insecure about her broken pussy. Issa, who knows that she is a professional when it comes down to teaching kids from the hood, still feels insecure when her colleagues talk behind her back. The thing from the show that gets on my nerves is Issa’s boyfriend, Lawrence (Jay Ellis). He’s been getting his shit together for 4 years with zero outcome. He drowns himself in unemployment and refuses low-wage jobs since he owns a college degree. Lawrence sulks around, refuses to be productive, and even forgets Issa’s birthday. When he finally gets a job after 4 years, it’s only from motherfucking Best Buy. No wonder Issa cheats with her high school crush who supports her musical ability, right? Yet most men viewers, who mostly cheat all the fucking time, are so butt-hurt and bewildered with the fact that Issa cheats on he-ain’t-shit Lawrence. It gets on my nerves that Lawrence becomes very productive and caring RIGHT AFTER Issa cheats on him. Anyways….. Insecure‘s soundtrack is amazing, even President Obama said so. This show even got nominated for Golden Globes!!
Issa Rae really is a massive inspiration, such a beautiful person inside and out. From making homemade videos about her dorm life, she is now out there entertaining millions of people with her humor — just a couple weeks ago, she even got invited to the White House! Obviously her shows and experiences are more relatable to black girls, yet I’m just struck in awe! She really did that: making her own platform and breaking all of the limiting black girls stereotypes. I’ve probably said this over and over again, but let me just say this for one last time: Issa Rae is hilarious, beautiful, inspiring, down-to-earth, and amazing. Just look at her smile!