This hilarious, honest, and bold collection of essays introduced me to Issa Rae, and my gratitude is galaxy-sized. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is a collection of essays on what it’s like to be unabashedly awkward in a world that regards introverts as hapless misfits, and black as cool.
Let’s jump right into discussing my favorite essay, which was one of the first ones (“A/S/L”) where she talked about her early internet days. I mean, it’s been almost weeks since I read it, but I still crack up when it pops up into my head.
Just to give you a little taste of Issa Rae’s gold humor, here’s an excerpt of her talking about an online relationship where Rae was technically catfishing a 19-year-old dude (while she had just turned twelve at the time):
“To him, I was blond-haired, blue-eyed, and petite. Technically, I was petite for an adult person, but definitely oversized for a sixth-grader.”
A/S/L had me in literal tears from laughing so much
And after calming down from that last essay, there were also a really, really relatable piece of writing for food lovers that ended up making my stomach rumble… and I had to get up to fix myself a sandwich.
“If conversation is something I dread, eating is something I look forward to. I wake up excited for breakfast, which is, hands down, my favorite meal of the day. Sometimes, at dinner, I fantasize about what I’m going to eat for breakfast the next morning.”
But all jokes aside, this collection also tackled important issues that need to be discussed more often from race, representation, privilege…
“Girls, New Girl, 2 Broke Girls. What do they all have in common? The universal gender classification, “girl,” is white. In all three of these successful series, a default girl (or two) is implied and she is white. That is the norm and that is what is acceptable. Anything else is niche.”
“I immediately thought of my absolute favorite Junot Díaz quote. He said:
You guys know about vampires? . . . You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, “Yo is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist?” And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.
Isn’t that the realest shit ever?”
“The discussion of representation is one that has been repeated over and over again, and the solution has always been that it’s up to us to support, promote, and create the images that we want to see.”
I could listen to Issa Rae for hours. And thankfully she created a brilliant tv show called Insecure that I absolutely had to start after loving this collection. The show looks at the friendship, experiences and tribulations of two black women. And it seriously lived up to the hype I created in my mind and so much more. (More about my never-ending love for it in my November Wrap Up.)
Overall, this collection was a vibrant and brilliant insight on Issa Rae’s voice. And I hope with all my heart that she’ll never quit writing down her thoughts.