Issa Rae’s claim to fame is her YouTube web series, Awkward Black Girl. The series became such a hit, that she not only wrote and published a novel, titled The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, but also decided to bring her awkwardness to the small screen this year in HBO’s Insecure; arguably the best “dramedy” of 2016.
Aside from appealing mostly to black women, Rae’s raw humor, naked truths, and transparent experiences embody much of black America today. Issa Rae is me. I am Issa Rae.
In recent interviews, Rae has said that black women are typically seen as strong, unbreakable individuals who seemingly have it all together, and possess unparalleled strength. But she knows that she has many weaknesses and does not have it all together, all the time. Rae both exposes and explores the insecurities we all have ranging from love life to professional life.
Here is a list of five insecurities Insecure brings to light:
Relationship insecurities – Issa and Lawrence’s relationship was a little (a lot) rocky this season, for a number of reasons. To avoid ruining the story line for my readers who have not watched, I will just say that communication is key. If you don’t like something, tell your partner. If you do something wrong, be open and honest about it. Communication can make or break a relationship, but in the end, it can prevent drama, confusion, and worst of all, heart-break.
Financial insecurities – One of the factors that contributed to Issa’s resentment toward Lawrence was his lack of stability. Traditionally, the man is seen as the protector and provider. Jobless, Lawrence started to give up on himself, and could not provide for Issa the way in which he or she felt he should. He doesn’t stay down in the dumps about his unemployment, and makes strides to change his predicament, but the strain on his relationship with Issa does become almost irreparable.
Racial insecurities – Issa works for a non-profit, and serves as the token black girl among her co-workers. Molly is a successful attorney for a top law firm and is reminded of her blackness, often. In the workplace, as someone who’s black, you either are or will eventually be expected to handle all things “black”; i.e. diversity initiatives, inner-city work shops, and having a heart-to-heart with the loud and somewhat obnoxious other black co-worker who hasn’t quite “adjusted to the culture.”
Sexuality-based insecurities – Molly loves sex. Issa, along with their other two girlfriends believe that’s all Molly has to attract a man: her goodies. After the sex, what’s next? Her friends’ opinions cause Molly to wonder if she’s wrong for simply enjoying having sexual relations with the men whom she encounters. This scenario draws attention to the societal norm and double standard of men functioning as sexual beings with multiple partners, but women comparatively being expected to keep her body count low, to avoid the label of a hoe. Rae also examines the double standard the exploration of a man’s personal sexuality. If a woman kisses a woman, she can still classify herself as straight, or whatever she’d like to be, but if a man kisses a man, he’s undoubtedly gay. This raises an important question, especially within the African-American community: Can men explore their sexuality without being automatically labeled?
“Individual” insecurities – Sadly, we live in a society where it takes pure courage to be yourself. It’s so easy to mimic what we see others saying, wearing, and doing, especially in this social media generation. Issa’s open mic performance genuinely encouraged me to embrace my individuality, and the weird, quirky characteristics that make me, me. At first, I cringed at the thought of her completely embarrassing herself on that stage. Granted, she did (Hence, the youtube video). But, the audience genuinely enjoyed her performance, and as a result, her confidence in herself increased. Rapping might not be her career, but let’s be honest, Issa’s pretty nice with the rhymes.
We all have insecurities. Insecure’s just the first to admit it.