I am an awkward black girl as well. And on top of that, a black feminist nerd. But recently, I feel like there are others out there like me or similar to me.
Issa Rae is one of them. While reading an article from The Root about Issa Rae’s experiences in Hollywood wanting to “lighten” the main character (which Issa Rae plays) (http://www.theroot.com/blogs/the_grapevine/2015/08/issa_rae_described_how_hollywood_wanted_to_lighten_awkward_black_girl_and.html), I discovered Rae’s The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl series, and let me say…
I watched Seasons 2 and 1 yesterday and today. Umm…well, in that order.
I told you that I was an awkward black girl. A part of being an awkward black girl is not sometimes reading closely what you are reading or what you are watching.
I thought that since I saw season 2 that season 1 would be disappointing, but oh no, both seasons are equally amazing.
The premise: The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is about J who works at Gutbusters. Gutbusters is a business where tele-operators sale diet pills that promote bulimia. J despises her job, her work environment and co-workers. What few enjoyables at her job is CeCe who works in Human Resources and becomes her best friend and a new crush, Fred, that she has a hard time getting up the courage to ask on a date.
As for J’s personal life, she was in a long term college relationship where her boyfriend cheated on her…and currently, she had a drunken one night stand with one of her co-workers, A, who is extremely awkward and creepy. Oh, I did not get to express…annoying as her. Trust me, I would want to date Steve Urkiel and not this dude.
What Rae gets so right about The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is how people interact with one another and how we should not put nerds in a box or stereotype them.
From many, nerds have always been white young males with glasses who geek out about computers and/or comics. Or nerds are creeps and losers that no one wants to be friends with.
However, that is not true about nerds. Nerds are all types of people. Nerds are people who you think aren’t nerds (like me). While viewing Awkward Black Girl, I identified with J a lot. She is someone who, on the outside, looks normal but once other characters who are similar to her relate to her, I realized that she is a nerd. Through viewing, she makes me feel like I am not alone…and that is comforting when watching Awkward Black Girl. That black female nerds do exist. We are here, and we should be seen…
Although J is passive aggressive, a bit needy, and indecisive sometimes, she is actually a positive character. Viewers see her insecurities, but the way that Rae and Co. have portrayed J, those insecurities are acceptable for I see that everything isn’t about J—and J starts seeing that as well. That she needs to grow and learn from her experiences and mistakes. This makes her human, but it doesn’t exploit or compromise that she is a normal person—normal as meaning being herself and putting in effort to become a better self.
Also, Awkward Black Girl shows positive and negative relationships. We see J engage in four type of intimate relationships. The first type as being a dependent girlfriend on her ex-boyfriend D. She tells CeCe that she knew that D was cheating on her, but she kept being in denial because she wanted to be with him more than wanting to actually being alone. The next type of relationship we see is J thinking that A, through her drunkenness, is a fine hookup. Of course, that was a superficial encounter influenced by being drunk. The other type of relationship is J’s crush on Fred. Instead of J expressing that she likes Fred, she remains silent by misinterpreting his signals…or correctly interpreting his signals but not doing anything about it. This is where White J comes in. White J is the fourth relationship encounter we see J engaged in. J meets White J while at Fred’s birthday party. Immediately, like CeCe, J finds that White J is awkward as well. She feels the same connection that she does with CeCe without knowing it yet. White J is instantly attracted to J and can’t stop thinking about her. He asks her out on a date.
Although his failed attempts at making the date wonderful (He takes J to a soul food place because she is black…and he takes to her a spoken word event which turns out hellish), he and J both agreed they both made choices based off trying to be someone that they weren’t.
Later on season 1, J dates White J and Fred. She feels more comfortable with White J because she can be more honest herself. She and White J complement each other because they have the same interest but challenge each other. With Fred, she feels more comfortable with him as being friends…the expectation of being someone else, she realizes, is not easy which means it is not easy being with Fred than it is with White J.
What Awkward Black Girl also shows is that as adults we continue to deal with adult bullies like Nina who are aggressive. We also deal with hypocrites like Sister Mary who preaches God and Jesus, but turns right around and visits the sex shop , and she still has sex.
Overall, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl gets right is that we need to surround ourselves with people who support us. We need to be around people who help us to continue to see that we can be better version of ourselves. It breaks down stereotypes about black folks. There are ALL kinds of BLACK people as there are all kinds of PEOPLE. Don’t judge someone because you heard all these century rumors about them. Judge them by getting to know them.