‘Whether you’re an awkward black girl or an irritated disabled stripper, everyone should have the opportunity to feel represented in some way.’ – Issa Rae
This book is just shy of 300 pages and it took me an ENTIRE month to complete. And no, it’s not because it was boring, it was actually the opposite of that. It’s because my reading speeds have really slowed down and this is mostly due to my constant sense of fatigue every time I get home from work. I was doing well earlier in the year then I let my routine get distracted by Fall TV – damn you Shonda Rhimes and #TGT haha. Also it’s just a lack of prioritizing which I’m working on now – the year can’t end without at least two more book reviews. Feel free to remind me this time in December.
Okay enough digression. Jo-Issa Rae Diop aka Issa Rae is one of my favourite people in hollywood right now and I feel like such a proud friend (we are friends in my head because I’ve been a fan since way back when when she was just doing web series’ for YouTube). This funny, insightful, engaging form of a fantastic memoir is a book Issa wrote after her successful web series – Awkward Black Girl – and it tells such a compelling yet funny story of her life pre-youtube, post-youtube and pre-hollywood and there’s some bits of her now current star status life.
Issa is half-Senegalese and the mix of cultures between her African heritage and life as a black American comes out perfectly in her well articulated ABG guides that you come across in the book – my favourite one being; Connecting with Other Blacks. We learn that Issa lived in Senegal during her very early years and returned to the United States barely before hitting teenage-hood so adjusting to life in the Western world couldn’t have been that hard but for an Awkward black girl… a lot of things could go wrong – please refer to the chapter on her dancing or lack thereof that really had me laughing out loud by myself.
This page turner of a book covers a lot on the various pressures young girls and young women face, and how worse it gets when you are a woman of colour – from fat shaming, hair shaming, dance shaming, all the shaming… to trying to find your purpose, the ups and downs of finding love at 11 years old read – cyberspace chatting on AOL?? I never did that but her experience tells me it was quite a riot in those chatrooms, being in a relationship or not being able to even get one date, establishing your career which is completely different from what your parents thought you’d do… what stayed with me though was the section where she narrates quite a tale about her relationship with her father. Think this struck me because I can really relate to that. I don’t want to give too much away but something happens when you see your parents separate – people say they never pick sides, but some of us know we truly do pick a side. I did and so did Issa, for good reason too. I think she handled her situation much better than I did though – kudos to you.
Issa Rae is a gifted storyteller as most of you know from her Youtube channel, to her now hit TV show, Insecure on HBO and does a stellar job too with her debut book. I would have really completed it in a week’s time had I not been so distracted before and I definitely recommend it to all of you. It’s funny, it’s light, it’s insightful and also inspiring to see how a young girl went from being an Awkward Black Girl to the It girl to watch in these star studded streets – just like she’s rooting for everybody black, I’m rooting for her and everyone with a dream and determination to see it through.