Here are some photos of Issa Rae at this weekend’s Black Girls Rock! event. She wore a Leilou by Aleksandra Dojcinovic dress on the red carpet, and I kind of hate this dress on her. The cut is fine, but the color does nothing for her. Issa seems to be everywhere these days, as the second season of her HBO show, Insecure, has gained an even bigger audience now that the show has a lead-in from Game of Thrones (minus Ballers). Issa recently chatted with the Guardian about what she’s doing with the show, how she doesn’t see the show as particularly political, and why she’s trying to show the real-life struggle of what it’s like to date as a black woman. You can read the full piece here, and here are some highlights:
‘Insecure’ is not a Trump-era show: “I don’t want the stench of the current administration on this show. I don’t want people to look back and be like: ‘Oh, this was a Trump show.’ I want them to look back and say Insecure was an Obama show. Because it is: Obama enabled this show…. Culturally, Obama made blackness so present, and so appreciated; people felt seen and heard; it influenced the arts, and it absolutely influenced how I see blackness, how I appreciate it. When a black president is a norm, it enables us to be, too.”
She wants to show normal life: “I just wanted to see my friends and I reflected on television, in the same way that white people are allowed, and which nobody questions. Nobody watches Divorce [a HBO stablemate, starring Sarah Jessica Parker] and asks: ‘What is the political element, what is the racial element driving this?’”
She loved black sitcoms like Moesha, Girlfriends and A Different World. “Then they disappeared,. Somewhere along the way, being white became seen as ‘relatable’, and you started to see people of colour only reflected as stereotypes or specific archetypes. So much of the media now presents blackness as being cool, or able to dance, or fierce and flawless, or just out of control; I’m not any of those things.”
Intersectional insecurities: “These are questions that we constantly have to ask ourselves, as minorities, or double minorities, or triple minorities. In terms of the intersectionality of it all, you are constantly asking yourself: ‘Which part of me is being discriminated against? Which part of me is being targeted? If not all parts of me.’”
Dating in the current era: “Black women are at the bottom of the desire chain, of the dating totem pole; we’re not the trophies. In rap culture, especially, there’s always an idea that once you achieve an amount of success, your trophy is the white girl on your arm.” However, she asserts, that’s not limited to hip-hop. “It’s not scientifically proven, but there’s evidence, in dating apps for example, that we’re the last to be chosen, the least desirable.”
Being compared to Lena Dunham: “I get the inclination to compare us because we’re both young women, but the stories we’re telling couldn’t be more different.”
There’s also a lengthy discussion on WEB Dubois’s concept of “double consciousness,” which is defined as the “psychological challenge of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of a white society.” Issa talks about how she originally conceived the show as just something for herself and her friends, but now that she’s working for HBO, she’s constantly wondering about how the white executives will react, and how a non-black audience will react, etc. I think she’s still coming to terms with the fact that if a show is honest, interesting and well-written, it will suddenly move from “niche audience” to “relatable.”
As for that, I relate to the question “Which part of me is being discriminated against? Which part of me is being targeted? If not all parts of me.” I’ve been feeling that more and more since Trump was elected too.
Photos courtesy of WENN.