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Why Is No One Talking About How Insecure Takes on Colorism?


Confession: I slept on Insecure. As a person who doesn’t do You Tube much, I have never seen an episode of Awkward Black Girl. I knew Issa Rae’s name only because I’d read about her raising money for Alton Sterling’s children. So when the show was announced, I wasn’t too enthused. I saw a few previews and still wasn’t interested.

For seven weeks, my timeline from Sunday night to Tuesday morning was filled with statuses prefaced with “Spoiler alert,” as my friends recapped, discussed and debated each episode. Then came the finale. That week, my friends were either #TeamLawrence and #TeamIssa, and I was  still #TeamClulessAboutAllThisShit. Think piece after think piece  floated around about the show everyone but me was watching.

Finally, after my girlfriend basically threatened to cut ties with me if I didn’t “watch the damned show,” I spent a few hours binge watching all eight episodes last weekend. Within the first seven minutes of the first episode, I had to pause to call my friend and tell her how I’d laughed out loud more times than I could count in those first few minutes. I then spent the next three hours and 23 minutes rotating between incapacitating laughter, lustful astonishment, and reveling in the relatability of the characters before deciding that I was #TeamLawrence.

When the credits for the last episode rolled, I was an emotional wrecked. I wasn’t sad just because of the way Issa and Lawrence’s relationship played out though. Nor was I bummed because the show was finished for a while. I was bothered by the fact that with all the critical analysis of the show, no one was talking about the most important aspect of Insecure: the unapologetic centering of dark-skinned women.

From the beginning, Insecure effortlessly avoids falling into the stereotypical portrayal of its main characters. The tired jokes about dark-skinned Black women that have marked just about every Black show since television became all the rage just don’t happen on this show. And while Issa and Molly curse like drunken sailors in a bar fight, their potty mouths and sassiness are not delivered with the neck-rolling, “Yes, honey child,” angry, one-dimensional caricatures that Black shows too often deliver when driven by dark-skinned Black women.

Instead, every “bitch” or “motherfucker” occurs naturally, and their anger is validated and justified. Issa and Molly are given the space to be multi-dimensional Black girls. Their complexions are not used to prop up long-held stereotypes. They love, laugh, turn-up and cry. But although the fact that these two dark Black girls are allowed to display the full-range of emotions is refreshing and necessary, Issa’s character consistent positioning as desirable is the most important facet of the show.

Issa, in all her awkward glory, is wanted by not just one but two fine ass Black men. Yes, she is wanted, not just settled for or tolerated. She is worthy.

That worthiness is neither conditioned on whether she’s glammed up or predicated on a big booty and tiny waist. She is worthy standing in the kitchen in an old t-shirt with a scarf tied around head without the over-pronounced curves usually required to make dark-skinned girls desirable. Yes, a slim chocolate girl in her panties without a booty that could double as a night stand is the object of lust, love and affection.

Can we talk about how important seeing two dark ass Black people having passionate sex is? Where are the think pieces about Daniel passionately kissing Issa while giving her the good wood and staring into her eyes and how major it is to see a dark-skinned Black man eager to please a dark-skinned Black woman? I need to know someone else picked up on how Daniel being hurt by Issa treating him “like some random ass nigga” was because he had genuine feelings for this woman. He desired her.

Then can we move on to critically analyzing how Lawrence loved and desired Issa? Can we talk about a dark-skinned Black girl receiving oral sex from a man who wants not just to fuck her but to please her is so fucking major? Let’s discuss dark-skinned, quirky, funny, insecure Issa being desired, wanted and pursued.

So sure, we can and should be recapping each episode. I don’t mind sipping tea about why Issa was dead ass wrong for cheating or how Lawrence wasn’t quite what we all thought. Hell, I’m even down to dissect the dynamics of Molly and Issa’s complex, co-dependent, Black ass friendship. But I just need y’all to understand that what’s even more noteworthy than the real ass dialogue, the Black ass cast and the dope ass soundtrack is dark-skinned Black women being celebrated, prioritized and wanted.

Let’s sip on that first.


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Kinfolk Kollective avatar About the author: LaSha is a writer who’s obsessed with Black people. Find her work here of course, but also on Ebony, The Guardian, Essence, Salon, Everyday Feminism, Teen Vogue, HuffPo and For Harriett. She’s loves trap music & 90s R&B, watches Jeopardy faithfully and believes fried chicken is her soulmate. The clapback queen is loud and clear about loving her kids above all else and kinda digs her Yankee husband too. Anti-Blackness gives her hives. Get at her @lashawrites on Twitter.

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