I'll start by saying that I knew Issa from Day 1. I ran into her on a random YouTube encounter. Specifically, I was watching "Awkward Black Girl”. In the very first episode, I identified with Issa. She was my parasocial – the phenomenon that occurs when people identify themselves with fictional people or pop culture figures. I see this happening with my demographic quite a lot. That is, #Black Women.

In a world where we are on the whole unloved, we are forced to make friends with the relatable characters we find on TV and in literature, and in some cases we even channel them. Yet, it is unlikely that we ever get a whole show just for ourselves.

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Black women in television

Growing up there were maybe one or two Black characters per mainstream show. And they usually were men. I can recall Monique from “Kim Possible”, and #5 from the “Kids Next Door”. They were never the main characters, and hardly ever had their own back story. But they were the only ones who looked like me.

Of course, I need to give “That's So Raven” and “Penny and the Proud Family” their due respect. They were maybe the Blackest children's shows of their time and on Disney no less. But honestly, since my childhood, I haven't seen anything like that again. In a time where we are apparently becoming more and more progressive, Black shows have become less and less frequent.

The last time I turned the channel to Disney I saw a show called "Dog with a Blog". Another TV show about a White family...and a dog...who blogs.

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My fellow young Black girls have my empathy.

The Black girls we don't see

Awkward Black Girl”–fully, “The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl”– was a web series created by and starring Issa Rae. The show chronicled the daily life of a nerdy Black girl, a character we don't often see on screen, who is caught in a less than likeable job and a romance situation just as disappointing to the point that she raps, unironically, about her interesting problems.

#Insecure” is strikingly similar, as I believe it was meant to be. The HBO series follows a character named Issa (played by Issa Rae herself) who viewers would not peg as awkward or nerdy, per se, but the show makes sure she doesn't fit the narrative of the stereotypical Black girl either. Her best friend Molly definitely competes with her for screen time and is a successful and fierce Black woman who is supportive of Issa despite their character differences.

Black women and playing into stereotypes

Molly is more of the independent Black woman stereotype.

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But that's the thing. There will always be people who align themselves with stereotypes, but when it comes to people of color, White shows fail to feature these characters as actual people. Issa writes every character completely, even when she doesn't need to.

My favorite example of this is Tasha. Most audiences would recognize her as the classic “ghetto” girl. Lawrence himself, as we are evinced in the most recent second season, treats her as a side piece. He makes a routine of only showing up on Fridays, and sleeping with her through the weekend, forgetting to ever take her out on a date. It is not until Lawrence's friend point this out to him that he realizes he has wronged her.

In the first season when we meet Tasha, we hardly expected her to be a recurring character. However, Issa makes a habit of giving every character their time. Despite our too-quick judgments of what type of woman Tasha may be, “ghetto” and just a rebound for Lawrence, we see her Insecure hesitation to invite Lawrence to her family BBQ and her stifled pain at learning that he had cheated on her with his ex Issa.

We also see Molly in all kinds of lights. She presents herself as the typical Neo class type “Independent” woman. In reality, her work and love life are much more complicated. Last season, she was made uncomfortable when Jered, the man she was seeing at the time, admitted that he had sexually experimented with another man before. In the Black community especially, any semblance of homosexuality – particularly amongst men – is looked down upon, and bisexuality isn't even recognized as valid for most Black men. Further, as Issa points out, “Why can't black men explore their sexuality without being labeled gay or bi?”

The struggles of Black women

Molly might see Jered’s sexuality as having some reflection on her own. Besides her latent homophobia, she feels insecure in their relationship. Issa urges her to see a therapist by the end of Season 1, something else Black people don't regularly do for a variety of reasons. She's finally explored this option by Season 2, and her therapist Dr. Pine seems to have properly assessed her situation: “I know as Black women it can feel like a lot of things are stacked against us. We feel invisible at work. We feel invisible at work. We feel the pressure to have the perfect relationship.”

The thing is, Molly and other Black women, feel personally slighted when anything goes wrong in their life when in reality there are so many external factors that contribute to our stress. For example, Molly frequently describes her life using the language of “should”. When she finds out that her White, male coworker is making a significant amount more than her despite her hard work, she personally feels that things “should” be different. She has set goals in her life that she expects to achieve, no matter what. It is no wonder women of color are the most ambitious. Black women participate in the labor market more than any other group. Nevertheless, in the corporate field, women of color are the most underrepresented.

Insecure” is a deeply valuable show for being able to explore these issues, and unapologetically too. It could use some more queer #Representation at the moment– although viewers got Issa’s gay brother this season who taught a lesson in code switching. All the same, it is rare that we see a quality show about Black women that is not B-rated and sidelined to exclusively Black television. "Insecure" is the premier TV show for Black women.

Black women in an insecure world

Many have questioned the intentions behind the naming of this show. “Insecure” is a long way from just “awkward.” Some have proposed that it was the only way to market the show, that Black women's pain only exists in a paranoid state to the major public.

The experiences of Black women are only a result of their insecurities. This is its own type of “magical thinking” (S2, E2), what Dr. Pine defines as believing what we want will influence the external world as opposed to accepting things as they are. Instead, the outer-world uses Black magic, gaslighting Black women just enough that they suffer from external factors such as racism and misogyny – misogynoir – but are never allowed to be validated for feeling any type of way about it. Now, this is very valid and worthwhile analysis of the show’s naming.

In addition, an alternative analysis – whether this be true or not – is that the term insecure is used as a means to define the world's reaction and rejection of Black women, the projected fear and un-comfortability of Black women's ability to dominate spaces where we are typically excluded. Black women are not “insecure”. Everybody else is.