Saturday, April 18, 2020

Belonging: The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl

By Lakenzie Walls

I remember watching The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl YouTube series for the first time and feeling relieved that somehow I was finally being seen. Besides, being an introvert as a black girl when the world views black as cool isn’t easy.

Aside from the series, Issa Rae’s memoir provides a helpful guide for navigating through spaces as an awkward black girl. How did feeling out of place give Rae a unique vantage point? In an excerpt from Rae’s memoir The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, she reveals the reasons behind creating Awkward Black Girl (ABG):
At the time I came up with the concept of ABG, I was just a clumsy, frustrated, socially inept, recently graduated adult, looking for confirmation that I wasn’t alone. No, I didn't think I was a monster or vampire, Junot; it wasn’t that deep. But at some level, as each new model for social media strives to connect us in new, paradoxically estranged ways, there exists a consistent core, the human desire to feel included.
Figuring out where we fit in can ensure those awkward moments arise, and if we’re anything like Rae, we can channel those moments and turn them into sketch comedy. However, in the book, Rae describes the challenges of growing up as a Senegalese-American in the black community. Along with cultural differences came clashes with classmates about her dancing ability and musical interest.

My favorite part in the book is a chapter where Rae reflects on her hilarious self-taught dance moves to get her through a high school party. I remember reading that chapter as I painfully reflected on my awkward dance attempts at a high school dance. From childhood to adulthood, Rae has used feelings of awkwardness or being out of place to give her an important vantage point and serve as inspiration for her art.

Lakenzie Walls is a graduate student in English at SIUE and a contributing writer for the Cultural Front.

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