The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae
I hadn’t planned to review this book this week, but the Twitter Ignants were out in rare form over a chapter in Issa Rae’s book that gives some satirical dating advice for Black women and Asian men. Clearly, folks just look for the chapters that are the most inflammatory when taken out of context and only read those… or more likely, don’t even read at all because, in reality, the whole book is full of hilarious takes on what it’s like to be an (oftentimes awkward) Black girl navigating America. As one of those girls, I found Issa Rae’s commentary witty and compelling in its relatability to my own life. But since folks seem to think that everything written is to be taken literally, a quick lesson on satire as a genre.
A quick Google search will define satire:
“The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.”
To be clear, the whole book is satirical. Issa paints funny images to point out the ridiculousness of white folks touching your hair without permission or trying to tell you how to pronounce your own name. She also talks in detail about her experience of being raised in both America and Senegal, spending summers back in her parents’ home country and navigating the impact of having a complex cultural identity both there and State-side.
What I especially love about this book is not only how Issa tells the story of her own life, but also how she uses her story to call attention to the larger struggle of growing up as a Black girl in this country. In the chapter “FAT,” she discusses dealing with body weight and self-esteem issues as a teen. In the aforementioned chapter on dating, “ABG Guide: Black Women and Asian Men,” her factually based commentary on how educated Black women are at the bottom of the dating totem pole sarcastically describes how we are “too high maintenance, too high strung, and too independent — [we] don’t need men” (pg. 138). Now obviously, Issa doesn’t mean these things are actually true about educated Black women; she’s one of us. But these are the things that are said about us. As a single, educated Black female, I can attest to how the facts Issa lays out are played out in real life on my very own Tinder account.
If you’re a fan of HBO’s Insecure, you should definitely check out this book for more than just dating advice. Issa didn’t just wake up one day and walk into meetings with HBO; Awkard Black Girl was a Youtube show before it was a book, and it was one of the factors that led to the success we see today. I thought it was really cool to see the hilarious and wild journey of self discovery and growth that brought her to the Issa Rae that we love and cherish today as budding icon.
Have you read this book yet? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!