Recently I have fallen in love with a new content creator, Issa Rae. I discovered her through a friend, and the pilot of her HBO show Insecure had me hooked. I binged through the entire series, and then started moving through the material on her YouTube page. I watched the series Awkward Black Girl, which is what attracted a lot of attention to her writing and film making ability. Overall I was impressed with how relatable the characters were in her shows, and enjoyed everything she posts. I listened to an interview she did with a New York based radio station’s morning show, The Breakfast Club on Power 105.1. In her interview she discussed many parts of her life (if you’re a fan you should check it out). One thing that stuck out to me was her struggle with her identity as a black woman. She spoke about being teased for “not being black enough” by some classmates while she was growing up. I was shocked to hear it, especially since she captured so much of the black experience in her work. She said that because she spoke English correctly, among other things, her black card was called into question. This caused her to overcompensate in some situations in order to feel like she belonged. In my mind, I could never imagine that someone who portrayed the African American experience so well in media would ever have their black card challenged.
Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence within the African American community. I have heard similar stories from people in different areas of the country, including many of my closest friends. If a person did not fit the stereotypes of black people, their cultural identity was debatable. This is something that I have experienced in middle school, high school and in college. It’s a problem not only for the individual, but also for the greater community. It confines groups to the stereotypes developed in society, and causes internal conflict for the individual, who then question their own identity. At first people try to make themselves fit by changing who they are, but that outward search for validation doesn’t help. No matter how much you try, you can’t be enough of anything to please everyone. You shouldn’t try. I can remember that time of trying to be “more black”, and then when I started valuing myself despite what other people thought. I decided it was easier to be happy. I would encourage anyone else who has their identity challenged to do the same.