I’m sitting at Peet’s Coffee Shop and I immediately feel compelled to tell the world about this book. It’s been out for a couple of months and I bought it at Alexander Book and Company to support this author because she’s a woman and also a woman of color. But that’s not what this post is going to be about. Why I feel compelled to write about Issa Rae’s debut book, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is about what she’s done without her knowledge.
After getting all of my chuckles and giggles to a minimum without disturbing nearby patrons, I closed the book and caught my breath. A barista, a woman of color, approached me, and asked me what I thought of the book, since she saw me enjoying myself.
“It’s really funny,” I said, remnants of the laughter at the corners of mouth.
“I wanted to get it,” she said, “I saw you laughing over here.”
“I finished it,” I said. “You can have it.” I handed the almost brand new hardcover copy of her book. I take Really good care of books.
Taken aback by my generosity, she took the book and said, “Really? Thank you,” and went back to her post. As I aforeformentioned, I had to get my opinion out about this book so I logged onto my Goodreads app to compose a book review.
Before I started my review, the barista handed me two cards for complimentary drinks at Peet’s coffee.
“Aww,” I said, touched. “You didn’t have to do that. You are very welcome! Enjoy the book!”
And this is why this book it’s important to share and discuss.
I can’t recall the last time I read a book by a woman that I could truly relate to on all levels. Similar background, similar interests, similarly awkward, and similar upbringing (instead of speaking another two languages, I only have one). Her voice resonated so much with me because my bestie and I talk like that all the time. We’ve had those experiences and situations. She came across as Extremely authentic. Also, as a fan for her web series, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, I wanted to support her further, because there was something there I hadn’t seen before in the media.
Let me get to the point. Reading this book and watching this web series is the first time I’ve Ever felt closely represented in media. This is what it looks like for women, and women of color, that don’t fit into the stereotypes seen on reality TV (I don’t know what they look like but I know they ain’t pretty) and movies. We can be nerdy, awkward, intelligent, ambitious, beautiful, and quirky without being klutzy, militant, loud, obnoxious, “angry,” or stuck-up. This is what it looks like! And for the barista to have been interested in reading Issa Rae’s book (not sure if she’d watch the web series, I didn’t get a chance to ask), I was more than happy to pass on that book to her.
For me, it meant, yes! She feels represented in the media! Yes! She could quite possibly realize, “Oh snap, this girl is just like me.” Where still, the fact that media, doesn’t necessarily acknowledge women of color on their own terms. I don’t condone separatism but I do support representation.
I enjoy shows like The Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt, 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, New Girl, The Gilmore Girls, The Carrie Diaries but what was missing in each show, a female person of color (other than Gilmore Girls; I loved Lane but she got the short end of the stick. Bland ass storyline. *spoiler alert!* Twins with that idiot? She deserved better.) representative of the times. Goddamn it! We are everywhere. But if aliens based our society on media alone, they’d wonder who those non-white people are and why there aren’t enough especially if we are Everywhere.
Anyway, I digress. I want young girls of color to see themselves in media and that’s why I felt so privileged to share my book with this barista. I don’t know her future dreams but at least reading about Issa Rae’s life will provide her with a sense of recognition that I rarely felt when growing up.
Thank you, Issa Rae and the future awkward women contributing to the world today!