Last week FIU’s Black Student Union hosted an interview and Q&A event staring Issa Rae, YouTube personality and HBO star as their speaker in honor of Black History month. During the event Issa Rae speaks on what it was like to grow up being an awkward black girl in a society where she didn’t necessarily fit into the social norms at the time of what it meant “to be black”, and how these experiences help her shape her creativity. Rae reveals that’s she would like to use her platform to reshape the way that society views people of color in media specifically the view of Black women who are being oppressed on two fronts for being women and being of color. During the Q&A section Rae gives advice to aspiring writers and producers on how to stay true to themselves in their work and know that when they are doing something they are passionate about they have to be prepared to defend it.
Issa Rae began her career as a YouTube personality most notably for her web series Awkward Black Girl. Since her debut of the series in 2011 she has worked on numerous projects as an actress, producer, and writer including works such as The Number, Pharrell Williams: Happy, and Killing Lazarus. Her hard work earned her a Television series on HBO Called Insecure which she is the Executive Producer, Writer, and central protagonist of, as well as a memoir titled The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl. A common theme within all of the Rae’s work is the empowerment of Black women especially within film and television.
During the interviewing process the moderator asked a question for Rae to elaborate on a scene within the first episode of her show Insecure regarding a little girl reciting some offensive comments that the little girl’s dad made about black women to which Rae responded “At that time I felt that people are always underestimating black women and relegating us to the sideline in a way and making us feel like our opinion aren’t valuable or that we get upset for no reason. So we are always told to calm down and keep ourselves in check, to lower standards, it’s just all these stipulations that are placed upon us like we can’t strive to be great and we can’t dream big and want more. That to me was just a frustration that I thought I could put into the writing and in the show in the voice of the little girl…” Issa Rae along with other black female actress such as academy award nominees Violas Davis, Octavia Spencer, Taraji P Henson, and Naomie Harris are crafting a better and more representative image of women of color to which the youth of today can aspire to more so today give the current state of things.
Issa Rae is truly an amazing and inspiring person. It was an honor to have her within the halls of FIU and a special thanks to the Black student Union for their efforts in annually bringing an influential figure to come speak during Black History month.
Article by Talib McMorton
Talib is a senior at FIU, pursuing a degree in Communication Arts.