So in recent weeks I’d heard a lot of buzz about this miniseries called “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl“. Occasionally some of the blogs I read would post about it, and I would wonder whether this few minutes of my time was worth craning my neck awkwardly at work so that my headphones could reach the computer tower which is far as fuck from the monitor for no identifiable reason. The answer was always, “Eh, I’ll go back to it when I get home.” But then I would get caught up in other unread posts and other unwritten posts and Scrabble on Facebook and talking to my mom and forget all about Awkward Black Girl.
I decided to remedy that this morning. BEST DECISION OF MY WEEK. This shit is FANTASTIC. The episodes keep getting longer and her life keeps getting more and more awkward and I LOVE IT. I don’t always agree with her (for instance I love spoken word…but not that wack shit they were forced to sit through) and have no qualms about actually eating on a date, but I see a lot of myself in her.
And I know from all the blogs that I’ve been reading that the creator of the show is having some funding issues, so I’m thinking about donating ten bucks or so. Every little bit helps, right? On the funding page she has a little description about why she created ABG, which starts off like this:
“Why ABG exists:
Television today has a very limited scope and range in its depictions of people of color. As a black woman, I don’t identify with and relate to most of the non-black characters I see on TV, much less characters of my own race. When I flip through the channels, it’s disheartening. I don’t see myself or women like me being represented. I’m not a smooth, sexy, long-haired vixen; I’m not a large, sassy black woman; an angry Post Office employee. I’m an awkward black girl.
And I’m not alone.”
I had two very clear and very interesting reactions to this little introductory snippet to the reason for the show. Reaction number one: I, Maya Reid, of sound mind and body, must confess to you all right now that I have NO PROBLEM identifying with and relating to non-black characters I see on TV. Characters of my own race can be a little more touchy, because I don’t see very many black characters–I see “real” black people on reality shows I refuse to watch, but as far as characters…as a kid, Sister Sister was my SHIT, I wanted to be the girl the Famous Jett Jackson liked, and it is still my dream to one day be as bougie as the Huxtables (without any of Bill Cosby’s egregious classism in real life). As an adult, I was ALL OVER Girlfriends (like a black Sex in the City, for those who don’t know) and still watch reruns regularly, and I can see bits of myself in The Game’s Melanie and Nurse Hawthorne and her daughter. I liked the ambition and double-life led by the main characters in last fall’s quickly-canceled Undercovers. Huh, that actually seems like a decent number of black characters I can relate to/identify with. But that wasn’t my point here.
My point was that I see just as many bits of myself in some White women on television (Bones, Annie from Community) and even in men (House, Reid on Criminal Minds ). Until I came to Princeton, I spent my whole life relating more to White people than to other Black people, and I was okay with that. But the second biggest gift Princeton has given me (the first being a free $200,000 education) is the knowledge of and camaraderie with Black people who are LIKE ME. Because honestly, I’m pretty sure I didn’t think that was possible growing up. I had stopped looking for it.
But they’re out there. I’ve found them at Princeton, and I’ve found them hailing from all over the country at Yale’s Black Solidarity Conference, and I have to say, it is comforting, I suppose. Reaction number two: Based solely upon the legions of women responding to the series, and the fact that it was all over my blogosphere and even my friend C was talking about how much she loves it, THERE’S AN ARMY OF US. And that…seems like it would feel validating if I was still looking for validation. And it is refreshing to have another character to add to the people-who-look-and-think-like-me category. I think my favorite thing about this webseries, though, is the fact that race is often confronted openly in a way that doesn’t ever happen on television. And THAT is something I can identify with.