Issa Rae’s Insecure is for Colored Girls Still Trying to Find Their Magic

I have a confession: I am insecure. I am also keenly aware that this a truth generally best left unsaid, which is why this confession is of particular salience. I love nothing more than to marvel at the glory that is #blackgirlmagic—a long overdue recognition of the badassery of black women, their accomplishments, and their impact on the world and popular culture at large. But in keeping up with the ongoings of the phenomenal black girl collective, I cannot help but feel, at times, like a squib[1], and I’m going to go out on a limb here, and assume that I am not alone. True to black girl magic form, Issa Rae—writer, producer, director, and everyone’s favorite Awkward Black Girl, seems to have heard the murmured doubts and vexations of black women such as myself, who may be wondering, “Is it just me?!” and astutely answered with, “Nah girl, the struggle is real for all of us”, through her long awaited television series debut, Insecure.

Insecure is to television, what A Seat at the Table is to music in 2016.

It is a desperately needed dose of therapeutic laughter, that’s authentic AF, black AF, both boldly and subversively, smart, nuanced, and really, really funny. Issa and Molly, the show’s main protagonists, exhibit a depth that’s rarely allotted to characters in a comedy series; I can see much of myself in both of these characters, which make them almost uncomfortably relatable. As these two besties flounder their way through their professional and romantic endeavors on-screen, they accurately depict the myriad of experiences common to all of us who happen to be young-ish[2], black, and female, off-screen: Professional stagnation? Check. Being a black face in a white work space? Check! Long term relationship woes? Check. Prolonged singleness, while dating in the age of online apps and trying to navigate the no good, awful dudes who populate them?  Check. Check. And check. I am still hollering about Malbec dude. Hol.Ler.Ring!! Some men just ain’t s***, and that’ not funny. But that dude was hilarious.  And my personal favorite, well intentioned white people that you’re not sure what to do with yet? Check! I have several Friedas in my life…

Insecure gives voice to all of us black women trying to make our way through this world, and most especially for those of us who may not always feel magical.

Part of the absolute genius of the show is that it “speaks” in double entendres,

 but only to its core audience—black women, and makes zero effort to placate any white viewers who may have waded onto this side of the HBO sandbox.  Issa’s interactions at work speak truth to my life in the non-profit space because #partnerorganizationsbelike #thatsliterallythewhitestthingyouveeversaid. While Molly, bless her heart on her sleeve, legit has spoken entire sentences straight out of my head from her mouth.  I spent half of the first episode cackling like an overindulgent Bravo fauxlebrity, and the other half screaming, “You don’t know my life, Issa!” in between swigs of cab-sav, because obviously, Issa does know my life, and clearly, she knows yours too. And it’s exactly that nail on the head portrayal of art imitating so many of our lives, that has drawn me, my best friends, Danni, Sienna, and many other black girls both domestically and abroad, so strongly to this show.

Insecure gives voice to all of us black women trying to make our way through this world, and most especially for those of us who may not always feel magical.

What the show helps me remember is that black girl magic is relative to the individual. We are all fighting the same battles and worrying the same worries. Our very existence, which has endured, and continues to weather storms ever present on our collective shores, is magic. In shining a humorous, yet authentic light on the contemporary experiences of many young black women, Issa Rae has created more space for all black women to be seen beyond our perceived impervious strength, further enabling us to be fully recognized as actual people. And that new space , which allows us to acknowledge our insecurities without being held in contempt for having them, can make all the difference for us colored girls who’ve considered giving up because they don’t feel magical enough.

[1] *if you had to check this footnote, I need you to get your life and read harry potter, immediately.

[2] I have feelings about being called/using the term “millennial”, lots of ’84 babies feel this way. But I’z still young-ish…


Bernadette is true Jersey girl — impatient, unfiltered, and infamously averse to mayonnaise. Her affinity for the finer things in life include high-end leather boots, jamón ibérico, and all things bourbon. She and her miniature poodle Kona, currently reside on the wrong side of the Atlantic in Baltimore, MD. But Madrid is their spirit city, and they plan of finding their way back in the future, this time for keeps. You can find more of her work here: www.sinmayonesporfavor.com