Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Hampton U chapter.

Frequently when people are recognized for being major contributors to black history they are usually “the first black [insert here]”, they created useful inventions that we still use today, or they fought for the rights of blacks even though this generally put their lives in danger. 

Although these are all contributions that were necessary for the black community to be where it is today, these are not the only ways to contribute to the progression of this diverse community of dynamic individuals. 

Issa Rae has proven this by simply being her authentic self and by attempting to create visuals that trump the notion that all individuals of African descent have one experience.

The American actress, producer, and writer first made her mark when she began her YouTube series Awkward Black Girl in 2011 (Obaro). While Rae was simply attempting to share her experiences and to produce the content she wanted to see, she did not realize she was single-handedly acknowledging a group of individuals whose existence has often been overlooked. 

“Black and awkward is the worst because black people are stereotyped as being anything but awkward in the mainstream media… Black people are always portrayed to be cool, overly dramatic anything but awkward,” Rae wrote in her book, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. 


Rae landed a deal with HBO, and the first episode of her series Insecure debuted in October 2016 (Sims). With its curated playlist, beautifully melaninated cast, and relatability, Insecure set itself apart from every other show centered around the experiences of a black woman. 

Instead of making another show that highlighted the “traumatic, crime-ridden” life of African Americans, Rae decided to normalize the idea that not every black person lives a traumatic life filled with absent fathers and  drugs. 

Rae continues to make content with her production company, Issa Rae Productions, and she continues to grace the big screen with her bright smile and her overtly awkward personality. Over the past two years, Rae has appeared in The Hate U Give (2018), Little (2019), and she is starring in both The Photograph and Lovebirds, which are both set to release this year (Issa Rae).

Issa Rae’s fearlessness to be herself and share her experience as an “awkward black girl” has given both black women and men the space to be themselves. Rae’s existence serves as a reminder to be unapologetically yourself in a world that often expects blacks to apologize for simply existing. 

Individuals like Issa Rae remind society that there are many shades and experiences within the African Diaspora, and each and everyone should be celebrated and acknowledged no matter how awkward or deviate from what society has associated with blackness they may be.

Jamaija Rhoades

Hampton U '21

Jamaija Rhoades is a transfer student pursuing the journalism major. She aspires to be a film journalist. Jamaija would also like to open up her own movie theater that holds enrichment programs for individuals of African descent. She enjoys watching movies and writing about the themes that inspire her within these movies.
Jordyn Edwards is a graduating senior at the illustrious Hampton University studying strategic communications with an emphasis in liberal studies. Jordyn creates for others while being deeply motivated for her passion of storytelling and helping women find their voices.