Will There Ever Be A Black Daria?

32 comments
December 18, 2012 ‐ By Charing Ball
Source: Tyrawm.tumblr.com

Source: Tyrawm.tumblr.com

There is a picture floating around the internet of Daria, the fictional character from the MTV 1990s cartoon show of the same name, cropped onto the body of Lil K’s infamous Hard Core album art photo.  You know, the one where she squats, legs spread eagle?

I got a big kick out the reaction the picture has spawned from some people in my networking, who were left scratching their virtual heads about why so many of us “liked” this homage to two fem-positive symbols of the 90s. Lil’ Kim’s Hard Core itself stands alone in hip hop history for its brash and unapologetic delivery of black female sexuality.  As for Daria Morgendorffer, it was her sarcastic and deadpan realism, which made her stand out the most in a world that literally drew female characters as one-dimensional boy obsessed trend bots – even if they weren’t cartoon characters.

Although I was already out of high school and through my second year of college when the television show first premiered, “Daria” became a television redeemer for me. Still much in my awkward phase (which I would come to learn wasn’t really a phase and just part of my personality), not many people understood or even appreciated my dry witted and sometimes ironic sense of humor.  However there was commoradie in the girl with the round glasses and chunky black boots. She was smart, cynical and wasn’t the most fashion forward of women. She was the contrast to her homogenous community including her career driven mother and her bubbly, cheerleading younger sister Quinn. Her best friend was Jane, another outcast who was a bit on the Goth side but also was sort of a hippy too. Together, the two would stand around, usually outside of some space where the more popular kids were, and basically throw shade at everybody and everything in their upper middle class enclave.

Although I wasn’t exactly like the character, for me, Daria represented that kind of misanthropy, which can only come from always feeling like an actual outsider. It’s not easy being the square pegged girl in a sea of sameness, especially not for a black girl. I always found myself on the outs – sometimes it was through forced banishment and other times by choice. I hear traces of Daria in black women entertainers like Janelle Monae and Santigold. I see her visually in the forms of Issa Rae’s “J” and Aasha Davis’s Racey. And her voice is definitely ever presented throughout the black blogosphere, but there has yet to be a definite real life (or live action) Black Daria Morgendorffer to hit the scene. Okay, sure she is a cartoon but how come all of the real life representation of disaffected young woman only come in the form of Janeane Garofalo or Amy from the television show “Parks & Recreation”? The only non-white equivalent I can think of is Margaret Cho. But perhaps I’m missing someone?

One of the best things I loved about Daria was willingness to buck all sorts of social conventions, trends, and hierarchies, to walk in her own space in the world. When her sister was gaining popularity through cheerleading, Daria was at the school’s lunch table, reading books.  That doesn’t mean she was a loser. The much popular kids, including her sister, while obnoxious, weren’t abusive to her. Strangely enough, most of the characters on the show actually seem to like and respect her. No, Daria is outsider but only by choice.

In addition to the Michelle Obamas, the Oprah Winfreys and Gabrielle Douglas’, the women we regard most for their positive attitudes, I think that young black girls need that sort of woman with unflinching cynicism about the world as a role model too.  Someone, who won’t just go along with the façade of fairness or justice or even popularity just because it is the path of least resistance.  Like in this clip of the show I found on online, in which a school counselor badgers Daria to share with the group her goals in life. Daria shrugs and says, “I don’t have any.” The counselor, probably taking Daria’s indifference personally, asks her again, to which Daria replies rather matter of factly, “My goal in life is to not wake up at forty with the bitter realization that I wasted my life in a job I hate because I was forced to decide on a career in my teens.”  Burn!

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  • Jada

    Actually, I’m black, and part Asian. I can relate to daria 100%. I’m an outcast, but I still have friends that are like me. But I still relate to daria because those who aren’t her friends are usually disliked towards her. My sister is also popular, more towards guys because she’s more feminine. I however speak my opinion whether or not people like it or not.

  • scandalous7

    I am the black Daria, here I am!

  • lola289

    Where did you get this pic?!!!!!

  • Bella

    I could care less whether Daria is a cartoon character – she is one of the few figures I’ve come across who amazes and inspires me in equal measures. Black Darias exist, shoot I know I have Daria tendencies. Funnily enough, I honestly think if Daria wanted to, she could be the most popular person in the whole school because her intelligence and wit surpasses all the people who put so much emphasis on the least important things. Obviously, she would never do that because no matter how smart and funny she is, it would go against her own character. Plus, it’s never any fun being part of the popular crowd when you’re making fun of them. Issa Rae is enough for me.

  • Yep

    This was my show!

  • NSimonefan

    I just found out about Daria this year. They show the episodes on Saturday mornings on MTV. I have to say that if there is a cartoon character that is like me, it would be Daria, the Black version, LOL.

  • IllyPhilly

    Where’s the picture?

    • L-Boogie

      At your momma’s house. LOL! Or should I say…Grandmother’s house.

  • The Black Daria

    Uh – you have found the black Daria – me. Outcast in school? Check. Quirky/geeky/nerdy? Check. Not the most fashion forward? Check. Unpopular? Check. Had to come behind a popular, well-known sister? Check, Check, Check. Would rather read than go to the prom or hang out with the popular kids? Check. Super intelligent and cynical to a fault? Check! Oh, and not much has really changed since I became an adult. La-la-la-la-la………… :)

    • L-Boogie

      You sound very bitter. I was Daria like in high school. However, it was just that high school.

      • L-Boogie

        But I went to prom. LOL!

    • L-Boogie

      Again, my comments keep disappearing. You sound bitter. I was like Daria…but highschool is just highschool. But I went to prom…Hillcrest Prom but prom nevertheless…LOL!

      • The Black Daria

        How do I “sound” bitter? :Just describing what my high school life was like and how it relates to the character. Not sure where you picked up on that….More like jaded, but not bitter.

    • scandalous7

      story of my life girl, popular sister and all, story of my life

  • Talk Nerdy To Me

    LOVED THAT SHOW! Still looking for the dvd if they exist. My cousin said I was the black Daria…la la la la la

    • L-Boogie

      I really like your name.

    • Johnnie Q. X. Sturnet

      actually it is on DVD. the entire series. released like last year, maybe the year before. got mine from Target. unfortunately they didn’t have the license to keep the songs of that time intact, so all the background music is generic. doesn’t stop me from reliving the days watching Daria on MTV haha.

  • Ms. Kameria

    I wish there was. That would be so dope

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.f.vorhees Jason Fangz Vorhees

    Want to find young black ladies like this? Stand in line at the next harry potter/lord of the rings series movie premier and you’ll be able to pick em out left and right. My 14 year old cousin is spot on black version of daria and it even leaves me in awe. The sarcasm at times can cut like a hot chainsaw through butter and she is quite unapologetic.

  • She Speaks

    I absolutely loved that show as well. The Awkward Black Girl series reminds me of Daria at times.

  • kierah

    Dang I miss the antics of Daria, Jane, and Quinn. I’ve caught it on Logo a couple of times, but it needs to be on Netflix or something.

    • ANirvana

      its on Hulu

  • Deiondra Lee

    I loved watching “Daria”! It was one of my favorite shows. I remember watching it during my middle school/early high school years. I liked the fact that she didn’t try to do what was popular, she did her own thing and she was smart. I can relate…I was/am the same way and it definitely kept me away from a lot of peer pressure. I wish this show would come back (or something similar to it)!

  • http://twitter.com/ButtaphlyTweet Adrienne Phillips

    I loved Daria! If I could find old episodes somewhere I would get them all. I really did feel like I could relate to her.

  • KayBee

    Hey Monie was kinda like it…even though it was only on for like a month.

  • Say What?

    I was just watching Daria on Hulu! They have all the seasons! Also Daria was unique to our generation. That’s not to say that they can’t do an updated version, but I have a feeling that if it was centered on a black female and the ratchetness involved in some of the black community it may come off as offensive if not done properly.

  • Pivyque

    I loved Daria and I loved the fact that Jody (the black female character) was very smart and driven. I could relate to both of them. I had Daria’s sense of humor mixed with Jody’s ambition. Her parent’s put a lot of pressure on her to excel in school and I could definitely relate to that!

  • Miss_Understood

    I think there is not a “Black Daria” is because (it seems) that there aren’t as many Black girls that could relate to a character like this…

  • Mrs. Urban

    I loved this show.

  • Jenko

    Quinn was in the fashion club, not a cheerleader. And thats my nerd moment for the day.

    • Miss_Understood

      Yep that was Brittany Taylor

    • pretty1908

      Exactly ! I loved daria…. I related to her so well. I used to read a lot and I always corrected my classmates when they used words incorrectly or made references that wasn’t factual. It was hard being person who actually like school and learning while my classmates only like sex and partying. daria helped me through my awkwardness.

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