Apparently, there’s a “controversy” concerning writer and actress Issa Rae. Three years ago, before she got the deal with HBO, when she was known primarily for her webseries “Awkward Black Girl,” Issa Rae wrote a book. I read it. It was funny and insightful. Knowing what we know now about her career, I wish she’d written it a bit later.
And even during an interview with “The Breakfast Club,” Issa Rae said that there were some opinions and beliefs she expressed in the book that she no longer believes. When Charlemagne asked her what she meant by that, she said you’ll have to read the book to find out. So, I guess people finally heeded her advice.
Amidst all the embarrassing stories she shared from her adolescence, all the lessons she learned trying to establish herself as a creative, a certain sect of the internet pulled out one particular passage.
“Educated black women are too high maintenance, high strung and independent—they don’t need men. There is a widening gap between the education of black women and men, which doesn’t leave very many “suitable” suitors. Unfortunately, the higher one’s degree, as a black woman, the lower your chances are of getting married. Add to the con pile the stereotypes of being loud, complicated, and difficult. Black women, your reputation sucks.
Asian men are also overburdened with racial stereotypes that don’t really work in their favor. Why wouldn’t women want to marry and reproduce with men who are classified as intelligent hard workers? Maybe because Asian men are frequently emasculated in the media, or presented as sexes props, for comedic relief. Oh, if only they could absorb the burden of black male stereotypes (gentalia exaggerations included), maybe their demand would increase. Maybe that would make all the difference. Instead, the plight of Asian mend is nearly the same as that of Black women, except for the fact that their women tend to marry white or “other” far more often. In fact, Asian Americans have the highest rate of intermarriage. Asian men, your reputation sucks too.
This is why I propose that black women and Asian men join forces in love, marriage, and procreation. Educated black women, what better intellectual match for you than an Asian man? And I’m not talking about Filipinos; they’re like the blacks of Asians. I’m talking Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, et cetera.”
She concludes the brief chapter, with this:
“Especially YOU, Chinese men—there is an abundance of you, and you’re not all going to get Chinese women…so why not cross over to the black side? Have you all seen how adorable Blasian babies are? Get with the program.”
I’ll give you a couple of guesses about the people who have taken issue with this passage. And just to help set you on the right path, know that it’s not the Asian community. Them taking issue with a Black woman saying Asians should date Black people would be anti-Black and racist. It’s not Black women taking issue with Issa Rae’s comments because hell, not a week goes by when people of various races, including other Black folks, remind us of our undesirable-ness. (See: Kodak Black, French Montana, Ricky Smiley, Psychology Today, the list goes on.)
We know the challenges we’re facing and quiet as it’s kept, while there are some of us who can only see ourselves, dating, marrying and having children with Black men, there are more than a few of us who have been looking around and weighing our options. Issa’s essay was a joke– part painful fact, part outlandish fiction. No one is going to choose to date, marry and reproduce with Asian men just because we’re both at the bottom of the totem pole. Black women know that. Asian men know that and so does Issa Rae. For those who struggle with the fundamentals of comedy, that was the outlandish part.
The people who took issue with Issa’s words were Black men…those of the Hotepian sect. They suggested that a Black man making a similar suggestion would cause all types of uproar. They said she was “bedwenching,” betraying Black men for even suggesting that Black women do what Black men have been doing for centuries, literally risking life and limb to date and marry outside of our race.
I read Issa’s book years ago, and I understood that her comments were tongue in cheek, satire. Still, the notions about Black women and Asian men are due to studies conducted on dating apps that show these two groups are the ones least likely to be approached. The stereotypes are a result of the ones the media has put out into the world.
As for the Black men who are ready to cancel Issa for her comments, I would ask them to consider what type of stereotypes they help perpetuate when it comes to Black women? How many times have we seen a Black man, famous or otherwise, speak about Black women being unattractive? Attitudinal? Uncompromising? Hard?
But even when they don’t part their lips, how many times have we seen Black men, with their actions, illustrate what they think about Black women? Whether it’s a consistent dating “preference,” a comment about “30 showers,” the abuse of Black women or the rationalization of that abuse, Black men are often the ones giving us every reason to look elsewhere for love and affection, when we should be receiving it from them first.
For as much as Black men seem to have a problem with Black women dating outside of our race, that same energy is often missing when it comes to Black men. There’s a whole term for Black women dating “other” men. Bedwench. For Black men, there’s nothing. It’s a preference, it represents progress, access, uplift.
When we do it, we’re selling out the entire race.
The thought that we would cancel Issa Rae, who has gone out of her way to tell Black stories—Black love stories, specifically, is utterly ridiculous.
The people we need to get rid of are the Tariq Nasheeds of the world. Men who likely look at a Black woman’s success and see it as a reflection of their own inadequacies. Men who instead of fighting for the liberation of all Black folk, would rather continue to oppress and strip opportunities from those who they believe they still control, Black women.
We see through the shenanigans and we’re not having it.
“Insecure” is currently in production and will be released later this year. We’ll be watching.