I’d like to make a confession before you proceed with reading the rest of what I have to say. This article is not written by a long time die hard fan. Until now, I had not watched a single episode of Issa’s awarding winning HBO series Insecure. I do not say this with pride, in fact to be brutally honest, I feel a little shame that until now I hadn’t checked it out.
For me, television and film are optional, I can take or leave them. If someone was to tell me that I had to choose between music, television, film/movies or books, there would be no consideration needed. Music and books are always what I would choose, both get me through the day, on a daily basis.
I like to call myself pro-black and try to always support the black owned brands around me. So why didn’t I continue this within television and film? I hope that I can say that this wasn’t intentional and that it comes from a damaged part of my heart. I constantly war with the stereotypes of black people in the media versus the depictions of my ancestors.
With the hype of season 4 I finally watched the first episode. Upon reaching the 2:46 marker I was shocked at how many parallels there were to my life. Aged 19 I was hired by my University for ‘Aim Higher’, Labour’s further education initiative scheme. During the interview I was told very frankly that they wanted to hire me because they needed more black ambassadors and felt kids would identify with me. I internally scoffed as I had spent the better part of the year being called coconut and told I sounded ‘white’, but we need money to live and the pay was good so I accepted the position.
My first day saw me stood at the front of the class of a Tottenham secondary school. Much like Issa, the students tore veritable strips off me. I was told ‘Miss you ain’t from around here, what do you know?’, I had a sixth form student rub himself against me and tell me to meet him out back. I was too afraid to put my handbag down as I witnessed students steal teachers supplies simply because they wanted to. I saw a student fling their mobile phone at a teachers head after they were asked to come off it and pay attention to me.
Whilst I had spent much of my youth volunteering and mentoring, there was nothing in my life that could prepare me for working in some of London’s inner city, low budget schools. I had all of the enthusiasm and none of the tools. In writing this article I acknowledge that I need to do better. Shying away from Black movies, films and television isn’t going to help either. I will never know what it is like to have been raised in a capital city such as London, however, watching shows such as Insecure and films like Blue Story that are based on real life experiences is sure to be a help and not a hindrance.
And as I continue to work my way through all 4 seasons of the show I allow myself to reflect inward as I ask Issa Rae, ‘Am I insecure?’