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The Importance Of The Awkward Black Girl Narrative

“Black people are stereotyped as being anything but awkward in mainstream media... Black people are always portrayed to be cool or overly dramatic, anything but awkward” - Issa Rae.

I couldn’t agree more with Issa on this one. Black people seem to always be associated with this notion of ‘coolness’. The typical black female portrayed in mainstream media is usually popular, loud and always on the ball when it comes to the latest fashion trends, urban lingo and hip hop dance crazes. Alongside every teenager's desire to appear to have it all, it was these very depictions of black women that subconsciously made me, an awkward, rather skinny, black girl from East London, do the most in an attempt to be labelled as cool. I would always feel the need to have all the latest clothes and gadgets. I would do literally anything to make sure that my awkwardness wasn’t visible to others and in this attempt, I ended up looking even more awkward and uncomfortable than usual. What a fail! 

But in my defence, it wasn’t really my fault. The very few images I saw of black women in mainstream media made me feel that being black also meant being cool. The Guardian posted an article entitled Why white people aren’t as cool as black people, written by US Scholar Dexter Baxter, who refers to the way in which black people are automatically associated with coolness in white spaces, even if it’s unwarranted. I feel like we can all relate to being in a room of white people and automatically being forced to engage in conversations about the latest cool hip hop dance move or the latest rap album to be released. It seems black people can be cool while doing absolutely nothing, simply because black.