In a piece for xoJane reflecting on the hateful response to her Shorty Award win, Awkward Black Girl creator Issa Rae says it reminds her why she wanted to create the Web series in the first place.
It was bad enough that fans had traveled all this way and lost, but to lose to a “black show” that they had “never even heard of?!” The NERVE! The Shorty Awards “are bullshit,” they cried. Completely unfair.
I can only imagine their confused anger at the fact that their “envelope-pushing,” irreverently racist comedy shows lost to something called, “Awkward Black Girl” — it not only makes me laugh, but it reminds me of why I wanted to create ABG in the first place.
I was a huge fan of shows in the 90s, specifically because there were SO many shows of color on the air at the time. Fresh Prince, Living Single, New York Undercover, Martin, Moesha, the list went on and on, and on every channel! Maybe it was Y2K's fault, but since the 90s, black shows in particular haven't been given the chance to evolve on television.
I found myself relating more to the humor in shows like The Office, 30 Rock and Arrested Development, but the relatable characters of color in these shows were far and few. With Awkward Black Girl, I set out to change that. I wanted to create a character who was racially specific, but who goes through universally uncomfortable social situations, so you're forced to relate to her, no matter what color you are.
But, as was demonstrated by some of the Shorty Award tweets, some people can't get past the “black” in the title. The bewilderment that our show not only exists, but that it could actually be good is indicative of how mainstream media thinks. I'm pretty sure none of the people tweeting that I'd only get three-fifths of my award had even seen an episode of our show, but they were 100 percent positive that it couldn't be as good as whatever it is someone who didn't look like me produced.
This mindset is exactly why creative shows of color don't get to exist on television anymore. There's an overbearing sense of entitlement that refuses to allow shows of color to thrive. How dare we even try?
Read Issa Rae's entire piece at xoJane.