For Us by Us—Black Women on TV

from Season 2 of HBO’s ‘Insecure’

TEXT: Shauna Mercy

For 8-10 glorious weeks in the summer, my girlfriends and I gather to watch HBO’s Insecure on Sundays. Finally, 30+ mins of storytelling — for us by us. We find ourselves laughing at Issa’s mirror monologues, cheering when Molly slays at work, and cringing when both girls make a complete mess of their love lives. Thankfully, Insecure is just one of many shows featuring black female talent.

These days black girls can look forward to Blackish, Greenleaf, Queen Sugar and the entire Thursday night Shondaland line up, and it’s about time too! For far too long black girls have grown accustomed to not seeing our faces in characters from our favourite shows. And when we are included, the characters tend to be monolithic in nature — we’re either matriarchal, magical and perfect, or urban (because you can’t possibly be all those things at once).

The constant white washing of our humanity is unbelievably exhausting so it makes sense that we gravitate to and celebrate shows that put the narrative of Black female lives back in our hands. I longed for the day when black women would be regular fixtures on TV, where we play white caped heroines saving men from their scandals one day, and basic AF, flawed, insecure women the next.

Though most days we find ourselves yelling at our faves, it feels good. It feels good to see us dominating TV with layered portrayals of what it means to be black and female. It feels good to see those same black female voices win golden statues for jobs well done. It feels good to have options. But mostly it just feels good to finally see us building our OWN tables rather than asking for a seat at theirs.

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