Issa Rae, for the culture 

Kathleen Posted by Kathleen at June 5, 2018 17:08:22 June 5, 2018 17:08:22

Let me tell you all the ways I love Issa Rae. She's given me a lot of reasons to love her lately. First, let's start with the CFDAs. She hosted the awards, looking flawless per usual, rocking the sh-t out of a Pyer Moss gown. The gown is great but it's the belt that I want to focus on. Issa's belt reads:

Every N---- is a Star 

The belt was Pyer Moss designer Kerby Jean-Raymond's idea. He told PEOPLE that he and Issa worked together on the designs and that the words are based, of course, off the Boris Gardiner song. You'll recognize it from Kendrick's "Wesley's Theory" or the Moonlight soundtrack. I've had it in my head all morning. It’s an exceptional song but Issa isn’t wearing this belt just because the song is dope. Those words are radical. 

The debate over n-word was reignited recently when Kendrick Lamar shut down a white fan from saying the word onstage with him. I hate this debate mainly because I don’t think there is one. White people can’t say the word. End of debate. There are nuanced reasons for why some black people have chosen to reclaim the word, especially in black art, but it feels like every few years we’re forced to defend that decision. Again. And again. You can read smarter people than me expertly explain the nuances of who gets to say the n-word here and here. The gist of it is this: not everything is for everyone. For years and years, black people – especially black Americans—have had to exist in spaces of rejection and oppression with white people telling them that so many things are not for them. This is one word that is for us. Deal with it. 

Issa Rae is the first black woman and woman of colour to host the CFDAs. She’s worn the n-word on her clothing before on Insecure (this Omandi sweater is amazing) but I think she chose to wear this belt on this night to, like she does so often, rep for her culture. She’s saying to all the black people watching, “I see you, I’m here for you and because of you.” She’s reiterating that sentiment that has now become her tagline: 

I’m rooting for everybody black.” 

Isn’t that line essentially saying the exact same thing as “every n---- is a star”? Issa Rae created The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl and then Insecure, shows that have meant so much to me and to the representation of blackness on television. Issa Rae is one of my heroes. They say to never meet you heroes because they will always disappoint you. Last week, I met Issa Rae. She did not disappoint. In fact, one of the first things she said to my friend Camille, who runs ByBlacks.com, was “where all the black people at?” and proved that she’s everything I thought she was going to be and more. 

Long story short, I did not know I was going to get the chance to talk to Issa at the event where we met. I thought I would MAYBE get a selfie and attempt to not pee my pants. Instead, I got thrown into a two minute interview with her to talk about work, mentorship and uplifting black creatives. I didn’t pee my pants. I am so proud. I bring this up to brag about meeting Issa Rae but also because I got to ask her about that line I mentioned above. 

This is what she said about applying the idea of “rooting for everybody black” in the workplace:

“No one is going to consider us like we consider ourselves. If we don’t do it, LITERALLY no one else will.” 

She put the all-caps emphasis on “literally” just like she does as Issa on Insecure. She is not the same person as her character but she’s just as charming and real. Issa Rae considers her culture in everything she does. She uplifts and represents. 

At the CFDAs, she called out Kanye for basically doing the opposite. 

“I’m about as fashionable as Kanye is black — only when it’s convenient… That joke was my choice, just like slavery.”

I love her so much. The Kanye jokes got me even more excited for the upcoming season of Insecure. Issa Rae flew back to LA to continue filming the season right after the event I saw her at. If I had to guess, I’d bet that there’s going to be a few Kanye jokes. I can’t f-cking wait. 

Also, THE MIRROR RAPS ARE BACK. Here’s the new Insecure Season 3 teaser. This is better than the entire ye album. 

Photos:
Theo Wargo/ Kevin Mazur/ Dimitrios Kambouris/ Getty Images

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