Friday night and most of Saturday morning, I re-watched the first season of HBO's Insecure in order to get my mind (and emotions) ready for the second season that debuts Sunday night. Re-watching it made me think about a lot of things pertaining to black love. Mainly, it made me constantly question, "Why is black love so damn hard?".
I was talking to my boyfriend while watching it. We debated whether Issa Rae's character cheating on Lawrence was understandable. Of course, we didn't really agree. I provided my justification of why I felt that Issa wasn't completely in the wrong. I could understand where she was coming from. She was really exhausted of seeing her man sit on the couch and having unsuccessful job interviews. All of that takes a toll on the relationship, especially for the woman who has the job and is successful. I felt that Issa was simply tired having to "hold her nigga down", and that shit can be beyond stressful for black women ( you know, the ones who've historically spent their livelihood of "holding niggas down" and not receiving anything in return). Thus, I could sympathize with Issa in that respect.
However, unsurprisingly, my boyfriend felt otherwise. He thought that what she did was grimy and the action was so deplorable that it was beyond any type of "talking it out" or makeup sex. Lawrence's constant attempts to please Issa and trying to compensate for his unemployment (the night when he cooked dinner and set the table for her and him erasing the "Broken Pussy" video from the Internet are prime examples) were his justifications for why Issa's action was disgusting. The icing on the cake and the other reason why my boyfriend hates her character was that the dude that she cheated with was not a stranger; it was someone with whom she's had a previous relationship. In his eyes, that made the situation even more fucked up. Thus, when Lawrence finally got a well-paying job and was excited about having their relationship get back on track, it made him agree with Molly's (Issa's best friend on the show) sentiment (which she claimed on the second-to-last episode of the first season) that Issa definitely did not deserve Lawrence.
“In the words of Lauryn Hill, ‘Tell me who I have to be to get some reciprocity?’ is a constant notion running throughout a black woman’s mind when being in a relationship.”
While all of those points are accurate, there was still something inside of me that made me understand what she did and not immediately put her at fault. Throughout the season, I was thinking in my head, "I get it, sis", and I just wanted Lawrence to feel the same way. But I knew that would be pretty hard after she betrayed him.
Obviously, what Issa did was very wrong, but I can't help but give her a little bit of the benefit of the doubt. If the tables were flipped, would I be this defensive about Lawrence? I don't want to be one of those types of "black feminists" who believe that black women are always the victim, but is that what I'm doing by defending Issa's character? Am I really trying to victimize a fictitious character who cheated on a "good black man" mainly because she's a black women? Why must black love be so complicated?
All of those questions pondered through my mind, and I came to the conclusion that black love is a very complex item to comprehend. It's extremely hard to makes sense of. In fact, it's more of a debasing situation because of its flaws than one that should be immensely celebrated. Hell, Black Love 101 should be a required course for black students (who want to have a black partner).
As a black woman, it's hard being in a relationship in which you constantly have to give. In the words of Lauryn Hill, 'Tell me who I have to be to get some reciprocity' is a constant notion running throughout a black woman's mind when being in a relationship. Our biggest fear in terms of relationship is not getting anything in return from our labor of love. And when we aren't feeling that reciprocity, we tend to become insecure in ourselves and in our relationship. That's how Issa felt, in my eyes. She was tired of feeling unsatisfied and not being treated the way she she should have. She was tired of always having to provide. She was tired of watching her man sit on the couch and play video games after she had a long and hard day of work.
That routine just turned her off. Black women want their man to wine and dine them and be treated with the respect that society lacks for them instead of having to be a daily customer at "Build-A-Nigga Workshop". Black women simply don't want to deal with that shit. But instead of communicating that with him, she found what she was lacking and created a temporary moment of satisfaction with Daniel, which was a huge mistake. Furthermore, Issa, and other black women, often fail to realize that it takes black men a bit longer to "have it all together". Jay-Z's 4:44 is a testament to that. Also, placing the burden on black men to compensate for the lost respect from society is momentous pressure that is damn near impossible.
Sometimes black women place this unrealistic pressure on black men to be our superhero without realizing that it's hard to be that for themselves because of the societal oppression that they face. We set them up for failure each time we do that, and we end up broken, hurt, and emotionally traumatized most of the time.
That's what Issa did to Lawrence, except this time they both ended up on the bitter end of the stick because they couldn't see each other's perspectives. The essence of black love too often gets lost in translation due to silent hurt and unrealistic pressures toppled by the weight of societal strains imposed on black people.
Hopefully, the second season explores this issue and somehow Issa and Lawrence find their way back to each other. Regardless, I'm too excited for my favorite show to return!