On her birthday, Issa gives a talk as youth liaison to a class of high schoolers, but the kids mock her. She then reports back to work at her non-profit, where she’s the only black employee. She goes to a birthday dinner with her best friend who tells her she’s been dumped. Issa admits she’s thinking of breaking up with her own boyfriend, but doesn’t admit she texting an ex.
Why Issa might be hard to identify with: Her white co-workers ask her what “on fleek” means and she responds, “I don’t know what that means.” Then, in voiceover, she tells us “I know what that shit means, but being aggressively passive is what I do best.” Passive aggressive heroes can get frustrating.
- The kids react to her unique hair and clothes.
- She has a good friend who she laughs with, telling her, “I think your pussy’s broken. No, I read about it, it’s like, pussies breaking everywhere. It’s sad, it’s had enough, if it could talk, it’d make that sad Marge Simpson groan.”
- She’s too white for the black world and too black for the white world: The first question a student says, “Why you talk like a white girl?” When she responds, “You caught me, I’m rocking blackface,” the students and teachers are uncomfortable.
- Second question: “What’s up with your hair? My cousin can put some tracks in it…unless you like it like that?” Other questions: “Are you single?” “Why ain’t you married?” When she says she didn’t want to settle for less, a student calls out to the class, “Her outfit settled for less!”
- She fears that she’s just a token at work. She says in voiceover when she’s back at work: “My boss founded a non-profit to help kids from the hood, but she didn’t hire anybody from the hood.” Her boss says, “I’m torn between the Booker T. method and the Debois method. What would James Baldwin say is most beneficial for people of color?”
- She still hung up on an ex.
- She lacks confidence: “How different would my life be if I actually went after what I wanted?”
- She confuses work and personal life, “I think these kids need permission to explore on their own,” she says, really talking about herself.
- She’s not easy to invest in because she’s pretty hapless.
- She has a creative outlet: “I used to write a journal to vent, but now I just write raps.” Her raps, however, are just okay, as she well knows.
- She does her best with the kids and with her friend.