Nobody gives the black girl mob credit for being smart as fuck. They clown but at the end of the day they are really intelligent.
And it’s not subtle at all.
Taystee is a math prodigy in addition to being well-read, Poussey is multilingual, Cindy just knows shit, Suzanne studies Shakespeare, Watson was a good student in addition to being a track star, Vee is basically an evil genius. Piper often learns the most from them; they taught her how to fight and helped translate Pennsatucky’s biblical threat.
The show flat out acknowledges the (academic) intelligence of the black inmates time and time again, but the audience collectively ignores it.
One of the first things they ask you in the ER is to rate your pain on a scale from 1 to 10. I’ve been asked this question hundreds of times and I remember once, when I couldn’t catch my breath and I felt like my chest was on fire, the nurse asked me to rate the pain. Though I couldn’t speak, I held up 9 fingers. Later, when I started feeling better, the nurse came in and she called me a fighter. “You know how I know?” she said, “You called a 10 a 9.” But that wasn’t the truth.
I didn’t call it a 9 because I was brave. The reason I called it a 9 was because I was saving my 10…and this was it.