OR IN OTHER WORDS:
” HOW TO GET BLACK GEEKS TO COME OUT OF THE TARDIS”
I COULD NEVER SHUT UP ABOUT MY LOVE OF ALL THINGS NERDY!
I never had much trouble admitting that I was a geek. I loved science and got all into astronomy as a kid. Joined the astronomy club in high school. Brought a part of my comic collection to school. Talked about Sci-fi with my co-workers. Nope! I didn’t really have much trouble talking about my love of the nerd life.
It was always easy to find other geeks to talk to. I could mention something about Star Trek and another geek was usually just a stone’s throw away. But black geeks were much more rare to find. My throwing arm wasn’t that strong. Were they really that hard to find though? Or was it just hard for some (thankfully not all) black people to admit that they were geeks or nerds.
We all know that the term Geek or Nerd had such a strong connotation to it that some people in some cultures stayed far away from it. They were repelled like two magnets with the same north poles pointing to each other. Sometimes those words became fighting words. But every now and then, when I talked about different films or TV shows or comics, these brothers and sisters were right with me. Have you ever brought up the Twilight Zone series among a group of dudes just hangin’ out? “Yo, what about that one with the hot chick and all them ugly dudes calling her the ugly one? That’s my shizznit!”
BLACK GEEKS ARE ALL AROUND US, JUST BEHIND THE CURTAINS
There are a lot of black people that truly like the things that we who are openly geek also love. I was talking to one brother not too long ago who was about my age. He was like “Everybody collected comics when I was a kid so I don’t understand when someone talks about they don’t get into them.” I agreed, noticing that when I talked to a lot of brothers, they indeed read comics as a kid (rarely the sisters though). Of course, as with anybody from any culture, the peer pressure of ‘growing up’ and other distractions can make you forget about your comic collecting. My thing is, you know some of the main characters; so don’t act like you don’t.
I think it’s definitely been changing since geek culture has become mainstream culture. But there are still a lot of black people that just don’t talk openly about what they like in geek culture.
That’s where I want to see black people admit that they are geeks. They don’t actually have to call themselves geeks or nerds, or even afronerds or fanbros. I just want to see brothers and sisters not be reserved about what they get into. And also I want them to understand that just because they identify with those terms or those passions it doesn’t mean that’s the only thing they are. A black person can be any number of things all at once. A geek and a jock. A nerd and a cool chic.
UNDERCOVER GEEKS MIGHT BE MISSING OPPORTUNITIES
One reason that I want to see more black people talk about Sci-fi and fantasy and other genre stuff is that it might give them an opportunity to connect with other peeps that like the same stuff. I’ve already seen it with my own friends that I’ve had to convince were undercover geeks. “Dude, you like comics, The Matrix, loved Twilight Zone when you finally watched it. And you watch Avatar: The Last Airbender on Nick… How are you Not a Geek Negro??” They didn’t want to admit it at first, but then the walls started coming down and they saw the truth in the mirror.
And when those walls start to come down and that guard eases up a little, you can see the excitement come out of a black person when you talk about some of the stuff that they appreciate. Now they know it’s cool to talk about these things and that there are actually other people that won’t look at them crazy.
HEY, WHAT ARE YOU WRITING?
Another reason: the side effect of brothers and sisters admitting they are geeks is that they can feel comfortable talking about their creative ideas. I met a young brother that was a friend of my son. I asked him what he was getting into these days. This kid said he was trying to write a novel. I was like “That’s awesome. What kind? What genre?” He said in a slightly embarrassed and understated way “It’s a romantic comedy story.” I was like “THAT’S AWESOME. I’m writing a Rom-Com script right now!” He totally lit up and got excited. That’s what I want for millions of black creatives across the world to feel like when talking about their creative passions. I dread hearing about the family that tells a young person that writing science fiction or drawing superheroes or messing with software languages is a waste of time. When they grow up, how are they going to talk about that stuff openly? I’ll tell you how, they can talk to us liberated nerds.
A TRIBE CALLED BLERD
My last reason is a selfish one. I just want to see my black geek tribe grow bigger and bigger. I want to see more black people go to science fiction film festivals and conventions, and meet up with others who like what they do. I want to see black people fall in love with each other because they secretly love Battlestar Galactica and they can finally watch anime while snuggling up next to someone. I want to see these brothers and sisters add to the overall conversation about people of color represented in the future when it comes to fictional stories. I just want to see a community filled with black people who are even more comfortable with themselves, have self knowledge, and connect with each other because of it.
ISLANDS OF AFRO-AWKWARDNESS
And even when some black people finally admit that that are geeks, it’s still hard for them to find others like them in the sea of Caucasian geekdom. I hear it all the time – “Wow, I never knew there was a community of black geeks. Thanks Geek Soul Brother and Black Girl Nerds!”
I’m a dreamer of course. But I know that there is strength in numbers, growth in community and love in family. I feel great when I’m talking to black geeks, nerds, fanbros and afronerds. I feel great just hearing them talk to each other. I just want others to feel the same.