A few months ago, I shared a meme that called out anti-Blackness in Black nerd culture. It started one of the most intense discussions I’ve ever had on my Facebook page and went on for days. I lost hundreds of followers over it and a few of my followers later told me that the threat had made them literally cry, as the Black nerds explained how they were bullied for not being Black enough and the rest of us explained why being bullied by Black people as a child was not an excuse for anti-Blackness decades later.
The inevitable “I was bullied for being smart,” or, “They hated me because I talked proper” (Never mind that you don’t “talk proper,” you “speak properly.”) stories flooded the discussion. A few Black male nerds entered to tell how they only date non-Black women now because they were never “cool enough” for the Black girls who were into “thugs” and “bad boys.” Many of the blerds recounted how they weren’t just teased relentlessly for being into all the shit they tell us Black people don’t like but were actually physically attacked.
To be clear, I will never discredit how painful it must be to live your childhood as the constant target of bullying. Nor will I ever condone Black people being restricted to the stereotypical Blackness that’s palatable to white supremacist one-dimensional expectations of us. Black people into anime, Star Wars, gaming and cosplay are no less Black or less susceptible to the racist system than the rest of us. Still, even recognizing that the larger Black community is not always a safe space for nerds, the rampant anti-Blackness in Black nerd spaces cannot go unchecked.
Black nerds mocking AAVE as a way to both delegitimize Black dialect and bargain for the proximate whiteness they believe will buy them acceptance in white spaces is fucking anti-Blackness. Besides the fact that being a nerd and speaking a dialect created by and for Black people are not mutually exclusive, we can stop pretending that a lot of these nerds who grew up around Black people who speak AAVE didn’t mimic the speech patterns of the white nerds they aspired to be like as a way to distance themselves from Blackness. And I could spend a few paragraphs dissecting how simply mimicking white people’s cadence and speech patterns is not the same as mastering the rules of grammar that make you a proper speaker of the English language, but I’m sure y’all get the picture.
Black male nerds sharing memes about Black women being welfare queens who only want them after they’ve been dogged by thugs is fucking anti-Blackness. I’m sure Black nerds were turned down by Black girls all the time, but which Black girls? It couldn’t have been Black girls who were into the same nerdy shit as you. If you’re going after Black girls who aren’t into what you’re into, then the rejection is inevitable, and using that rejection as justification for why you don’t date Black women is misogynoir. And I could expound on how being rejected by women of other races didn’t sour many of y’all on interracial dating, but I’m sure y’all get the picture.
Black nerds bragging about how Black non-nerds mocked them for being smart is anti-Blackness. Contrary to popular belief, being into nerdy shit is no indication of intelligence. Even more, the notion that the Black community doesn’t value and uphold intelligence is bullshit. You’re not a special snowflake because you have interests outside the mainstream, and Yu Gi Oh cards do not a genius make. I could expand into how many intelligent Black people don’t know a Storm Trooper from Yoda, but I’m sure y’all get the idea.
So shoutout to all the blerds who love their nerdy shit and their Blackness, never feeling like they have to choose between one or the other. And the Blackest head nod ever to the Black folks who tell you the “’bout that cosplay life.” And a Black ass dap to all my lady blerds who won’t hesitate to put down their anime sketches to stop, drop and twerk to when they hear “Cash Money Records taking over…” And a Black ass “aaaaaaaayyyyyyyeeeeeee” to the Black blerds who don’t speak AAVE or listen to trap music, but still protect and uphold their Blackness while living outside the box.
I’m here for Black people performing Blackness outside the box white supremacy and its purveyors try to fit us into, but i’m never here for anti-Blackness masquerading as bleed culture.
Thoughts? Weigh in below.