bullying black nerds for being “different” is a form of anti-blackness

March 31, 2017
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When black kids bully other black kids who don’t conform to a normalized model of blackness, what is it about seeing someone who diverges from what they’re told that they must be, that triggers a negative reaction? Making fun of people, going out of the way to be cruel or rude to others, on its face, doesn’t make a lot of sense. Maybe you’re just an asshole. But when you take aim at people who, at least, look like you and are members of your cultural community, what might that say about you?

One possibility is that this type of bullying stems from trauma-induced internalized anti-blackness. The trauma of being a person of color in a society that’s controlled by white supremacy.
Namely, deadly white supremacist stereotypes that have unfortunately been internalized by many in our community (that Black people are dangerous/act like gangsters/thugs, that they’re not intelligent, that they cannot shine/be original/break the mold, that they fail in school, that they listen to only certain types of music and lyrics, etc. i.e. precisely the boxes a lot of bullied kids/”nerds” refuse to be trapped in).

Yesterday, we addressed how being bullied is not an excuse for Black nerds to be anti-black and pathologize their community. Today, we look at the bullies’ share of anti-blackness.

Seeing people who don’t match our expectations can be jarring and disconcerting because it calls into question what we’ve been told and what we think to be true, about society and about ourselves. This makes some people angry. We see this when we talk about the disproportionately high levels of violence against trans women, we saw this with the white terrorist who killed a black man this month in NYC because he “disagreed” with interracial relationships. And we all saw this when white people wanted to “take back the country” after having a black president. Likewise with black kids who question and marginalize and bully other black kids for being more than what they’re “supposed to be”.

By holding and purporting a reductive, narrow-minded view of what black people can be, we limit ourselves and we limit each other; which is certainly a key component of white supremacy.