Oh, To Be A Blerd And All The Complexities
February 23, 2022
There are plenty of stereotypes that come with being a Black person in today’s society. Whether it’s a thug, ghetto, uneducated, loud, or a trillion other negative connotations, Black peoples’ characters, and personalities are often mislabeled with descriptors that take away from their genuine, positive selves. But many people don’t consider the disadvantage of being labeled as “other,” or a nerdy Black—a label that’s deemed harmful, but honestly a compliment (if you ask us). Too often, Black nerds are overlooked, misunderstood, and unheard. However, their uniqueness has garnered some of the world’s best inspiration and innovation.
What is a Blerd anyway?
The category of “Black nerds,” or as CNN describes it, “Blerds,” has existed for decades and represents a community of Black intellectuals that are intrigued by topics outside of the Black, stereotypical norm, like sports and music. Think cosplay, anime, comics, sci-fi, and anything science fiction to best represent the interests of this group of people.
Some of the world’s greatest artists, producers, and writers come from the Black nerd community, like Issa Rae (who literally calls herself awkward and Black), Donald Glover, and Jordan Peele, to name a few. These creators combine their culture, intelligence, and “other” perspective to give us art, direction, creativity, and novelty. Black nerdom has made its mark in originality, influence, and trendsetting in today’s society.
The unspoken blackball of Blerds
Being intelligent, curious, and quirky hasn’t always been glorified. From the 1990s to the early 2000s, being a Black nerd was not something to brag about and was often laughed at. There wasn’t much of a category to place these extraordinary individuals into, other than stereotypical descriptions of having big ‘fros, zits, lacking social skills, and being unpopular. It wasn’t uncommon for Black nerds to be picked on for being too “white” and ostracised because of their interests and seen as too awkward in other groups. They often felt like they didn’t fit in, and in a sense, the lack of support for Black nerds to be expressive can lead to separation, discrimination, and racism.
On one hand, Blerds may not “fit in” to the narrative set for what or who Black kids should be, and on the other, their extensive interests are too complex or unrelatable for different generations to understand. False narratives pushed from various communities onto Black nerds lead them to separate from the population, almost deeming them outcasts.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. In more recent years, Black nerds have rejected false stereotypes of who they are and redefined themselves through art, culture, music, creativity, and content.
The entertainment industry has shown its light on the Blerd community, highlighting its unique ability to entertain while fostering community. The Astronomy Club on Netflix proves the demand for Black nerd spotlights, and artists alike have answered the call. Glover once said about West, “Kanye West is a Black nerd. If you go up to Kanye West and say, ‘Hey, what are your favorite things?’ He’d be like ‘Robots and Teddy bears.’ That’s a nerd.”
“We owe it to our community of Blerds who fought the good fight of being themselves way before Black nerdom was a thing.”
We owe it to our community of Blerds who fought the good fight of being themselves way before Black nerdom was a thing. These trailblazing outlaws navigated the murky waters of racial identity and culture while creating a pathway for generations to embrace themselves no matter the cost.
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