Steve Urkel Glasses, Suspenders & Social Awkwardness: What Makes Someone A Nerd?

February 15, 2013  |  

The lack of representation of nerdy black people always bothered me.  This has happened long before the term Blerd came into existence and long before people like Pharrell Williams and Lupe Fiasco made nerdiness the new cool.  What bothered me more was the lack of representation of nerdy black women.  I’ve seen a barrage of TV shows, movies, and even cartoon characters that feature nerdy white girl characters.  We can be just as quirky, awkward, and eccentric as any other nerdy girl out there.   The images of black women we see on TV represent a small sample of black women as a whole.  A substantial amount of white characters on TV have a large variance of eccentricities compared to that of black characters on TV.
I am proud to say on “King of The Nerds” there is a black girl nerd contestant named Moogega who is a NASA engineer.  The hit web series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” depict a character named J who is quirky, funny, and at most times dorky in her approach to dealing with life’s challenges.  Slowly but surely nerdy black women are coming into the fold and we are making our presence known.  We’ve always been around; it’s just that society has dismissed us for many decades because being black and nerdy was somewhat of an anomaly.   We can own and embrace our blackness while also enjoying the fruits of other cultures outside of our own.  This makes us more than the one-dimensional depiction that you are accustomed to seeing in the media.
Black nerds sometimes feel threatened to stay in the closet for fear they will be labeled white by their black peers.  There are black women who feel that because they are steampunks, that they are somehow separating themselves from their blackness.  I know black women who feel ashamed to share their tastes in music because it doesn’t derive from black culture.
Nerdiness does not constitute a lack of blackness.  If you are a nerd, then the idea that you have less melanin in your skin than your black friends is not only an absurdity, but it’s an antiquated way of thinking that has got to stop, especially in the black community.  Black nerds wear what they want to wear, speak how they want to speak, date who they want to date, and be who they were always born to be.  Our nerdiness is what makes up a large part of who we are and we refuse to apologize for it.  As a nerdy black girl blogger I am always asked the question, what makes someone a nerd?

The answer?
I believe what makes someone a nerd is what translates to others as your personal authenticity.  That may convey to others as someone who is an intellectual, a geek, a dweeb, or an introvert.  In the end, you are who you are and it’s finally okay to be down with that.


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