Overall the Black nerd/geekcommunity is very open to anime/manga/comic book lovers of all levels; however, there is a slight resentment felt on both sides that is rarely ever addressed in more than just a slightly passive aggressive subtweet on Twitter.
Let’s talk about Blerd and Black geek culture for a sec.
“Blerd culture” didn’t become a thing until about 5 years ago. This is not saying that there weren’t Blerds and Black geeks in the years and decades before 2012, as there were undoubtedly millions. This is to say that before a few years ago, nobody was really checking for us.
“I’m a black nerd and that was illegal until 2003,” joked Donald Glover in one of his Comedy Central standup specials. In 2012, CNN published an article entitled, “The rise of the black nerd in pop culture,” as they correlated being nerdy and Black becoming more mainstream due to a new nerdy and Black president.So this is where the strife is seen:
What was life like for the Black geeks and nerds before 2012 or before 2003? I’ll tell you. Lonely AF.
The strife, however, comes from a certain group of newly embracing Black geeks and nerds having amnesia of what life was like when being Black and nerdy wasn’t cool or on trend. In the memories of longtime Blerds and Black geeks lies the countless times that they had anxiety as the bell for lunchtime rang, as well as the times on the bus or basketball court where they wanted to casually talk about that epic battle on Bleach last night but knew no one would even try to relate.
They remember being the only Black person in Asian culture club and the only Black person in the comic book store. They remember their hobbies being called “white people stuff” and being called a “wannabe-Asian.” At the same time, they remember being the class representative for all things “Black culture” because they were usually the only Black person in the room.
Therefore, we have the conundrum of being bullied for not being Black enough yet also taking on the responsibility of being the Black representative in almost every situation.
Now let’s talk about these so-called “bullies”. You have some who are still set in their ways to this day and still classify regular everyday activities as “black shit” or “white people shit”. There are also some who hate whenever a Black person brings up anything about being bullied by other Black people in the past for being different . They use words like “special snowflake” and say that we should just “get over it” and stop acting like we are different or for us to stop acting like we actually got bullied. In these people’s eyes, because it didn’t happen to them, it didn’t happen to anyone. Plus times are different now, so we should just forget about it, right?
Then there are those who used to pick on and laugh at the “weird Black kids” in school, but now like all of the things that these weird Black kids have always liked. You also have those who, now that it is cool, will recall the few times that they watched Dragon Ball Z as a kid and bring it up any chance that they can. There are several exceptions, but these two groups are the “new Blerds and Black geeks” that we are referring too.
Both sides easily get defensive when topics about Blerd culture is brought up because one group remembers their personal struggles when mainstream media outlets weren’t jumping at the opportunities to capitalize on Black nerd culture by adding a “blerd” section to site, while the other group doesn’t want to be seen as a bandwagoner. Most longtime Blerds and geeks understand that the new Blerds and geeks also had a struggle. While longtimers decided that it was worth it to explore new things that they liked at a young ages even if it meant getting bullied, we understand that newbies just decided to come a little late to the party after the groundwork was laid.
To many longtime Black geeks and nerds, watching comic books/manga/anime become mainstream in Black culture is like hearing the band that only you knew about be played on mainstream radio; on one side you are happy, but you still miss the old days.