Growing up is tough. Growing up a black nerd is even tougher. There's something about being black and being nerdy that confuses people. When people are confused, they feel entitled to provide commentary -- whether it's innocuous, offensive, or just plain clueless.
However, the times they are a'changing, and black nerds are more visible both in pop culture and in society than ever before. Still, some people haven't gotten the memo that being black and being a nerd aren't mutually exclusive. If you're a self-confessed blerd, then there's a script that other people seem to follow when interacting with you. Raise your hand if you've heard any of the following!
1. "It's like you're not even black."
This one is usually uttered by white friends or acquaintances who actually think they're being nice -- like it's a compliment. Because who knew black people have hobbies too?
2. "How did you end up getting into this?"
This one may seem innocuous, but it's all in the tone. If asked a certain way, you know that it's less about finding out about how you arrived at your passions, and more about the skeptical white dude grilling you because he doesn't think you belong at a sci-fi convention. The translation: How did you access "real art" in the ghetto? Do you have a white friend/parent who broadened your horizons? Are they around to vouch for you?
3. "I'm more black than you."
No you're not, because guess what? How black I am is not measured by how black you think I am. Now please go away forever.
4. "Do you know who that is on your shirt?"
There's nothing that inspires comments from strangers quite like being a black girl in a fandom t-shirt. One notable example: the time I had the audacity to wear a Marvel tank top while shopping, and a store employee felt the need to quiz me. Sure thing, 17 year-old boy, I'll stop what I'm doing to prove that I can list every hero on my shirt as well as their various backstories -- just give me a second to put down my groceries.
5. "Oh, you've heard of it?"
This is usually asked when talking about something really, really well-known ("Oh, you've heard of Game of Thrones?" Seriously dude? Come on.) Being talked down to, as if you don't know anything about anything, is par for the course for black nerds, unfortunately.
6. "Why is everything about race with you?"
This is the go-to comment if you dare to bring up a social issue in conjunction with something geeky. Because God forbid you ruin anyone's mood by talking about how glaringly racist something is!
7. "You're reading into it too much. Just chill out."
If you've heard number 6, you've definitely heard this one. It makes no sense: we're nerds - taking things too far is what we do. But when it comes to social issues within the geek sphere? Well, that's just a step too far, I'm afraid.