Black Nerd Men, Let’s Discuss the Anti-Blackness in Our Subculture

By:  H.T., Website:  Rogue Black Nerd

About a year ago, I wrote an article where I stated that the reason that the black nerd men did not prosper in the black community was because it had standards of masculinity that did not favor us.  As I am trying to do this year, I think it’s time I challenged my own past thoughts.  And this one is more than necessary.  I’m from Lansing, the capital city of Michigan.  Lansing isn’t what you would necessarily call a dangerous town, but it is what you would call, in ways, dysfunctional.  As far as growing up as a black nerd here, it’s really not special:  you watch Dragonball Z, you try to be the best fighting game player in town, you go to Shuto Con and pray that the girl your flirting with who’s dressed like a Pokemon is 18, and you buy all your graphic tees and hoodies at Hot Topic while also getting your wall scrolls, swords and marble sodas at the oriental accents store.  

For me and a lot of blerd men in my town, to be fair, it really does at time seem as though being a black nerd is why many of us don’t lose our virginity till we’re in our 20s and why black women our age don’t like us.  I say seems because fact is, I and many other black nerd men can recount encountering many blerd women and for one reason or another, ignoring her or worse, approaching her either with extreme thirst or entitlement because you’re a black nerd man and she’s a black woman.  Again, by the standards that many black nerd men are raised under, we are raised to believe that we are the best choice because we aren’t like the black men that both don’t fit into the idea of respectability that our elders have and also are our greatest rivals in the dating pool.  This is the first step on the road to anti-blackness.

Anti-blackness in black nerd men, while not applicable to ALL black nerd men, is a problem for many.  Fact is, the reason black nerd men grow up believing they are the chosen ones of the black community is because by all accounts our elders bought into the idea that nerdiness could split black people, at the minimum, away from the threatening aggression of blackness that white racists fear even when they have the upper hand.  The belief, as flawed as it is, was that if blerd men could just work hard enough to make it into white spaces and get up the latter, perhaps maybe the dream of Booker T. Washington could come true.  The reality is that in the end, things become a cultural game of Simon Says and the winners are the black people who follow every command regardless of how it affects the other players.  This in essence is what we see with figures like Sheriff David Clarke and Jason Whitlock.  Whitlock is especially a case of what I’m talking about as this is a man who believes that the reason that the NBA trails the NFL in popularity is because of hip hop.  Yes, he’s actually on record having said this.

“Fear is the path to the dark side.  Fear leads to anger.  Anger leads to hate.  Hate leads to suffering.” Yoda — The Phantom Menace

When anti-blackness appears among black nerds, regardless of gender, one thing remains the same:  a constant bashing of black culture for spectacle.  While some black nerd men and women are guilty of this, black nerd men who do this take it a step further and become almost militant in their hate of black nerd culture itself.  I myself have been accused of hating black nerd culture and I apologize for my statements as yes, I was being anti-black but the fact is when we black nerd men cross into anti-black statements, eventually we turn on our own within the black community.  All because we are afraid.  Afraid that all the years of white people telling us we weren’t really black was true when the reality was that we didn’t fit into what THEY thought was being black.  Combine this with the fact that, yes, there really is a shortage of positive images of black nerd men in the media and soon we grow to hate our own.  One often used example in the lamentation of black nerd women’s perceived rejection is that we are the only race that, in droves, rejects nerdy men.  To clarify this, I looked around at my friends.  I know nerdy Latino men who get women, I know many nerdy white men with wives, and Asian men too.  The fact there are so many black nerd men who are single and bitter should be less of a sign of injustice and more on introspection.  The final nail to this fallacy was when I discussed this with a friend who’s an Indian woman, who confirmed that yes, even Indian women don’t just tolerate shitty men just cause they’re smart.  In the end, it’s safe to say this is bullshit.

The reason I believe that black nerd women for the most part didn’t let so much of the black woman nerd narrative be contested within by anti-black statements was that enough of them found comradery in their struggle.  These are women that had come to find joy in their hobbies and interests and love themselves because eventually enough of them learned to love one another.  Of black nerd men who are anti-black, these are men who cannot learn to trust or care for other men among their circles as both masculinity dictates that that’s a hetero no-no and believe that these men are their main competition both in the pursuit of women’s affections and the adoration of white people.

“And for that paper, look how low we’ll stoop.  Even in you in benz, you still a nigga in a coupe.”Kanye West, All falls down

It’s shocking to say, but there really hasn’t been a huge suffering of anti-black black nerds.  I should know as at my worst, the blerd community turned on me when to be honest, I was being an ass.  I trolled podcasts, I annoyed people on social media, and simultaneously was trying to still find a place between social justice and being devil’s advocate.  It’s safe to say my exile was earned and really all I can hope for now is that I blend into the background of content creators and be just a footnote in the history of internet blerd culture at best on what not to be.

I mention myself because the lines of which get crossed for online fame via anti-blackness are a frightening thing to see.  What’s more, it’s willingness to lack self awareness, which could possibly stop them if need be, is how things get where they are.  Things get to the place where blerd grow to hate the black community because to be fair, some do in fact lash out at blerds.  However, this still isn’t justification.

For as much as the Jason Blacks of the world call us “comic coons”, the fact is black nerds embrace nerdy things because for as much as pro-black media seeks to empower black people, it is in ways often depressing.  At the intersection of blackness and superheroes lies hope, but yet and still the idea of pro-blackness doesn’t include blerds because of a combination of hypermasculinity and a very narrow idea of what blackness is.  Which goes to likely what is the biggest cause of anti-blackness in blerd men:  our masculinity.

“Change my ID for the cops, it’s not enough yet, Black male in short shorts, I’m double suspect. Ballin’ since ’83, Half of ’em say gay, Maybe that’s the reason I like Lady What-baby’s-say. I’m a problem. I’m lame as fuck homie. But I rap like these niggas ain’t got shit on me. Fuck the cool kids. Not Chuck Inglish, but people who think That hatin on me makes them distinguished. Like, “What is this nigga doin rap is for real blacks, I hate that fucking f****t man he think that we feel that”Childish Gambino, Backpackers

I’m going to take this time out to talk directly to black nerd men, as I won’t say anything that others don’t already know.

Young nerdy black men, even when a woman has rejected you because she wasn’t into you, it wasn’t because black culture makes being a thug the face of what it means to be a black man.  That’s just what you see and what your told.  The fact is, between the pro-black telling you that strong black men don’t associate with white people and white culture as heavily as blerds do, the misguided hood peers of ours telling us that we act and dress like a lame, our parents and grandparents saying we need to pull up our pants and get a degree, and society itself only showing guys who look like you only either in a bad light or a light that makes you look like asexual beings, I get it.  Having a chip on your shoulder is to be expected when it comes to black culture.  But here’s the thing:  nothing good comes of being the kind of man that will sell out other black people in anger.  It’s not simply that theres no social currency in it among other black people, it’s that it is counterproductive to even our cause of wanting better images of black men period.  You can’t complain that blerd men are seen in a bad light in the black community when many of us will defend white racist ideals.  Hell, me and currently another writer on this site are guilty of being devil’s advocate at times for the usual blerd anti-black talking points, especially about black women.  Yes, the life of being a black man who fights to defend the honor of black women isn’t always a glamorous or sexy job, but so be it.  To be honest, the fact that we as men let our sexual desires lead us into making decisions that are done, not because they will help us or even help others, but rather give the impression they will get us closer to sex.  Again it’s not that they like the bad boy, it’s not that you are a coon, it’s not that your swaggerless, it’s not that you need to be respectable.  It’s that you care.  And the sooner you realize that how you feel about blackness improves when you remove preconceived notions about what it means is when you feel better.


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