10 Experiences That Every Black Nerd Can Relate To

Geeking off that nerdy sprite!

As if growing up a nerd isn't hard enough, growing up black and nerdy is a particularly unique experience.

Cliché depictions of blackness in popular culture often neglect the diversity of being black. Black nerds know the struggle of identifying more with Tuvok or Geordi LaForge, rather than rap stars or basketball players. There's also the challenge of not feeling black enough or nerdy enough for either identity. However, black nerds aren't one dimensional, and we are clearly aware of the ways race intersects with geek culture.

There are certain moments that every black nerd has had; from that one white friend who only considers you "technically" black to family members who don't quite "get" your interests but love you the same. These 10 illustrations perfectly capture the challenges and joys that come with growing up a black nerd. Check them out below.

1
Your White Friends Have Said “You’re Only Technically Black”
Aaron Barksdale
This is a challenge that isn't limited to being nerdy, but nerd culture is often mistakenly equated with whiteness. This kind of color-blind racism assumes that black people are outsiders in nerd culture.
2
You Imagine Every Ethnically Ambiguous Fictional Character As Black
Aaron Barksdale
Your imagination is free to run wild about how fictional literary characters may look until you see the movie adaptation. Still readers often recreate characters as people of color in fan-art series.
3
No One In Your Family Seemed To Get Your Interests
Aaron Barksdale
Your parents may have asked "Why don't you play outside more?" Or questioned your lack of interest in sports unlike your siblings or extended family. No matter how hard they tried to understand they never really quite got it.
4
Being One Of Few Black Kids At Cosplay Events
Aaron Barksdale
Although there are few characters of color in mainstream nerd culture fandoms, that never stopped you from putting on a costume of your favorite sci-fi heroes and villains.
5
You've Had To Code-switch For Different Friend Groups
Aaron Barksdale
You may be a nerd, but that doesn't mean you're cut off from other POC. You've developed language about the newest characters in the Star Wars films or bemoaning the fact that your favorite rapper has yet to drop their latest album.
6
Accused Of Acting White By Other POC
Aaron Barksdale
A big challenge of being nerdy and black is that other POC question your blackness. There are many ways to express your ethnic identity and you shouldn't have to limit yourself to stereotypical interests for POC.
7
You've Had To Fight Racist Internet Trolls Over Fictional Characters
Aaron Barksdale
The Internet can be a mean place. Trolls lurk about everywhere these days just to feed off of drama. Still when you see racist trolls coming after POC characters you have to defend their honor!
8
You Always Had To Prove Yourself To Other Geeks And Fandoms
Aaron Barksdale
When you're a black nerd your authenticity is almost always questioned by other geeks and members of fandoms. Some people have claimed that black people appropriate nerd culture, which is ridiculous.
9
Clinging To The Few Mainstream POC Characters In Sci-Fi And Fantasy
Aaron Barksdale
Although several independent and online sci-fi publishers and filmmakers are creating content for diverse audiences with greater representation of POC, mainstream industries are moving at a much slower pace. Even the most knowledgeable nerds struggle with identifying superheroes that are also people of color.
10
Eventually Finding “Your People” On The Internet
Aaron Barksdale
While you maybe one of the few black and nerdy kids in your community, there's a virtual home for alternative black kids online. There are other black nerds who can relate to your experiences and best part is they're only a click away.

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