Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Black and Nerdy

Being black is hard.

I don't care what you've heard. I don't care what your perspective is. I don't care what country you are from. If you are quote on quote "black" you're automatically stuck with several stereotypes that are as ridiculous as they are insulting. Then to add more of that insult to injury, you're not given a chance to disapprove such negativity through merit or just being who you are.

Now imagine being black and nerdy.

This is where it gets funny and maybe a bit sad depending on your attitude about the whole thing. You see, adding nerdy or geeky or dorky to being black ( for definitions of each see here ) and you get a whole new style of discrimination to deal with. I know, imagine that?

And to give you a clear picture of how much of a nerd I was....

Ahem. Yeah. That was me and still is to some extent. Around this time in my awkward development, I had already been classified as a "dork" by one of my best friends at the time ( ironically a girl ). This was the eighties so I was already into the usual stuff; Transformers, G. I. Joe, He-Man, Thundercats. Unlike everyone else though, I knew more extensive knowledge about those things ( Snake Eyes got scarred in Vietnam ) and asked questions about inconsistencies in the things I liked ( Why was Lion-O walking around naked that one episode and why was everyone cool with that?...)

My chrysalis as a nerd was early. Far too early for other people not to have noticed it, least of all myself. I was smart, bookish, and...well...as well behaved as could be expected and because of that I didn't fit in. Anywhere.

Referring to my previous reference about being black and that coming with some inherent difficulties, let me also bring up the social perils of being a nerd. First of all, you already know what every other geek knows; it never seems like you have enough of your own around you. There's always more of them than you. You don't fit in the puzzle because yours is different. You don't like what they like. You're not into sports. You're not running around trying to be popular and you know what? They don't leave you alone because of that. It's just the opposite.

Now about racism. Let me be clear when I say that all people, regardless of color, can be racist and discriminatory. I know this to be true because I constantly had to hear about how "white" I talked and acted or how "weird" I was for being into stuff that "black" people weren't into. I remember meditating one day and a girl I know, who shall remain nameless, asked me if I was communicating with the dead.

Seriously. Gave me headache.

Of course it didn't end there. How strange it was to be called an oreo ( Really?) or be singled out as the "smart" one all the time or impressing teachers not because I was incredibly smart but because I was black and smart which I suppose by their narrow view point, doesn't seem to happen as often as I thought it did. Oh  and let me not forget "arrogant" or "stuck up". Those, well, those always amused me most.

Then there was getting picked on or singled out. I was and still am, pretty quiet. I guess being well behaved and mannerly made others think I was easy prey. I don't how many times I had to stand up to someone just because or ignore someone just because I didn't want to deal with whatever idiot thing gave them bravery to bother with me.

I couldn't help not being stereotypical. I just like computers, learning, anime, manga, comics, sci-fi, books, video games, cartoons and other geeky stuff. That's why this is my new favorite song.

For you see, being geeky is chic right now. We've got people flying their geek flag proudly. Not to mention I've found that I'm not alone in being black and nerdy. Look at Donald Glover, Donald Faison, Keegan Michael Key, Jordan Peele, or Aisha Tyler. Geeky, nerdy, slightly off or whatever you want to call them, they are definitely not what people consider to be black.

So I still wear glasses and speak properly. I still hate most sports, reality TV, celebrity gossip, modern music and assholes who can't spell and yes, I still watch cartoons ( Adventure Time!) and play video games ( Skyrim....) and hell, I even write sci-fi and fantasy, not to mention I loves the internet.

Not fitting in is hard, don't get me wrong, no one wants to stand alone astride two different groups that can't seem to handle them. I can't tell you how surprised some people are to see me in Books-A-Million or a comic book shop or how much I know about Terry Pratchett or Philip K. Dick.

I'll tell you one thing though about standing alone, it's easier to do so when you know other people are doing the same.