The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth

Thursday, November 29, 2012


The De Facto Black Nerd: Should There Be One?

I am a very inquisitive person.  I also never like to take things at face value and prefer to do my own research before coming to a conclusion.

Call me crazy, but that's just how I do.  Must be the nerdette in me.

Having said that, lately there has been an upsurge in online magazine articles and social commentary about us---Black Nerds.  It's actually quite exciting to me, because for the first time I have noticed a profound interest in our subculture from the mainstream media.

For example, just today Eric Deggans who wrote an article last week about the term Blerd made a guest appearance this morning on CNN to talk about the rise of the Black Nerd.

(Unfortunately my DVR crapped out on me today and I missed the broadcast.)  

However, what I found intriguing over the last few weeks especially, was that the few times this discussion comes up (which has relatively only been a few) that there are the "de facto" Black Nerds that are included in the discussion.  Namely Kanye West and Donald Glover.  As far as nerdy black girls are concerned, we have our Issa Rae and our Melissa Harris-Perry thrown in every once in awhile.

But here is my question to all of you, because I would like to know your feedback about the "new depiction of the Black Nerd".  Because let's be honest, even though being a Black Nerd is absolutely nothing new, there is a contemporary perspective in the media associated with black nerdiness.

I've noticed that there are a few niche sites and blogs that depict black nerds (blerds) as cool hipsters.  Now I'm not saying anything is wrong with fact, I've known many nerdy black hipsters for most of my life and love them all to pieces.  (Wow that kind of sounds like the old addage---well many of my friends are black.  Okay bad phrasing, but you know what I mean).


I'm just curious to know should there be a face to what represents the Black Nerd subculture?

And should that face be a hip hop star like Kayne West?  Or a comedian like Donald Glover?

I'm only asking this because of the recent accounts of commentary and articles written.  I mentioned in my last post about the group of Black Nerds discussed when we have the blerd conversation.

Let's start with Kanye West:

First of all, I don't want to take anything away from Kanye West, because frankly he's one of the best and most influential hip hop artists of our generation.  Love him or hate him the man is talented.  Having said that, in my opinion (be gentle please) I never saw Kanye West as a nerd.  It wasn't until critics, artists, and fans branded him with that label that suddenly I would cock my head to the side and think..."well maybe he is a nerd?" 

I put out the following question on both the BGN Facebook fan page and Twitter pages:

What are your thoughts about Kanye West being depicted as the "de facto" Black Nerd in the media? Do you agree that he represents Nerds? Or do you disagree? Would love to know your thoughts and feedback!

A plethora of responses flowed instantly and obviously this was a hot topic since several readers had alot to say.  Here are just a sample of the responses:



WeAre NerdCaliber Hmmm... He's a genius when it comes to music, but I never really thought of him as a nerd.

 Dana Casper Um he is a nerd. I don't know if I'd call him the de facto nerd...I think Donald Glover is more of the de facto nerd in the media.

Stephanie Carter I don't think of him as a nerd if we go by the traditional definition of a Nerd. He does seem socially awkward. That is the closes I've seen to nerdiness. I think he has the title because he is 'cool' nerdy. I think there are more nerdy Black men that should have the title.

N Rochelle Harris I disagree. Nerds tend to choose mates who are equal or better.....he seems to do quite a bit of j/k Seriously, #imo, he's just eccentric. The media just doesn't know how to label him- he's so different from most rappers, especially the "hood" guys.

I agree with the latter part of the last comment.  Kanye West is eccentric and does not fall into the hip hop stereotype perpetuated in the hip hop community for decades. Therefore, perhaps the media does feel the need to put him into the alternative category.

I get that alternative culture and alternative thought constitutes nerdiness.  I believe strongly that it is part of our creedo as nerds.  Pharrell's I-AM-OTHER concept articulates it beautifully.

Should we select a de facto nerd to represent the black nerd community?  If so, whom?

Let's move onto Donald Glover.  Yes, everyone loves this guy.  I love this guy.  I have a secret crush on him (to be honest).  What I like about Donald Glover is the fact that he embraces the aspects of nerdiness that is truly authentic in land of "Geekdom".  He's a comic-lovin, cornball acting, Spiderman-daydreaming comedian who speaks openly about his awkwardness.  Let's be honest, the moment he sang the "Reading Rainbow" theme song and geeking out when he meets Levar Burton (an OG blerd) that moment for me truly defined his nerdiness.  So compared to Kanye West?? I think the Childish Gambino won this nerd fight.

Should we have a person represent an entire subculture of individuals?


There are several types of nerds.

You have your hipster nerd...Kanye West (I guess?) and Pharrell Williams

You have your goofy comedic nerd...Donald Glover and Issa Rae

Your have your political nerd...Melissa Harris-Perry and Baratunde Thurston

You have your punk nerd...Cree Summer and the band Fishbone

You have your cranial nerd....Neil deGrasse Tyson and  Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson ( first black woman to head the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission)

There are waaaay too many of us and types of us to put a face to.  Therefore, maybe there shouldn't be a de facto black nerd.  I think it's an exclusive and obtuse perspective to base a certain group for an entire population.  Hopefully the media will be more progressive with the notion that black nerdiness does not have a face or a designer label.

It's just us being


  1. This blog post feels familiar. It feels like something I read earlier this week. Did you credit all of your sources?

  2. Not sure what you mean. Please link the site you're referring to in your comment or you can email me. Thanks! :-)

  3. I read this blog earlier this week. Rereading it, I see you did, too.

  4. Yea I cited this article in a previous post. What's familiar? The fact that we are talking about the same subject?

  5. That last paragraph sums up my perspective perfectly. We're not monoliths.

  6. That's interesting post. Very informative. Thanks for sharing...,,,,,