The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth

Thursday, June 6, 2013

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The Black Borg


by Terisa Thurman

In my eyes, America is an ethnically diverse place and your neighbor could be a member of your race or another.  They can have the same likes and dislikes as you, or not. 

As a child in a military family my first memories are from an American Army base in Ludwigsburg, Germany.  Our neighbors reflected the diversity of America.  Sometimes my neighbors were white, black, Asian, Hispanic or whatever; and it wasn’t unusual for an American soldier to have a wife who was from a country other than the United States. 

I lived in a family unit so everyone had kids like me, who grew up with ever changing neighbors.  We found our common likes and built friendships from that. 

That’s exactly what I expected when we moved to the United States in the mid 80s.  But in some areas, more than I would have thought, it isn’t.

When we moved to the states, we moved back East.  I was one of 3 black children in the entire school, the second was my brother.  The third was a little girl (I believe she was in first grade) with kinked hair and green eyes.  This was the 80’s and persons of mixed races were often considered black with no regard to their full heritage. 

I was okay with being new, I was okay with being different but then things really got uncomfortable when in the summers I was sent to Chicago.  I had family on the Southside and it was a culture shock of epic proportions to be in Black neighborhood.  I attribute this feeling to the criticism that I encountered for being different. 

I felt judged, in a negative way, just for being different.  That wasn’t what I was used to; everyone brought his or her differences to the table and we found out what we had in common and moved forward.  But in Chicago there was a push for everyone to be the same.  Like the same music, speak the same way, and ultimately have the same ideals.  It was just like The Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  The Borg was a race that depended on one main computer to exist.  Everyone was essentially a robot that was fed information and life-force from one machine.  You destroy the machine, you destroy the race.  I was convinced not to succumb to the Black Borg!



I felt unappreciated and trapped and regarded this way of life as Voluntary Segregation.  I judged it harshly in return for the judgment I felt against me.

I saw a world of people who refused to assimilate into modern society.  The color of their skin meant to them that they could only be understood by people of the same color.  I know that’s not true.  I had lots in common with kids of different races, backgrounds and ages. 

And I particularly cringe when I hear the term “us;” like, For Us By Us.  This term and mentality has Black Borg written all over it. 

My skin color doesn’t bind me in such a way; nor does the small-minded thinking of racist people who will never appreciate African-Americans or other minorities. 

When I was attending college in Illinois a Bonnie Rait music video came on Vh1. An African-American student said in passing, “You like country music!” with an outright disgust in her voice. I thought, first of all Bonnie Rait is awesome, secondly I can like whatever the hell I want! 

Then my half-black roommate tried to give me a hard time for listening to and enjoying the Footloose song.
My Roomate: “What’s this! 
Me: “The theme song from Footloose.”
My Roomate: “It sounds like country music to me. 
Me: “Seriously, you haven’t heard of Footloose.  What rock have you been living under?”
She eventually admitted to having heard the song before.  The fact that black people didn’t exist in the Footloose Universe is another story for another day, but please, don’t let the Black Borg keep you from enjoying Pop Culture. 

I’ve since changed my mind on ethnic neighborhoods; I can accept that for some people it is a tradition and a source of great support.  I even tried to join an African American group for Journalist who shall remain nameless, as my experience was less than stellar.  I joined because I thought everyone came here to support each other, that turned out not to be the case and I quickly left that group. 

But I haven’t given up on ethnic support, especially since deciding to wear my hair in its natural state. 


I even had my doubts about joining Black Girl Nerds because Black wasn’t a selling point for me.  But upon getting to know the website I interpret BGN as about recognition of individuality, which I highly value. 

You may group us by the color of our skin but you can’t assume we are of the same frame of mind.  There is no such thing as the Black Borg.

4 comments:

  1. God I love this piece. It just sounded like you narrated my entire childhood. Thank you for sharing this :-)

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  2. Thank Jamie. This is why I love this site!

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  3. I never felt this way as a kid even though the "black Borg" kids told me I talked white etc. I usually thought it was cuz they were poor (and most black kids at my school were poor & from across town to our Richie rich school) today I look at the black Borg differently. Its not thier fault really. When the education system tells you you're stupid, when yousaw more wookies than brothas in space when batman/supermanspidey don't look like you its no wonder lots of black kids in the 80's didn't connect with the genre. They didn't become Borg out of selfsegregation but out of being locked out of any other universe. I forgave, and learned the real villans were elsewhere! :-) and I never gave up my nerd life either!

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  4. what's great about BGN is that we don't limit ourselves by race, age, skin tone, etc. It's a place where we can be free to be us.

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