Blerds: Origins of the Black Geeks and Nerds

Hey Geeks,

As you may well know this is Black History Month and us here at GeekSide take on the duty of exposing and celebrating the history of African Americans in this country with pride.  

This month is about a more holistic understanding of the history of the country. Black History Month give us a chance to focus on a people who tend to be skipped in the broad scope that is America’s past.  

The potato chip was invented in 1853 by George Crum and the world will never be able to thank him enough…

These “Hidden Figures” and facts are much like the epic stories and tales that we cling to as geeks.  Often there are these outcasts or outsiders destined for something more. To know that our history is riddled with real people who lived these kinds of experiences is cause for us to Geek Out as we may find ourselves becoming Fanboys of folks that would have been overlooked otherwise.

We encourage you to embrace this month and join us in focusing on Black History in the Geek community.  

Today we are going to talk about a group in geekdom that has been involved in the development of some of our favorite things.  From the Voice of Darth Vader to the development of the gaming cartridge the Blerds have been there.  

Blerd is a term used to identify a Black nerd/geek; an African American who is into geek culture.  For several, the experience is unique and often plagued with challenges. Typically, there is a certain level of doubling down on your weirdness.  Not only are you weird because of your passions but also because of a stigma, cultural expectation, that you do not fit into neatly enough.   

At the cookout and no one knows how to play D&D…

Often in predominantly Black environments, you are expected (as with any other niche communities) to behave a certain way.  Coupled with the fact that the majority of us are not exposed to people of color displaying excellence in the STEM fields, these communities are less inclined to encourage focus in those arenas. Though we may be able to objectively number thousands of black engineers, scientists, and inventors, in personal circles; the common ideology that “Black folks don’t do that.”

There is also an over-exposure of the success that Black people have displayed in Athleticism and specific areas of Entertainment. This causes a tendency to neglect the black directors or the black writers. Thusly, the focus is to be on camera, rather than behind it, making the shows that could dismantle those limiting mentalities.

Seldom is there a story in the fantasy/sci fi genres with a majority black cast. Despite all that, Blerds are not deterred from being enamored with these genres and geek culture.

BlerDCon is a comic convention that also showcases Geeks and Blerds in all their geeky glory.  It is an event centered around being a welcoming place for nerds of the Diaspora and a safe space for all.  

“The word blerd has evolved to become a symbol of unity for all nerds; BlerDCon is a team of lifetime geeks that has rallied around this concept to create a con for all.”–blerdCon.com

We know every geek is special and outcast or out of place.  It is important for us at GeekSide to show that they are not alone. GeekSide and BlerDCon are a couple havens for people who share that experience. We hope this convention is one that opens eyes and plants seeds of creativity, allowing Blerds to develop and introduce their stories to the mix of popular geek culture.

Are you a Blerd? Are you going to BlerDCon?

Let us know, in the comments below…

–H00k 0ut

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