xoGEEK: Being a Black Girl Nerd Is Finally In

A huge part of being a nerd is owning it, proudly and shamelessly. And there's certainly things about being a proud black woman that involves owning our individuality and flaunting it as well.
Publish date:
November 18, 2014
geeks, nerds

I have waited all my life for this moment. And it has finally come.

Being a nerd, being black and being a girl are now three characteristics that attractively lace together.

As other aspects of black culture have begun to be accepted -- natural hair, the beauty of dark skin, the wonder of various cultures and communities -- being nerdy has always been deemed a curse, and being a black girl has historically been a challenge both socially and personally. So being all three is like hitting the jackpot. (To borrow from James Baldwin on being born poor, black and gay.)

When I was younger, I had conversations with boys about comics and the select video games I played -- by "played," I mean watched my older brother play, feeling like we were in this virtual movie where we suffer infinite deaths -- and felt disappointed when none of those boys were attracted to me, as they preferred the more ladylike, straight-haired, fair-skinned girls.

Now, when I converse with people of the opposite sex about cartoons and politics, it is actually a turn-on. Ask my boyfriend.

No longer do I have to hide my love for zombies and werewolves, or pretend that vampires are fascinating.

No longer do I have to pretend that I enjoy shaving, or that getting perms didn't suck. My glasses are actually cute this time around, because they're not like the awkward male frames my daddy used to pick out for me when I was a kid.

The days of getting grilled by the pretty girls when the popular guy likes me are over! The ridicule of reading up on Supernatural fan sites are no more! And thank you, goddess of dork divinity, because I've finally reached the age when being a lady who reads an obscene amount of literature is actually an aphrodisiac.

No more telling of jokes that people don't understand. No more wearing hand-me-downs that people ridicule. That's because "hand-me-down" now means "vintage" and mixing and matching my grandma and mom's decades-old pieces is now considered something people respect, as if I have this innate mental capacity of making something ancient look everlasting.

For once, knowing the names to more than five Marvel superheroes is just as cool as knowing how to twerk. I've always known how to twerk, and befriended several Marvel heroes as a child.

I can wear Spice Girl pumps and it's okay, because I'm not 9 anymore.

I can do Spice Girl hair styles and it finally makes sense, because I have boobs and long legs to match.

There are unlimited cosplaying opportunities (well, limited if I consider only doing black female characters), the chance to travel the world and geek out with other nerdy women, and the priceless, adorable moments of talking nerdy with my sarcastic and stimulating lover.

I don't have to hide the snort that ejects from my nose whenever something is truly hilarious, because it is now called endearing.

I can have sweeping conversations on music, movies and ’90s nostalgia and be deemed a goddess of pop culture. Before, I was just a shy girl who geeked out over the Aaliyah-Ginuwine-Timbaland-Missy-Magoo clique way too hard and found too many subliminal meanings and possible alternate endings in simple teen films.

Still don't think that nerd-tastic, nonconformist black women are rising among us? Just check out Janelle Monae, queen of the quirk and of the androids. Or peep FKA Twigs, whose music is creepy, sensual and clever all at once.

True, most of the traits listed above don't have much to do with the nerdy persona. But in my opinion, a huge part of being a nerd is owning it, proudly and shamelessly, even during moments of adversity. And there's certainly things about being a proud black woman that involve owning our individuality and flaunting it carelessly, even when it isn't considered normal.

Just thinking of what this means for America's youth sends my brain into a fine, fantastic frenzy. My 15-year-old cousin has accomplished more in her short years of black girl nerd-dom than I did in my junior high school and high school days. She went natural at the tender age of 12, introduces me to new anime all the time, and participates in robotics competitions at her school. And there are a lot more little brown females like her.

Power to the black girls, and to every girl, in all your quirky, queer, kinky, curly, nerdy, clever, artsy, tomboy-ish, dorky, creative, unique, dope badness. (I hope I didn’t miss an adjective!) Go on with your smart, silly self.