I made this graphic in honour of Zadie Smith, who on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs told Kirsty Young, “It’s good to be a Black nerd — I enjoy it.” I totally agree!
It would be great to hear more Black people in the public eye in the UK and US say this . It’s time. Especially those in the music business. I won’t call on any names….
In the UK there are still not enough Black teachers and academics in our schools, colleges and universities. There is only so much blame you came lay at the door of the institutions, as first you need a long queue of Black Nerds knocking on their doors trying to get in. Black Nerds, young and old, need to make this change happen through persistence.
Black Nerdism is Cool.
Hip Hop culture has seen language being used in an empowering way through employing reverse meanings – for example, the (racist) “Man” says I’m bad, but I’m not bad I’m good, so therefore bad must mean good, wicked means good, dark means good, sick means good, Nigger therefore must be a term of affection. So let’s do the same with ‘Nerd’. Forget O.G. I’m the baddest O.N. on the block!
I don’t own a pair of trainers. Hard to believe that in the 80s I had pride in my trainers and used to wear tracksuits into town.
To get more Black teachers and academics in our schools, colleges and universities, we need more Black children coming out of schools wanting to do those professions, and with the qualifications to do so. This is why I hate streaming and class sets, as it locks children into classifications and sedates their expectations. Streaming in illegal in most other countries in the world except UK and USA, and even the writers of Wikipedia acknowledge the racist tendencies of streaming, and for more academic rigour, see the publications of the excellent Professor David Gilborn as a comprehensive starting point.
Also in schools – Black Nerds need to become a force to be reckoned with. They need to become a (peaceful) gang, like the type we see in American films and TV shows – the nerds vs jocks etc. Other children should want to join them and be a Black Nerd, even the white children! As I said above, Black Nerdism is Cool. Fact!
Black Nerdism is a part of Black culture, it does not mean you are becoming white. Let me repeat that! To be a Black Nerd means you are even Blacker than before, it does not mean you are becoming white! Imhotep was maybe the first high profile Black Nerd – an Egyptian born about 2500 years before Jesus. He was a master of medicine, architecture and the sciences.
The Spiritual home of Black Nerdism is probablyTimbuktu in Mali, which was a world centre of learning and famous for its many libraries with centuries old manuscripts. But if the spiritual home of your Black Nerdism is your local library, or even your local internet provider, that’s cool also.
Malcom X was a Black Nerd.
Martin Luther King was a Black Nerd.
Qedamawi Haile Selassie was a Black Nerd.
Marcus Mosiah Garvey was a Black Nerd.
To call someone a Nerd is the highest compliment you can give them.
Black Nerds don’t only have to talk about so called “Black Issues”, you can talk about whatever you like, as you have a right like anybody else to comment on any aspect of life experience. But when called upon or inclined to do so, try to articulate something about the ‘Black experience’, as you’ll have a useful and powerful platform to do so, and this will be a platform that many others do not have.
Black Nerds are not community spokespeople or leaders.
There’s a racist joke that says, if you want to hide something from a Black person then put it in a book. Well I say, open and read those books, and conquer the fool who tried to fool you.
Black Nerds do not yield to peer pressure or popular trends. If you want to wear your trousers up across your waist, using a belt so that your trousers don’t fall down, then that is absolutely fine with me!
Do not see other Black Nerds as threats. They are your support network and comrades.
Do not be surprised to see another Black Nerd. They are normal.