Black Nerd Bullet Points

Black nerd7

  • 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 probably Timbuktu 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.
  • “I’m black and I’m proud – irrelevant / I’m black and intelligent” – KRS One – Get Yourself Up
  • Black nerd7

4 thoughts on “Black Nerd Bullet Points

  1. Dr Sobers. Whilst I agree with the general sentiments of this post, I disagree with some of the details. As I understand the word, a ‘nerd’ is someone who is very bookish and intellectual, but who may lack social skills and charisma, lacking confidence interacting with those outside their social circle, and especially with those of the opposite sex (see TV comedy Big Bang Theory). Whilst Martin, Malcolm, and Marcus may have been intellectuals, their considerable charisma meant that they certainly were NOT nerds. I applaud the general sentiments of your post though.

  2. Hello Lee,

    Thanks for your feedback. Yes point taken about that popular culture representation of ‘nerds’. I knew I’d be taken a risk mentioning those eminent and respected names in this context. I wasn’t really buying into that definition of nerds that you describe when I mentioned those names, more the point that okay to be bookish, and as you say intellectual. But yes I agree with you, the term nerd also needs fleshing out more as there is a popular image to what it is. The point I was trying to make was that these days any interest in bookish things can get the person accused of being a nerd, irrespective of their social skills etc, so it’s about re-positioning what that term means. I have good social skills etc, but if someone wants to call me a nerd, that’s fine with me. The ‘shield’ of nerd can allow ones to just keep themselves to themselves, and not try to fit in with the so called cool kids. Behind that public shield, they could be just as cool as the next kid, but in their own individual way with no bravado or front!! 🙂
    Thanks again. It’s an interesting topic, I may come back to it again….


  3. So…there is a bit of a black nerd uprising among urban youth States side. I think a lot of kids really got bored with the limited representations available when I was a teenager (not that long ago!) and started doing things and wearing things this is typically associated with whiteness…as is the nerd archetype (with the exception of Steve Urkle…that was…something else!). We have bookish alternakids with dr martins, piercings who are proud to call themselves nerds. Go to tumblr and type in black nerd for some interesting visuals. We on the come up, son!

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