The Toxicity of Blerd Culture

By: Squish Shelton

I could never be fully invested or immersed in “mainstream” nerd/geek culture. ESPECIALLY Black nerd/geek culture.

It’s a toxic ass environment for Black women/femme nerds, LGBTQ nerds, and those of us who are at those intersections.

Yeah, I damn said it. And, yes, I can hear your inward groans and your screams of “SJW!!!” at your computer screen as you read this.

Aaaaand, I still don’t give a fuck. I said it because it’s true.

You really don’t need to look any further than social media, especially Facebook. There are so many Facebook groups dedicated to nerd culture, it’s past the point of ridiculousness. But, the Facebook Blerd (Black nerd) groups are where all the fun happens. And, by “fun,” I mean fuckity fuck-fuck-fuck shit.

Now, the question that some folks might ask is, “How can a marginalized group of people be toxic to people within its own community?”

Fam. As a bisexual Black woman, I ask myself that same question every damn day. I’m subjected to a whole heap of bullshit from cishet Black men who think that they’re entitled to my time, my space, and my number. When I don’t give them what they want, I’m a zillion and one bitter fat bitches, and, I’m raising my son wrong. If I point out their misogynoir, the inherent violence in some of the shit they say in conversations about relationships, or point out examples of rape culture in ANY conversation, and I’m an agent that’s dividing the relationship between Black men and women. I’m letting “Them (read: white supremacy/white powers that be/THE MAAAAAN)” win. It’s absolute insanity.

Now, take that exact situation, throw it into a Facebook Blerd group, and it’s the exact same shit– only there’s multiple references to Naruto, broken Japanese they picked up in their adolescence watching anime and reading mangas, and Marvel/DC comics and movies.

I’ve seen entire groups of male Blerds (I call them Beta Niggas), suffering from the effects of self-hate and misogynoir, come at Black women/Femmes in these groups for disagreeing with them on a post. It’s almost as if you heard these “men” gasp and say “How dare you?” as they read the group thread from behind their screen. It’s never an actual fact check, either: It’s literally always “You’re a melanated person with ovaries, so there’s no possible way you could be trying to check me on this subject.” And, when said Black woman/Femme comes with receipts to support her argument, his argument automatically dissolves in to disrespect and contempt for that woman.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t address the rampant antiblackness that exists in these groups as well. Blackface in cosplay is a very hot topic in these groups, and there are a bunch of male Blerds that are perfectly okay with the practice, dismissing arguments against its use as “sensitive,” “living in the past,” “politically correct,” or “victimizing.” These Beta Niggas also allow other non-Black, anti-Black POC come into these groups and completely shit on the Black people in them, cosigning their racist, anti-Black views in order to make those non-Black POC feel comfortable.

All in all, it’s pretty distressing and disheartening.

Now, I could drag these Beta Niggas that, more than likely, have never in the history of their lives even smelled a pair of ladies underwear, let alone had sex with a woman. Or, if they HAVE fucked a woman before or are in a relationship, their girlfriend is usually white. But, that’d be too easy a read.

Bottom line is, it’s already hard being a Black woman. Being a Blerd woman/femme is even tougher because there’s just THAT much more discrimination against us. It is absolutely EXHAUSTING having to constantly affirm your Blackness and your nerdiness to Black men who feel superior to you because they took STEM classes and watched Smallville in high school. There are very few safe spaces on the internet for Blerd women/femmes to gather and be themselves — nerdy, fly, melanated, and magical– without being attacked for being who they are, standing against misogyny in Blerd spaces, and demanding to be treated fairly in those spaces. If Beta Niggas want to participate in a sausage party, I say let them have at it.

I will not continue to subject myself to Beta Niggas and their bullshit. Like, the memes in the groups are cool and all, but I have to fight everybody else on the planet to affirm my humanity…I’m not going to do it to people who are supposed to be my peers. That’s absolutely out of the question at this point.

This behavior will not change anytime soon. I’m not willing to wait it out.

I don’t have any solutions at the moment, either.

I’m just tired, frustrated, and completely over Blerd Beta Niggas and their continuously unchecked bullshit.

Have fun, tho.


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