Growing up, I always thought that finding fellow Black nerds who shared the same passionate energy towards anime that I had was hard.
I don’t mean simply watching what was on Toonami or [adult swim] at the time. That was easy; everyone and their mothers watched anime on those two programming blocks.
What was hard (and I must repeat myself) was finding fellow Black nerds who were really passionate towards anime.
The ones who would spend countless hours browsing online researching and studying the studios behind such hits such as Gundam Wing, Sailor Moon, and Dragon Ball Z.
People told me that being a passionate anime fan doesn’t matter. That I was too invested into anime.
Discouraged, I kept my passion to myself (or on the wild wild west of the internet of the early 2000s with fellow outcast weeaboos who were discovering themselves) for years.
It wasn’t until after high school that I would find Black nerds who shared my intense passion for weebo culture.
At the tail end of the 2000s, anime started to become acceptable in mainstream American (pop) culture. People were becoming more open with loving anime.
I experienced this firsthand during my first anime convention: Anime St. Louis. There, I found many Black nerds who shared the same artistic drive I had.
I should have been happy at this discovery.
However, something was missing.
During my high school days, I started to discover and understand who I was as a Black man. I’d read books and novels written by Black authors, books on our real history and the horrors of systematic white supremacy. I felt more proud of being a Black young man than a Black nerd through these books.
Black nerds who are Black first and prideful of their Blackness tend to be the outcasts of the outcasts.
Most of my “fellow’ Black nerds whom I met in college and at anime cons weren’t focus on being Black first. They would rather hide from the brutal realities of systematic white supremacy by using anime as a tool of escapism (among other pop culture items).
Some attempted to malign me by calling me a “hotep”, while others stated that I was too concern with being Black or “woke”.
I decided that their opinions were irrelevant.
I was Black first – no matter what. I was committed to seeing my people empowered.
As they dove deeper into their nerdom as a way to escape the horrors of white supremacy, I wanted to end the oppressive system all together. In that regard, I simply couldn’t relate to them.
Yes. I was (and still am) a Black nerd. I had my share of waifus like any other mentality deranged otaku. I lived the weeb life (and continue to do so to this day).
However, despite those things, I refused to let go of who I am as a Black man.
I couldn’t allow my Blackness to be replaced by cosplay, anime, manga, and so on. I knew being a nerd wouldn’t stop a white supremacist from calling the police on me. It does not matter if I wore a Dragon Ball shirt or not. They would focus on my Black skin first and only.
So, where does this lead to?
A call for more fellow Black anime nerds to be on code.
BLACK NERDS AND THE B1 CODE
For the uninformed, the B1 code is simply being Black first.
No, you don’t put your Dragon Ball fanboyism before your Blackness. Being a mega-nerd of Naruto will never override your race.
That is the “logic” of fools who seek to escape the pain of being Black in America and globally. Being Black first means you focus on the Black race: may you be a Foundational Black American, an on-code member of the African diaspora, or a Black immigrate of America.
You look after your fellow Black brother or sister. You do not talk ill about other Black people around the presence of non-Blacks. You ask questions of the legitimacy of a non-Black person accusing a Black person of something; may it be a crime, slandering statements, and et-cetera.
That is our code.
No matter what, you must put your Blackness first – and nothing else. Don’t be like that cornball furry fruit-loop SonicFox who put everything first before his Blackness at the Game Awards 2018 event.
You will not win points from the dominate society.
They will only see you as their precious little token negro, a joke of a human being. And they will always stab you in the back or falsify a case against you the white injustice system once they feel like you no longer provide a service for their agenda.
Your white nerdy counterpart will see your blackness first.
They do not give a damn if you enjoy talking about who’s the best girl in Fire Emblem. They are not concern if you prefer the classic fantasy or modern/futuristic Final Fantasy games. The nerds of the dominate white society – especially the racially insecure ones – will go on alert when they see you.
Why? Because you’re Black in their white dominated space.
ALWAYS ASK QUESTIONS
As a Black person who happens to be a nerd, you must always question the media you consume with fierce analytical thought and critical thinking.
You must be always be concerned with what themes and messages creators place in their media. Turning your brain off when watching media is for mindless chumps who just want to feel good about the detritus they watch or engage in.
You must also question nerd culture.
Ask yourself this uncomfortable truth: Is nerd culture truly for Black consumers?
In fact, I request that you, dear readers, do this: Go on twitter and look up the hashtag “Black October “ (a Black Twitter art trend where Black artists reimagine non-Black characters as Black/Afro-centric during the month of October).
Scroll through until you find a post with at least 25+ comments. Direct your attention towards the reaction of white nerds as they see their beloved non-Black fictional, made up superheroes, waifus, and comfort characters reimagined as Black.
Sure, perhaps you’ll find some obligatory positive reactions, but take notice the negative and racist comments.
The angry criticism aimed at Black artist who dare to make non-Black characters look just like them. The venomous replies of insecure white nerds as they can’t understand why anyone would turn their beloved non-Black characters Black.
The anti-blackness from these white nerds who can’t handle the fact that Black people also like anime and video games.
They are not happy about this.
Let’s take it one step further.
Ever notice that artist tend to make dark skin Black character lighter or utterly white wash them?
When questioned about it, they come up with excuses such as “Oh, well the lighting of my art made the character light-skinned” or “I do not know how to draw people with darker skin” or they block you outright (in which in that case, create a bunch of troll sock-puppet accounts to harass and cyber bully the offending artist until they’re driven them to quit or change their works).
Don’t believe their lies. Artists – both Black and White – have disproven these claims. These artists are instilling their white supremacist views unto Black characters with their art.
Let’s go even deeper.
Ever notice that when Black cosplayers cosplay outside their race, they get heat for it? Let a young Black woman dare to cosplay as Sailor Venus and watch these white supremacist nerds call her “Nigger Venus” or tell her to only cosplay as a Black character.
At an anime con, these alabaster bastards just have to put extras on a Black cosplayer minding their business saying something like “Oh my god! It’s the Black Boruto!”.
They see Black cosplayers as zoo animals dressing up like their icons, not fellow nerds playing engaging in pop cultural appropriations.
Now, ask yourself is this the culture for us?
If you’re smart, then you’ll agree that the white supremacist side of the nerd culture is not for us. So, is there a solution for us on code Black nerds?
Yes there is.
BLACK NERD EMPOWERMENT
As a follower of the B1 code, it is your duty until death to use your Blackness AND your Black Nerd pride to empower your other fellow Black people. You must help them to embrace who they are as Black men and women: not just as nerds or people who define themselves based off of their hobbies.
Sadly , there are many Black nerds who use nerdom as a way to escape white supremacy rather than confronting and vanquishing it.
You must inform them that white supremacy conquers all fields of life: entertainment included.
Some will wake up and realize this. Many however will continue to “sleep” until they get their Negro wake up call (Some drunk Becky cosplayer lying on them and saying that they raped her at an convention, being called a nigger by their white nerd counterpart, etc.).
Always seek out Black Nerds who are also on code
How can you tell? They talk and act like the B1 Family.
They are aware of their nerdy habits but do not let them control their lives. They know when to be a nerd and when to be Black – and they always choose Black first.
Trust me, it is hard to find on-code Black nerds. It may take you a good while to find a Black nerd who isn’t a cornball goofball and understands what it means to be Black.
But, it will be worth it once you find them.
Until next time.
-Benjamin Snow is a co-writer & executive producer for the Swarty Nerd podcast.