I go harder than Metapod when it comes to anime conventions. In my adult life, they are a rare and wondrous reprieve for me to indulge in my animated kickbacks. Like many other POC nerds, I have noticed a lack of mainstream conventions and media outlets highlighting the achievements and talents of marginalized nerds. Luckily, I have heard of a new convention hitting the scene this coming June, whose focus will primarily be on underrepresented groups in nerdoms called Blerdcon. I had the opportunity to interview the creator of Blerdcon, Hilton George, so please take a look!
Black Nerd Problems: Please tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hilton George: My name is Hilton George, and I am the creator and convention chair for Blerdcon. I am a geek and cosplayer based out of DC who was introduced into the con scene in 2014!
BNP: Where did the concept of Blerdcon originate from?
Hilton: Well, the word “blerd” (black nerd) has been around since it’s mainstream debut on the series “SCRUBS”. It describes me and others perfectly and has been slowly catching on for the past few years.
The concept for the con, however, came to me after observing all of the diversity in the con attendance not proportionally reflected on most con’s guest lists and programming. As an avid con-goer, I wanted to know if there were any large scale cons that highlighted underrepresented populations within the con community. The answer was no.
So, I began researching other cons looking for structures and formats to emulate while working on the foundation for what I’d named “Blerdcon”. I decided on an inclusive and open theme that acknowledged other minority communities with similar struggles for representation. So you will see a diverse cross section of programming highlighting POC, LGBT, women and those with disabilities.
BNP: What are some issues you have noticed occurs frequently in the convention circuit? How do you recommend we as collective nerds combat them?
Hilton: Cons are hyper-social events where not-so-social people are crowded in close proximity for days on end. In that environment, every issue we face online gets amplified. People’s negative attitudes about women, people of color, those of other gender identities and sexual orientations become front and center. Online, we can block, ignore or report abuse with a mouse click. In an elevator, or on the con floor, it’s more real.
So we have to be deliberate, loud and conscientious in policing ourselves and gauging our interactions to maintain safe spaces for everyone. “See Something, Say Something” is how we all can apply ourselves to make sure people are safe and enjoying themselves.
BNP: What do you hope Blerdcon will accomplish?
Hilton: I hope it encourages the geek community to step out and inject their uniqueness into everything they do. Take ownership of your womanhood, ethnic heritage, gender or sexual identity, physical challenge or race and know that your contribution is essential to a thriving fandom.
I also want to inspire cons to step outside of the mainstream in their programming and guest lists to dig a little deeper to bring out artists and creatives who may mot have huge followings, but can add immense value to the con scene.
BNP: If you could brunch with any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Hilton: Good question. I’d have to say, Tyler Durden, because he eats with his hands and could carry a whole conversation on duvets and high-end soap!