10 Years of Being the H. Nerd I.C. for Black Nerd Problems

Unless this is your first visit to the website, there’s a good chance you have heard some version of our origin story. The short version is that Omar Holmon and I met in the Poetry Slam community, became friends, became rivals (not really), became closer friends, shared our nerd affinity with each other and came up with an idea to be our Black and nerdy selves with the world at large. We were different types of nerds when we met. Omar was a comic book and manga/anime omega level threat. I was a gaming and fantasy novel archivist. But we overlapped where it mattered most, we absolutely loved this shit. I believe Nicole Homer said it best about our nerd enthusiasms; We are absolutely the cats that kill a bird and then show up on your front step with it saying “please, partake in this splendor that I am enjoying so much. Trust me, you’ll love it.”

It is an understatement to say things have changed dramatically since BNP launched. Even before, when we were having our eventual contributors post on their own blogs before our site was up and running. Or before that, when Omar, Chace Morris aka Mic Write, and myself were writing BarsInPanels where we adapted rap lyrics to our favorite comic book characters [a decade later, I’m still proud of my adaptation of Nicki’s “Monster” set to Wonder Woman]

Pull up in the jet invisible gangsta /
with a bad b*tch who came from Themyscira

We started with 9 folks who had one thing in common: They were marginalized nerds and didn’t mind flexing their nerdiness in public. I can’t begin to list all the things I learned over the first couple of years whether it was about the nerd community, managing personalities, how content actually works, the responsibility you have as someone on the internet, etc etc etc. But running the website and all the complimentary things BNP did to supplement the site feels a lot like being a parent. In the respect that every time you think you got some shit figured out, you’re confronted with something new that makes you adapt quickly. So you kind of give up on the idea that you have all the answers and shift to always being as prepared as possible. It’s been a fun, exhaustive and ultimately rewarding tenure. One that has truly changed my life.

We’re a decade deep into his now, so I don’t need to preach to you about why it was important then or is still important now to carve out these spaces. I feel confident that sites, personalities, orgs etc. like Black Nerd Problems who have been beating the drum against the same old stories with nothing but white protagonists or the diminished roles of POC in our favorite media has absolutely had an impact on what media looks like today. As for us, I credit us most with so many people learning how to redefine the word “nerd” and letting folks be comfortable in the shit that they like. I’m most proud of being the place where so many writers got their start and launched them into other spaces. Whether that’s becoming editor-in-chief of bigger sites, writing for major comic book lines, becoming a staff writer for nationally known publications, or the myriad of other ways folks have flourished for us and then flourished after us is truly, honestly heart-warming. It is the best compliment, honestly, and proof that when given the opportunity *our people* can create beautiful things.

I was hesitant to do shoutouts because I don’t want to leave folks out, but it feels disingenuous to not mention my homie for life, Carrie McClain, who I feel most definitively, that without her presence, BNP may not still exist or, we might not have made it past that first year. Look, Omar and I were just a couple of heterosexual dudes puffing out our chests on all things nerdy back in 2014 and to say that Carrie kept us centered and grounded would be an understatement. She was patient with us when she barely knew us. Her ideas and guidance was wholly necessary for us to grow beyond just Omar and my own voice, and her enthusiasm as member of the community and as a writer just made us DIFFERENT in all the best ways. Ok, I’m gonna stop gushing about my friend now, just gonna say I love you and am immensely grateful to you homie. 

I want to share some of the viral posts from the site and how they provided touchpoints for us, possibly shifted the way we were viewed, and ultimately make up the DNA of who we are now.

Black Nerd Problems
Art by Tovio Rogers

Possibly the first viral post from the site was The Sobering Reality of Actual Black Nerd Problems. The short version is the post my reluctance to by a giant replica weapon at a comic con event after the Darrien Hunt was murdered by police while in a Samurai Champloo cosplay. It was like an announcement of us, our site, our message, and also a planting of the flag of firmly what our politics were, even in this nerd shit.

Lips Like Peggy Carter, A Nerd Girl’s Adventure With Lipstick was the first banger from Carrie McClain and might still be one of my favorite posts on the site. This early in BNPs life, Omar and I were still writing about 70% of the sites postings and this was so wholly different than anything we could ever muster. It’s fun, its unique, its nerdy, and just everything we weren’t doing on the site yet.

When Jordan Calhoun wrote 29 Years Ago, A Goofy Movie Became the Blackest, Most Underrated Nerd Classic of All Time, I remember being in the drafts laughing like, wait, this negro is serious? Is he serious with this? To quote Inception, my problem was, I wasn’t willing to dream a little bigger darling. This is, without question, still the most read post on the site. And easily, one of the most copied and imitated essays in all of pop culture writing. Jordan saw the Matrix with this one and it has headlined the site for years!

#AceDay and Why Batman Should Come out as Asexual by Lauren Bullock was so bold and so damn courageous. The most surefire way to get people mad at you on the internet is to ponder on the sexual orientation of a popular comic book character that has existed for decades. But the piece isn’t meant to spark anything other than the exploration of a character that we have so much data on that Lauren makes a hell of a case. I loved every word of it.

You may know her as an award winning author of the ongoing Forge and Fracture YA Trilogy, but once upon a time, when we barely knew this human, Brittany N. Williams wrote “I’ve Found My People: Wakanda Simply Doesn’t Give a Fuck,” and I hate to admit, it was probably the funniest thing on the site. And Omar is funny, you hear me. But this post was so thorough, so unapologetic, and just outright funny that it boomed on the site instantly. Folks that I had known for years before BNP, who didn’t even read BNP, were hitting me up and asking me about Brittany and this post. She went crazy on that.

There were so many Omar posts that blew up I didn’t really know where to start but they all moved the needle for our site in different ways. His Saga fancast made us popular on the socials. His Banshee recaps got Black Nerd Problems hooked up with HBO/Max at the time. His Blade II Still has the Most Disrespectful Superhero Fades My Black Ass Has Ever Seen was so good and so funny, I basically made this man rewrite it without visuals because it HAD to go in our book. But I have to go with “An Open Letter to Gohan: You Gonna Stop Being Trash Anytime Soon or Nah?” This is the “Not Like Us” of nerd writing and honestly, the folks that came out defending Gohan on this sound a lot like OVO. It is hilarious, kinetic, and just kind of encapsulates everything that Omar does well with his writing that no one else can really do. He said Gohan was in the Home Movies’ Caoch McGuirk Alternate Costume man. I mean, what are we even talkin’ about!?

There were so many more viral columns, so many more ideas I loved like our Top 5 Dead or Alive series, The Wakanda Barbershop / Hair Salon write ups, the great podcast that Victoria, Mikkel, and Keith have been running for years (basically independent I might add), and I feel confident that our recap game was unmatched. It’s a lot of history for 10 years, and the kind of great (terrible) thing about the internet is that it’s all there to revisit. A very fair criticism of me is that I don’t celebrate the wins enough. So to have the privilege to run a site for ten years and provide a space for so many talented and nerdy people is a win. And it will never stop being that. Thank you for rocking with us, Black Nerd Problems has more on the way.


William Evans

Black Nerd Problems

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  • William is the Editor-In-Chief, leader of the Black Knights and father of the Avatar. With Korra's attitude, not the other one.

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