Ancestry for Nerds: How I Found My Blerd Roots Hiding In Plain Sight

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My mother had a hard time dealing with me growing up; not because I was always in trouble in school or out in the streets late, or even because she was a single mother. No, my mom’s biggest complaints dealing with me was that I would talk about comics all the time. I actually got a “talk” about being so nerdy, man. She gave me the nerd version of that talk you get about growing up Black in America. My nerd game was so strong and pure back in my youth. If it was Wednesday she knew not to come in the room unless something is on fireunless something of importance is on fire …unless my shit is on fire.

Every time I finished a comic I would come out to the living room where she’d be watching Jeopardy (she always answered the questions aloud like she’s on the show) and look at me, let out a sigh, and then go back to the TV as I would enter a straight up PowerPoint presentation.

Me: Then the underrated god of the Green Lanterns John Stewart had to knock the Sinestro Corps’ sniper from three sectors away. Sectors are equal to galaxies though!
Mom: …
Me: You must not have heard me. I said it’s equal to an entire galaxy.
Mom: … *tilts to the right trying to see around me standing in front of the TV*
Me: THE DUDE IS THREE GALAXIES AWAY *long pause* AND HE GOT CLAP’D BY JOHN IN 5 SECONDS!
Mom: Why do you always wanna talk about this when I’m watching TV?
Me:… … ….And as John shot the sniper we got to see every nut and bolt of the gun as he created it. Look at this.

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Mom: Ughhh. *walks to bathroom*
Me: *slides comic under bathroom door* But do you see what I’m saying on that splash page?
Mom: OMAR! I’M USING THE BATHROOM!

It got to a point where she had a sit down with me saying that if I find someone I’m interested in I should hold off on letting them know just how deeply I loved comics. “Maybe you just introduce the whole comic book passion down the line, and not up front.” When she met my girlfriend at the time the first thing she said was, “It’s so great to meet you… Did he tell you about the comic books?” I could hear Mom smack her hand to her head for a facepalm as I was showing my girlfriend my room, and the next thing she heard was, “Wait… you keep your comic books in your clothes drawers?” to which I replied, “Don’t you judge me!”

There was this one time I was was re-watching the chunnin exams in Naruto and I was on the best fight in the fucking exam (best in the series, really… Yeah I said it), Rock Lee vs Gaara. I had to bring this shit out to the living room and show my mother. You might be asking why, but if you’ve never seen some shit so flames that you gotta share it with someone then I don’t know what world you’re living in. You see some crazy shit and just have to find the nearest person to share the experience with. I was explaining Rock Lee’s lack of abilities compared to all the other ninjas in the series and how he has to rely on his hand-to-hand techniques and unlock the limits on his body through chakra gates. She was dead silent watching the fight.

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We got to the ending where Rock unleashed his Reverse Lotus attack, and all the dust clears and Gaara’s sand barely saved his ass. Then Gaara crushes Rock’s arm and leg and my mom was like, “What is this?” then Gai steps in to prevent the final kill (y’all remember how this goes) and it was announced that Rock was disqualified. Then during the most BEAST scene in the the whole arc, Rock stood up unconscious to fight, and Gai had to tell him it’s over, that he a real ass ninja, and that it’s okay. My Mom shouts,

Mom: HE LOST?!
Me: *Staring at the screen with 6 god prayer hands held to my mouth while nodding*
Mom: But he tried the hardest out of everyone…
Me: *Squats down and continues nodding*
Mom: This is stupid, why’d he lose? He should have won!
Me: *Still nodding* Because life isn’t fair.
Mom: Yeah, but– He tri– this doesn’t– ARE YOU CRYING?!

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It’s only in hindsight, years later, that I suddenly realized something about my mother that I wish I could have said to her back then. If I had a time machine I would mos def go back in time just to tell her, “Yo, you know you’re a huge nerd right? You know that?” For real man, this woman was getting on my case about not stepping outside of my whole comic-book world but asking me when the next super hero movies are out. I went with her to see Spawn, yo. Twice. The frustrating part is that she’s dead, so I can’t even call her up with this new-found realization and I don’t feel like going to the rooftop of my building to reenact R.Kelly’s “I Wish” music video and talk to the sky because it’s dead winter right now. Also she’d just have Mufasa keep me on hold just to avoid me being right. This is like when you finally have a good comeback for for somebody’s comment but it’s literally years later and they’re no longer physically on this plane.

Nah, man. Hell naw, man. I’m bout to drop a di (get it) on how nerd body my mom was. Out here acting like nerd shit fell on me; like this life was the life I chose. She knew about The Boondocks before I did. She was the one that told me it was a comic strip in the papers and was reading it way before I knew what it even was. Her favorite heroes were the X-Men, she took me to get my first action figure when I was six. It was my birthday and I remember we walked to the store and got the VINTAGE STORM.

I said THEE VINTAGE STORM, muh fuckas: all black outfit, silver fox hair with the gold lightning bolt on the chest that lit up so you knew it was real. You know what the fuck I’m talkin’ ’bout — that classic Ororo Munroe; that “I am every woman” Ororo Munroe; that throwback “You see we never ever do nothing nice and easy, We always do it nice …and rough” Tina-Turner-Proud-Mary Ororo Munroe. NERD!

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Moms blessed the youngin’ with that action figure. She collected rocks as a hobby and had mad books about quartz, limestone, and sedimentary rock. MOMS WAS A CRYSTAL GEM AND A EARTH BENDER, MUH FUCKA! NERD! She was right by my side playing Street Fighter II back in 1992 (even though I was grounded and couldn’t play the game for a week when I first got it, but we’re not talking about that right now), then sixteen years later saw the commercial for Street Fighter IV and said, “Omar is that the same game with Ryu? I WANT THAT GAME! GET IT. I WANT IT!” NERD! That woman went toe-to-toe with me in WCW Revenge on Nintendo 64. We were cleaning the living room and I walked in and caught her lifting the controllers to dust under them:

Me: Whoa… whoa, what are you doing?
Mom: I’m going to put them back, Omar. I had to mo–
Me: –Nah, you holding the rock right now. You pick up the controllers — that’s like picking up a sword. You challenging me to a duel right now. That’s just the rules, Mom. I don’t make them but I abide by them and all I know is I love you… But if you challenging me we got a problem *claps hands* that I’m ‘BOUT to solve on the sticks.
Mom: *drops broom*…Turn the damn game on.

A regular muggle-built mom would’a just put the controller down and walked away, but it’s nerd pride that got her into that fight. And she passed that nerd pride to her children because she has two other kids like me. My sister Kece is the oldest and she’s nerdy too, man. YEAH, I’M SELLING AYEBODY OUT. I DON’T EVEN CARE, YO. Kece’s favorite X-Man is Hank McCoy. My brother Travis is the one that got me on the gateway to comic books too — Mom was sick one time and he had to go to school so he stuck a Spider-Man sticker on her wall and said, “Spider-Man will protect you till we get back.” That’s nerd as fuck, man.

Travis is the one that told me she used to read The Hobbit to us. Being a toddler at the time I had no idea about it and she never mentioned The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings ever. Moms was out here reading The Hobbit but I had no chill with comics? Really? That’s the most nerd shit, man. When you’re reading something and the words “roll 3 to continue” or “Middle Earth” appear in the texts, it’s pretty much a fact that you’re in peak nerd form right there. I see you, Isabelle. I seeeee youuuuu. Mom was even into wrestling, man. She used to watch it with grandma who was ‘BOUT THAT WWF life. I didn’t know my mom liked wrestling till she sat down and watched Monday Night Raw with me.

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Mom: Who is that?
Me: That’s The Rock
Mom: …
Me: DON’T LOOK AT THE ROCK LIKE THAT!

Arghhhhh, I wish I had realized all of these clues sooner. There were so many nerdy genres and fandoms my mom was into and I was too oblivious to put it all together until now. This is like a detective solving a cold case but I have to be the one satisfied with discovering the truth… and I’m not ’cause I’m petty, and I gotta have the last word, and I wanna tease my mom about all her nerdy traits I found out, and the ones that were right in front of me all along.

*sigh* But life isn’t fair.

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  • Omar Holmon is a content editor that is here to make .gifs, obscure references, and find the correlation between everything Black and Nerdy.

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  • Owen

    I am a third generation nerd. I got my loves of comics, science fiction (especially Star Trek), fantasy (especially mythology), animation/anime, & astronomy from my Mom. She got her love of most of those things from her mom. Because of them, this article resonates as a feedback loop of pure awesome.

    Here’s to our moms!

  • Vincent Hopwood

    One of my mom’s favorite stories was watching the original “Star Trek”, back when it was on network television, while feeding me when I was a baby. She died five years ago way too young. This article could have been written about me.

    Thanks for putting this out there, man. There have always been more of us that people let on. And the nerdiness of our parents SHOULD be celebrated.

  • Al

    I love this article. Y’all site is delight ever day for me.

  • Anique Coney-Toussaint

    Great article. I really enjoyed it. Hope my son thinks about me this way.

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