In response to the staggering election results in which many members of marginalized communities experienced how disconnected they were from their fellow citizens and the country elected bigotry and hatred; Black Nerd Problems put out the call to hear how people were coping. Here is a collection of short essays on what we’re doing, just to get by.
My Grandfather, William Ford, was the first Black nerd I ever met. Some of my earliest memories are spending hours in his den, watching all of the old Godzilla movies, the ones made before that Matthew Broderick bullshit. He was a big fan of Sci-Fi and Westerns (I sometimes think he would have really loved Cowboy Bebop). When I was 5 years old, he bought me the complete VHS box set of the Star Wars original trilogy and told me to watch out for R2-D2, “the baddest little robot in the galaxy.” And don’t get me started on his love of the Incredible Hulk. He was the first person that taught me it was okay to be Black and love nerdy shit. But more important than that, he taught me that it was okay to be different, to care about different things, and that being Black didn’t mean being having to fit a certain mold. I took these lessons to heart.
Now, my Grandfather died in 2013, so I don’t know exactly what he would have had to say about our current president-elect, Donald Trump (although if I had to guess, it would be something like “That rotten muthafucka can kiss my Black ass!”). But in the days after the election, as I struggled to find anyway to process what the hell America just had done, I found myself repeatedly coming back to what he told me during the height of my grade school bullying: “You know exactly what you’re worth so don’t let these White people get to you”. See, I grew up in a predominantly White neighborhood in suburban Oklahoma so I was every version of the weird kid growing up. But as I got older, I learned to I wear both my blackness and nerd status as a badge of pride. It was in these things that I found strength and joy. And it was all thanks to my Grandfather.
Going forward over the next four is gonna be rough. White folks went and put Orange Lantern Lex Luthor in the Oval Office and lord knows how we’ll be paying for that decision. But as we see racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and every ugly version of hatred rear its head, I hope you can find as much strength in my Grandfather’s words as I do. So as I make my way through my sixth Mass Effect 2 playthrough as the suave and fierce Beyoncé Shepard, let just say this one more time for anyone feeling lost or uncertain about the state of our country: “You know exactly what you’re worth so don’t let these White people get to you”.