The Hidden Level Known As Black Nerd Twitter

Outside a comedy club I was standing with a bunch of the comedians after the show — all people of color — and we somehow got onto the topic of Black Twitter. Danish asked, “What’s the deal with Black Twitter, man? I feel like it’s some secret Black Ops organization. Everyone comes forth and then disappears instantly.” And so I told him: “I honestly can’t tell you, but it’s basically the bat signal for Black people. Someone says something problematic, something traumatic happens, or we start a joke and people just mount up. Whatever it is, the job isn’t done until there’s white tears, folks getting woke, or a plethora of humor letting us know we gon’ be alright.” We continued:

[quote_simple]Danish: …There’s something you’re not telling me, man. This seems like Illuminati clearance level criteria.

Me: *laughing* I — what? Secret level clearance? Retina scans? Huh? Who said anything about a rotating code every 4.5 hours? ….I’ve said too much. [/quote_simple]

No one knows or can control when Black Twitter will appear, but if we’re talking rare Pokémon cards then there’s a subculture with Black Twitter even fewer are aware of, and that’s Black Nerd Twitter.

“Black Nerd Twitter?! Explain!!”

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This is straight up interwebs archaeologist shit, man. Black Twitter can get things trending by flipping news or embracing nostalgia. Black Nerd Twitter, on the other hand, appears only every so often, and even then it’s only now and then that it allows itself to be blessed among the normals. I’ve only seen about 3-4 cases of Black Nerd Twitter myself. Like Loch Ness for Blerds, there have been thousands of more sightings, of course, but allow me to give you one I’ve documented thus far: #BlackGuyNerdDatingTips. This one was a particularly interesting case as we saw the hashtag spread within the Black Nerd community.

But there came a time to pick a side because that same night #ObamaMixtapeCovers was trending. Now if this isn’t some indubitable shit, boi! Here we see an internal struggle on which topic to side with. We have to choose which jokes to throw out into the universe! No one can do both — not very well, at least. Or could you? This was a gift from the interweb gods and yet a curse as well… the curse of missing out on golden joke opportunities. Those dedicated to both causes showcased their code-switching skills.

The most recent appearance of Black Nerd Twitter came about last night with the hashtag #IfHogwartsWasAnHBCU, but to appreciate this topic we have to look across the stateside. The lovely thing about a joke is anyone can tell it, but the hard thing is tracing back who told it first. There are always variations — there are no new jokes, just new ways of telling them. Now trying to find the origin of a hashtag? Well that’s what we are kind of going to attempt here by at least tracing the event. To truly appreciate the #IfHogwartsWasAnHBCU tag you gotta go back a week to when, out of the clear blue yonder of nowhere, #IfNigeriansWentToHogwarts was trending.

The tears of joy that filled my fucking eyes as Black Nerd Twitter went to another level. Credit to the tag was given to author Wale Lawal and the rest is just nerd international gold. This is the kind of UN Summit I’m trying to be at, man.

Bruh, *hits [insert new popular dance craze here]* Listen, I’m really big on humor. Laughter is a universal language, and no matter what dialect you speak everyone across all cultures understands it. That’s what we are seeing here. Of course there are some tweets so heavily in Nigerian culture that we may not fully understand the innuendo or pun at a deeper level, but what we are able to take at face value we can appreciate, and most importantly, laugh. Also, we’re laughing while deconstructing stereotypes, or any notion that pop culture isn’t something that can span across other countries and nations (*stay woke moment*). Now come stateside and we have #IfHogwartsWasAnHBCU, which originally happened back in 2011, but got a hashtag revamp/reboot/Spider-Man-treatment back into Black Twitter after #NigeriansAtHogWarts and the #JamaicansAtHogwarts that sprung up as well. I think it’s safe to say that #NigeriansAtHogwarts raised a stateside twitter trend out of limbo, which is amazing in itself when you think of the life span of a hashtag. If it’s lucky enough to last past a few hours or an entire day, that’s usually it. It becomes untethered from all retweet desires and enters the void. You can call it happenstance, but black folk tend not to forget things considered dead or old news.

I wish I was able to find who started the Hogwarts HBCU tag, but to be honest, the beauty of both Black Twitter and Black Nerd Twitter isn’t really making the joke to trend for the credit, but about making the joke so it’s out there for others recognizing the hilarity and can run with it as well. That isn’t to say credit for jokes isn’t important — I hope those in the know always give credit, as was the case on multiple occasions in the past. I’m being very lenient on crediting hashtag jokes as opposed to things like #BlackLivesMatter and other activism where credit is highly important for its movement. It’s quite a different story standing for something that challenges the structure of systemic racism, and whose opposition wishes it could be reduced to a hashtag with a short, typical life span. Now when will Black Nerd Twitter decide to show itself? That’s anyone’s guess, but it should be understood that much like Black Twitter, Black Nerd Twitter doesn’t appear when you want it… it appears when you need it. Or when a new trailer for some anticipated geeky movie is about to drop, or a great comic book or novel is coming out. Whichever happens first. Oh and you know we had to get in on that fun when that hashtag’s atmosphere be so Black.

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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.

  • Show Comments

  • HowardGirlNerd

    Lol it was me. I saw the #NigeriansAtHogwarts tag and started the first few tweets of the #IfHogwartsWasAnHBCU revival and my lovely followers and fellow hbcu students jumped in. I thought about sending my twitter name when you said you wondered who started the tag, but as you said, maybe the credit doesn’t matter. I’m just glad that it made so many people smile. And that bc of it I happened across this site.

  • Pikazon

    I absolutely love how Black Nerd Twitter has created a vibrant community where black nerds can come together, share their interests, and feel seen and heard. The memes, discussions, and overall sense of camaraderie make this hidden level of Twitter a true gem. Thank you for shining a light on this amazing community! – Pikazon

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