We first met in elementary school. I was always curious what you were talking about, laughing raucously with the older kids. You must have seen my interest when we made eye contact across the room because you smiled and waved a hand for me to come over. A polite invitation must not have been enough, so I felt nervous as you got up and walked across the cafeteria to ask if I watched Tommy become the White Ranger. Who hadn’t, I wondered.
We were steady for years until I started to figure out romantic relationships. It was hard to juggle you and them, and they didn’t understand you that well, but those are just excuses. I fell off before Wanda said “No more mutants” and to this day I try to make up the time we lost. Our relationship has been a Deborah Cox song; not “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here,” but the duet with R.L. people forget existed. I’m an adult now, and I know the secret you never tried to keep: Nerds are the most awesome people you can keep in your life. And Blerds? If you recognized R.L. from Next and were flooded with nostalgia, and you remember the exact moment Tommy pulled out his dagger in the white costume, you understand how special we are in our tiny sliver of the Venn diagram.
Blerds have the best community on the Internet, hands down. You are to online communities what The Wire is to television: Something so amazing that you feel woefully ineffective to explain it. I haven’t dabbled in all online communities to compare – I missed the new parent community, the vegan community, the country music community, among others – but I am confident in saying geeky people of color are the most fun, supportive and socially conscious group I could ever have the pleasure of knowing. You bond over memories of Gargoyles, debate fan casting of Saga, and band together against the onslaught of aggressions constantly hurled against you. You face a constant barrage of racism, sexism and trolls, yet when the Titans attack you mount up a coalition who swarm Facebook threads and Twitter feeds and you take back Wall Maria.
I have always been years behind social media, and was especially hesitant to join anything like Twitter or Tumblr. I kept to my quiet world of Facebook in the comfort of 200 carefully selected friends. It wasn’t until 2014 that I reconnected with Whitney Syphax Walker, watched the launch of Black Nerd Problems, followed other sites in the blerdsphere, and was led to a Whole New World on an African-print magic flying carpet.
Read more from Jordan Calhoun at Blacknerdproblems.com