Should Blerds Have to Justify Their Lifestyle to Fit in With Pop Culture?

Another day, another time that I’ve had to justify why I like certain things, why I read certain books and why I talk or act in a certain way. So I was hanging out with a new crowd of folks I recently met, and we start talking about music and pop culture.

Everyone around me is discussing the latest hip-hop jam, what happened on the last episode of one of those housewife reality shows, or what ignorant a**hole we’re all mad at today on Twitter. Ordinarily, I would feign interest and even add an “I know, right?!” every now and then. But this time I literally had NO idea what everyone was talking about, so I just sorta smiled and nodded as they chatted.

Then all of a sudden, one of my new friends asked my opinion about a particular recording artist and of course I said, “oh, I’m actually not familiar with him” (honestly, I was dying to talk about Alabama Shakes, but I didn’t bother to bring them up). The group kind of paused for a sec, then my friend said “oh I forgot, you have a Black alternative experience that’s so different from the rest of us.” I’m sure she didn’t mean to come across as condescending as she did, so I didn’t really react to it, but this is the type of comment that generally gets an eye roll from me.

First of all, continuing to view other Black folks as different or weird is precisely the type of mindset that divides us and doesn’t honor our various quirks. And second of all, in this age of the nerd, is it really even accurate to consider us “alternative?” Despite our growing presence in pop culture and on sites like Black Girl Nerds, people still see us as an “other”?

Hello, people. It’s time we embrace the fact that the nerd is omnipresent and is not just a fad. We’re not radical and, frankly, there’s nothing new about Black girl nerds. We’ve been here for years, despite the fact that we are finally getting recognized. And we’re not going anywhere.

Source: Candice at Black Girl Nerds

How the Gaming Community Can Provide an Outlet to an ‘Outsider’

Here’s the truth: I’m scared. This fear is borne from a lack of cultural and individual identity, a haze of uncertainty within which my poetry is immersed. I often concede this fear to that of a common human need; that is, to belong. I was born in Georgetown, Guyana, and raised in Plaisance, Guyana, right in front of the Atlantic Ocean until the age of 9. I then moved to East Orange, New Jersey, of the United States. Guyana, for most who aren’t aware, is just about 50 percent Black and 50 percent Indian. I fell somewhere in between as a small percentage of the Indian population include a mix of Portuguese blood. This mix obviously left me with a bit of a culturally ambiguous look on my face at most parties. East Orange was a tremendous culture shock for me; my introduction to the United States was in an Abbott school district that was predominantly Black and below the poverty line. All this is to say, I’ve had to learn things on the fly about cultures that I borrowed from throughout my life and retained little to none of what cultural identity I can call my own. Enter gaming.

One of the major keystones in my life is being introduced to the modern computer (I use this term loosely) when I arrived in the United States. While I gamed at the arcade in Guyana wasting untold amounts of money playing Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Battletoads, I was christened as a gamer when I donned that Windows 3.11 PC that my uncle gave to me and my brother. This, however, was just the building block to an addiction that would wholly evolve throughout my formative years. Being a migrant with migrant parents, I obviously was not allowed to leave the house in this “strange land” that was my hood, so I ultimately withdrew into Destruction Derby and learning how to emulate GameBoy titles on my computer so that I could play Pokemon (both Red and Blue titles) on my computer while all of my friends traded Pokemon via their handhelds by day and I watched from the shadows with great envy.

What many would consider a secluded, sheltered and possibly unhealthy upbringing in gaming, I saw as both liberating and safe. Safe, in that I could ask the questions and work toward the answers for myself for the first time under the guise of gaming’s myopic lens.

Read more from Ian Khadan at

A Black Nerd’s Interactions at Comic Con

Oct. 31 was a Friday, and despite the fact there was already plenty of reason to celebrate because it was Halloween and the end of my workweek, it was also the opening day of Ohio’s Comic Con as a part of the Wizard Con circuit. I clocked out of work, threw on some jeans and my Attack on Titan Survey Corps shirt and headed straight for the convention, since there were precious hours left for the day.

Once I made it down there, grabbed my press pass (weoutchea) and made it to the floor, it was as I expected: steeped in glorious geekery. As Leslie had written about so eloquently before, not everyone can make it to New York or San Diego for the mother and father of all Cons in North America, and the smaller ones definitely have value. As this was my first year attending, I was just trying to make the rounds and soak in as much as I could without committing to anything or really planning on writing about it (you see how that worked out).

At some point, between my buying an original sketch of Master Chief and taking a picture of a homie in an awesome Deathstroke cosplay (Arkham: Origins edition), a guy came up to me pointing emphatically. “Awesome shirt, man!” I thanked him, but it is, in fact, an awesome shirt, so I get that a lot. “Check this out.” He put a long box on the table in front of us and pulled out a replica Survey Corps blade. While not sharpened steel, it was solid metal and polished, a nice collectible whether you intended to hang it on the wall or wander into the woods beyond Columbus and hunt titans. I nerded out with my new-found friend and enthusiast for a moment before making my way to the very display he had made the purchase from.

The table was glorious, just about every bladed weapon from nerd lore were on the tables, all handled with care, all available for a price. There was Jon Snow’s “Longclaw,” Cloud Strife’s sword “Buster,” Nariko’s “Heavenly Sword” and many, many more. I picked up “Buster” and marveled at its weight. This thing was awesome. I had no idea where I would put it, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t contemplate dropping some credits on it. I mean, come on: FINAL FANTASY VII MEMORABILIA!

Read more from William Evans at

Astrology or Science? Calculate your Geek Zodiac

Navigating this complex world has never been more difficult. And as we yearn for our destiny, our purpose and, perhaps most importantly, our sense of self, the Geek Zodiac is here to help. The Geek Zodiac transforms astrology with a novel spin on an old science. Based on the ancient Chinese system, the GZ replaces the 12 animals with the most iconic archetypes in popular culture and creates a gorgeous and meaningful array of superheroes that we can all relate and aspire to. Each week, the GZ delivers a fortune cookie to your email box with humor, advice and some geeky insight. Having difficulty relating to others? Perhaps you are an Alien. Do you frequently find yourself saving the world? It’s rough being a Superhero. Are you one of those people who believes in a code of honor? Perhaps the code of the Samurai may be what you were looking for.

The Geek Zodiac was created by James Wright and Josh Eckert, a writer and artist respectively, who brainstormed their desire to see the famous Bill and Ted return from their most excellent adventure through time and form the Avengers with heroes from the past. With that initial concept, the two formed the Geek Zodiac astrological wheel and filled it with their greatest heroes, thereby forming a scientific link between pop culture, the earthly elements and true Geekdom.

In 2012, they launched their website and began crafting a storyline to bring their characters to life. “Geek Zodiac: Infinity Core” is their first comic book, with subsequent issues in the works. And after so many requests from their fans, the duo finally published the “Geek Zodiac Compendium,” showing the GZ history, evolution and background, now available on Amazon.

So what’s next? According to Wright, he’s just happy that so many find the weekly horoscopes helpful! “The response from our fans has been amazing,” he noted. “We hope to continue delivering our geeky words of wisdom as we continue developing the GZ story.”

Interested Geeks can find out their signs and register for their free weekly horoscope at:

Source: Jamie Broadnax at

African-American Women Paving The Way In Engineering Fields

Not only are African-Americans in engineering notably under-represented, but their graduation rates have in fact gone down in recent years. Rates for African-American women in engineering, though, present some intriguing questions. Could it be that, relative to other demographic groups of women, they are overachieving in engineering?

Looking at women by race and ethnicity, African-Americans are the most likely to get an engineering degree. And white women are the least likely. Earning 26.8% of all African-American engineering bachelor’s degrees in 2012, African-American women exceed the rate of women in all other demographics in their share of degrees, as broken out by sex.

    1. African-American, 26.8%
    2. Asian or Pacific Islander, 23.0%
    3. Hispanic, 22.5%
    4. American Indian, 22.3%
    5. White, 17.4%

Degree Ratios, Women:Men

Percentages, of course, can indicate many things. For example, these graduation rates also point up how many more African-American women than men attend college. Indeed, another list that African-American women top is the ratio of women getting undergraduate degrees to men getting them.

  1. African-American, 1.92:1 (113,601/59,267)
  2. American Indian, 1.57:1 (6,561/4,182)
  3. Hispanic, 1.56:1 (107,568/69,131)
  4. White, 1.28:1 (635,766/496,923)
  5. Asian or Pacific Islander, 1.19:1 (64,348/53,913)

In other words, African-American women earn about two of every three African-American undergraduate degrees, about 65%. White women earn about 11 of every 20 white degrees, or 56%. Because there are so many more of them to start with, relative to men, African-American women would be expected to get a higher portion of all degrees within their cohort than women in demographics more evenly divided by sex.

How Things Might Look with Full Representation

The question, then, is, how much higher a portion would they be expected to get? (Note: Please excuse the math to follow, but, hey, this is engineering we’re talking about—math is part of the deal.) Using the first set of percentages in combination with the ratios of women to men can help us understand what African-American and white women’s engineering degree rates would be if they earned degrees in engineering at the same rate as they do overall.

Suppose “full” representation in engineering meant African-American women earned 65% of engineering degrees, just as they do overall. Their real 26.8% share, then, is 41% of their theoretical, “full” share (26.8/65).
For white women, 56% of engineering degrees would be “full” representation. Their real 17.4% share is 31% of their “full” share (17.4/56).

To be sure, none of this is cause for celebration. Women remain, on all fronts, significantly under-represented in engineering. But seen from this angle, at least, African-American women seem to be completing engineering degrees at a higher rate than white women. (As it happens, only Asian or Pacific Islander women exceed African-American women’s 41%, with 23.0% registering as 42.6% of their full representation rate of 54% of all degrees.)

Read More from Eric Iverson at

Many Fans Missing Out on Amazing ‘Storm’ Comic

When the “Storm” comic first launched, I was super-geeked along with many other comic book fans that Ororo Munroe was finally getting her own solid series. I rarely write reviews because I spent years doing so when I wrote a film blog, and countless other websites do the same thing, so I usually step outside of reviewing books, films, TV shows, etc. However, when I noticed that sales were down for “Storm” and that there was a #SaveStorm campaign on Twitter, I was concerned. I was sad when I heard news that the female-empowered comic “She-Hulk” was canceled. Storm fans asked for her own comic and Marvel listened, and I am still curious to know what is it about this AMAZING comic that has not yet stuck with fans?

I want to just take a moment to bask in the awesomeness that is Storm. I’ve been reading several comics right now “Thor,” “Death of Wolverine,” “Black Panther,” and some old-school “Excalibur.” However, nothing gets my goosebumps and the hairs on the back of my neck standing still like Greg Pak’s “Storm.” If you haven’t started on the comic, then it’s absolutely fine because that just means you have the opportunity to catch up on the first five issues!

It’s obvious from Storm’s inception until today that she has had massive appeal to all people. It’s not just Black women who are fans, but men and women of all different backgrounds and nationalities love and adore her. However, when you are a Black female who has to deal with a greater deal of adversity than a man or a white woman, I love turning to comics to see a woman with brown skin like me kicking ass and taking names!

Read more from Jamie Broadnax:

The Reality: Fantasy Fiction Novels with People of Color Are Difficult to Find in the Local Library

In fourth grade, I was introduced to fantasy fiction through “The Harry Potter” series. I became a fan of the series when the fourth book was the latest book released. There was something irresistible about Harry’s world that I couldn’t explain. When I read the first three books, everything I read vividly appeared in my mind in bright colors. Once things got darker with the fourth books, the colors shone like stars in new characters and gave me hope for those I already knew.

I loved how Harry’s world painted my imagination with its characters and creatures. As I waited for the newest book in the series to be released, I decided to maintain that feeling by reading other fantasy series such as “Percy Jackson and The Olympians” and certain “Dragonlance” trilogies. Together with the “Harry Potter” series, these books painted my imagination into a lovely kaleidoscope and also sparked an interest in mythology and folklore.

For a while, race wasn’t an issue for me when it came to characters. I related to things that went beyond skin color, like Hermione’s brain and her being put down because of it. In high school, I realized I couldn’t find any characters of color I could relate to in contemporary teen fiction. Due to the lack of diversity in diverse characters, I looked to white characters even more.

After Harry’s adventures ended in my junior year of high school, I found one or two other series that I enjoyed. Then, I started to get bored with fantasy fiction. I was tired of the same old strong female characters and books with vampires, fairies and demons. After a while, even fantasy series I loved to reread also became boring.

I wanted something new, but wasn’t sure what it was. Then last year, I watched the animated series “W.I.T.C.H.” on YouTube and found myself relating to Taranee Cook, a Black female main character who could control fire. That’s when I realized that I wanted to read fantasy fiction with people of color.

On Goodreads, I requested fantasy fiction books written by African-American authors and ended up reading “Sister Mine” by Nalo Hopkinson. While it took me a few chapters to get into the book, I found myself experiencing the same thrill I got from reading the “Harry Potter” books. However, the lack of fantasy fiction by Black authors at my local libraries and my picky reading taste prevented me from finding more books.

Read More from Latonya Pennington:

Love Supernatural Stories? ‘Daughter of Gods and Shadows’ is for You

Eden Moore is the protagonist in the first series of the trilogy (“Daughter of Gods and Shadows”) written by J.D. Mason as Jayde Brooks. Eden is a lost soul looking for her purpose in life, a shy and awkward 24-year-old individual who discovers that her destiny has been set in motion thousands of years before her existence in another realm.

I felt like I was reading a collection of miniseries biographies, as the first half of the book gave me a history lesson on Eden, the gods, demons, their powers and their purpose. A much-needed necessity as the second part of the trilogy will be titled “City of Dark Creatures.”

The book reads like Season 6 of HBO True Blood and I say that because literally anything can happen. Set in modern times, but entwined with unpredictable supernatural concurrency. It tends to flip back and forth, from reality to fantasy, then all mixed in at times.

“Eden would finally finish what the redeemer had been called to do, and Eden would succeed where Mkombozi had failed. She had no choice.”

A romantic at heart, I truly enjoyed the love story between Eden and her Guardian from the time he came into her life and the effect he had on it.

The second book should be more engaging and easy to follow for the readers, now that the first book has explained the characters and their intent. Note to audience: You should pay attention to details and be good at taking notes.

Source: Christina Angela Jeter at

Lack of Minorities at Tech Conferences Spurs Action

I love tech conferences. The knowledge to be gained from attending talks, the schwag you receive from technology vendors trying to push their latest and greatest product, the incredible networking with other professionals in the tech space, and, most importantly, the exposure to the newest and latest trends in tech makes attending technology conferences well worth my while. I’ve attended conferences about Linux, FOSS, Nagios, Information Security, virtualization and quite a few others during my career in the technology field.

What I don’t love about most tech conferences is the lack of minority representation on both the attendee and speaker side. It still alarms me that I have “virtually” met tons of people of color that work in the tech field but still fail to see these numbers translate into tech conference attendance/speakers.

I think this post deserves a bit more of a set up so maybe you’ll begin to understand it more. I began attending technology conferences early in my career. Ohio Linux Fest was my first one. I went because that’s where the “geeks” were going to be and I wanted to soak up as much knowledge as possible. The experience of being around other Linux geeks was amazing. The camaraderie, the networking, the knowledge-sharing was something that really stuck with me. The absence of people of color at these conferences all stuck with me and was my main reason for starting BIT.

Read more from Greg Greenlee at

Is It Important for Women of Color to See Ourselves on the TV Screen? Absolutely!

As a Black woman who consumes a substantial amount of television, it is invaluable to see images of women and people of color on the small screen.

My flat screen invites my favorite fandoms into my living room and provides an experience that I hope can be both entertaining and fulfilling. However, when it comes to diversity, I have noticed that slowly women and people of color are taking on protagonist roles that we haven’t quite seen before. As a TV viewer, I wouldn’t exactly say that my diversity appetite is fully satiated. In fact, I still hunger for more women who look like me on television. But there are shows that are slowly coming into the fold that are creating characters who look like the people I see walking around my neighborhood every day. Characters who look like people I see at a shopping mall, waiting for my flight at the airport, or riding a NYC subway train.

Racial diversity on television within the last several years has been sparse or relatively nonexistent, depending on which network you elect to watch. Seeing more white faces than faces of color is sadly becoming the status quo. In fact it seems since the ‘80s and 90’s TV shows are actually getting whiter. The monolith of whiteness is both discouraging and dismissive to many non-white fans who want to see images of characters who look like them.

Read more from Jamie Broadnax: