Similar to how knowing about Tony Hawk doesn’t make you a part of skateboard culture, liking Dragon Ball Z does not make you a nerd.
Before we get started, let’s get something out of the way: nerding should be for everyone. I am a firm believer in that and nothing would make me happier than to see Black and Brown people nerding out on comic books and anime everywhere I go.
Though, I’ll have to admit; nothing makes me more disappointed than meeting a person that claims to be a kindred spirit and prepping myself for a conversation full of Shonen adventure, only to realize that they can only talk about Goku and going Super Saiyan. Some of us Black nerds will go back to our Facebook groups or private Twitter feeds and complain, but not enough people are saying how annoying it is to their faces. Well, I’ll be the one to say it: it’s annoying as hell.
Let me explain why this is annoying, without taking an “othered” or “special snowflake” stance on the matter. If you are a Black person and the only anime that you have watched is Dragon Ball Z and you are just out here living your best life, that’s fine. No one is mad at you.
It’s not until said person decides to jump on social media and tries to justify their unknowledgeable yet ALWAYS strong opinions about the blerd (Black nerd) community by ending their argument with “I grew up watching DBZ too” that we get mad. In the words of the great M’Baku, WE WILL NOT HAVE IT.
For some reason, there is a group of Black people online that get so butthurt whenever other Black people decide to distinguish themselves as nerds or geeks because they think that we are trying to separate ourselves from “the rest” of the Black community. It ain’t even that deep, fam. Loving yourself for being Black and liking anime are not mutually exclusive. We love being Black, we just like nerdy shit…hints why we call ourselves nerds.
Let’s make this a little bit more relatable. Anyone out here a fan of Shondaland? So you know how excited you get when a new episode of Scandal is about to come on? You pour your glass of red wine, channel your inner Oliva Pope and either call your best friend, your auntie or your homegirl from work to see if anyone is talking about the juicy details of what happened on tonight’s episode.
Well, imagine if you had no one to share that feeling with and no one to talk about it. Would you be resentful? Nah. You’d probably just say something like, “dang, I sure wish that my friends watched Scandal so that we can talk about this crazy cliffhanger they left for next week. Oh well, they are missing out.”
This. This is how Black nerds feel and how some have felt for decades now when it comes to some of our favorite things.
Do you feel more special because you watch Scandal and your friends don’t? I doubt it. The same feeling applies when it comes to Black people watching anime, Marvel movies or whatever else we are nerding out about. Sure, there are a few people out there who think they are different and special because they watch anime, but they need to cut that shit out. We don’t claim them either.
The point is, media keeps trying to make being “Black and nerdy” a trend, therefore more people are trying to use the fact that they watched DBZ as an adolescent as their claim to “Black nerdom”. I’m just here to warn you. Don’t run up in the Facebook threads talking about some Goku stuff that happened back in 1998, when you could be talking about Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (old but classic) My Hero Academia, The Ancient Magus’ Bride, Black Clover, Tokyo Ghoul or even Aggretsuko.