The first time I was ever called a nerd I was 10. I mean, made fun of because I was smart. I had no idea being smart was a thing not to be!
I was reading by 4. Wrote my first story by 8. There were more books in my house than TV’s. I loved libraries and learning and carried a book with me from the time I was 8. Plus, A Different World and the Cosby Show were the most popular shows on television!
So, how was being smart–bad!
I mean, I didn’t dress like all the other girls. I was tall. I was awkward. And I finally learned to jump Double Dutch at the back end of fifth grade! I didn’t know how to play any clapping games! I didn’t care about learning to do hair. It wasn’t a top priority. But I knew I wanted to go to Italy, knew I wanted to be a writer, had a powerful knowledge of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Greek mythology. I watched Full House more than Family Matters.
And I had a ‘White girl name?’ I was an awkward Black girl.
And even with the brevity that was twenty years ago, I have to look at the community available to my daughter. There are groups like the Extraordinary Journey of The Black Nerd (Thanks, Facebook!); Black Girl Nerds; Nerdette Podcast; The Well Read Black Girl; Black Twitter; The Ideal Firestarter.
There was no space for me…then.
What I love now is that it would appear all those kids who were like me, regardless of color, have made spaces for those in our same plight. The joy of this internet is, has been, being able to find your tribe! Being able to find people that love what you love, laugh at what you laugh at and be comfortable.
I am all for nerds taking over the world! Why? Well, why not, dude! We are a familiar with diverse topics. For the most part, we get along with one another. Why? Diversity always inspires inclusion. We know dialects, accents and languages. We know that the world is bigger than our own block.
I am loving the spaces that nerds are building! I love the diversity we build! I love the fact I can open my phone, or any app on my phone and find my people! Twenty some years ago, this was not so. There were no book clubs or any other clubs for girls like me. This is perhaps why I dove into writing and reading as I did. If I couldn’t find my community, I would either read about them or make them up.
Nerds are resourceful! We would make the perfect secret agents! There are some of us that speak language as ancient as Lakota, Zuni or Cheyenne and Arabic. There are some whom of us who are fluent in Klingon and Elfin! Nerds need to continue to take over the world because we are based in logic and fact. We like books, math and sometimes, fancy explanations.
We can calculate the distance to the moon, the perfect horsepower and the exact tensile strength of Spider-Man’s webbing! Nerds are The Avengers! We should be addressed as such! As you all know, I’m still a Mary Jane.
When I think about it, I had no choice to be a nerd. My aunts read like mad. My mother loves music. My cousin Jason introduced me to the power of pen and paper–and the comic books. The biggest nerd was my Dad, Richard.
My father did calculus to relax. He made sure my sister and I could read before we started school. He encouraged us to ask questions. He loved Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Star Trek Deep Space Nine with Captain Benjamin Sisco. and loved science fiction. He quoted Star Wars! He loved Jules Verne! Growing up in this cradle of creativity is there any wonder I was called a nerd at 10?
What hurt my feels then–this word that was made to make me feel like I outsider–is a blip in my memories now. It allows me to embrace the parts of me that a majority of people may not understand–but a portion of chosen people on a post or group may. And often do.
Dan Savage said that after high school is it’s freaks, nerds, geeks and sluts that run the world. The best part? He ain’t wrong.