Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Brown Nerds of the World Unite, Take Back the Night!

Nerds are a unique breed. We are the masters of minutia. We love to examine the details of things, even imaginary things. That's just what we do. Are we a cultural phenomenon? Sure. Are we always white? What, are you nuts! Well, according to The New York Times we are. They actually called us "hyperwhite"!

From an article in The New York Times Magazine by Benjamin Nugent:
"Who’s a Nerd, Anyway?" —

In a 2001 paper, “The Whiteness of Nerds: Superstandard English and Racial Markedness,” and other works, including a book in progress, Bucholtz notes that the “hegemonic” “cool white” kids use a limited amount of African-American vernacular English; they may say “blood” in lieu of “friend,” or drop the “g” in “playing.” But the nerds she has interviewed, mostly white kids, punctiliously adhere to Standard English.
While a stereotypical black youth, from the zoot-suit era through the bling years, wears flashy clothes, chosen for their aesthetic value, nerdy clothing is purely practical: pocket protectors, belt sheaths for gadgets, short shorts for excessive heat, etc.

It's really very sad that the Times Magazine editors let a story through that was racist by any description. The author of the article and the person who he quotes from, Mary Bucholtz, lack so much understanding for people proposing to be experts on nerd culture. The article is just silly. Nerds are not the pocket protector boys of the 50's. My God, where have they been? I've been a nerd all my life: I've got a Batman Comic subscription, I code for fun, have an Engineering degree, and wear glasses. I am all these things and, yes, I am black.

Every Brown Nerd that read this silly article is m-a-a-a-d. We are loading up the Millennium Falcon and are readying for the attack. And man, you bes' be skarred when we get riled up! A really harshly worded letter to the editor is being prepared right now!

Actually, all kidding aside, the members of Carl Brandon Society and Think Galactic are really upset with this article and are planning to say something. It's plain racist to think that a black person is excluded from any subculture. There are Afro Geeks, Afro Punks, Black Goths and yes, Brown Nerds. The Times letting an article like this go to print demonstrates the amateurish skills of a once great paper. I expect this kind of article from my college newspaper not from the New York Times.

We're here! We're square! Get used to it!


Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Heh, not just brown nerds-- I'm as disgustingly pale as you can get (not by choice-- I burn in a matter of minutes) and about half of my geek group are non-white. I was quite upset to read this kind of stupidity.

For the love of all that's holy, does this woman think that ASIANS are never geeks? Has she not seen a single movie made after the 80s? Hello, Geordi and Urkle(sp?) are both icons of classic nerd culture-- or are they not allowed to be nerds because they're not white? (Someone please tell me what Urkle is, if not a nerd.)

Good grief, my uncle is a Celt geek, and they've got black guys in the Highland Celtic Association. (At least one of them looks very, very good in a kilt, too!)

jenn said...

Thank you, thank you! I've been looking around on the blogisphere on this issue and finding that most "white nerds" get it and are pissed off, too -- maybe it's because we're smart and don't believe in this kind of crap!

jenn said...

BTW, I don't think that we need to look like Steve Urkle to be considered a nerd. That was a horrible stereotype -- though I do appreciate a brown person being depicted as smart for a change.

My role model was Uhura from the original Star Trek. When I was a little girl and I saw the episode where she was fixing a circuit from beneath her control panel and Spock had to defer to her expertise, I WAS HOOKED! I wanted to be just like her! A fine Nubian woman smart enough to let Spock depend on her knowledge. Now, that's what I'm taking 'bout!

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