The Coolest Black Nerds You Know

Blerd History Month: Barack Obama leads the pack in the last installment of our series.

President Obama with Nichelle Nichols from Star Trek (Nichelle Nichols/Twitter)
President Obama with Nichelle Nichols from Star Trek (Nichelle Nichols/Twitter)

(The Root) — As Black History Month comes to a close, so, too, does our series on the history of the blerd. It’s been a wild, informative ride, no? From Crispus Attucks to Jack Johnson to Public Enemy, blerds are everywhere. They have been forever, and you didn’t even know it. 

Today’s blerds are loud and proud in an unprecedented way. It’s very likely that at least one of your favorite black celebs is a blerd, or at least a little blerdish. Rosario Dawson has long been the darling of black nerds, because what nerd could resist a hot girl with a penchant for making comic book flicks and her own sci-fi Web series? The same goes for Rashida Jones, who, in addition to taking on quirky comedies like The Office and Parks and Recreation, is a comic book writer, for goodness’ sake.

Then there’s Aisha Tyler, who has “been a gamer since before you could read” and has even provided voice work for Halo: Reach. Her podcast, Girl on Guy, is a fun, often not-safe-for-work jaunt through the mind of the “ultimate guy’s girl,” making frequent stops at things like zombies, ninjas and rock music. 

Perhaps the most visible, widely known blerd of all in this day and age is our very own president and leader of the free world, Barack Obama. Wired magazine called our attention to the president’s nerdiness, publishing a list of five things that make him a geek. And it doesn’t get any blerdier than your president proudly throwing up the Vulcan salute with Nichelle Nichols, known for her role as Uhura on Star Trek.

And blerds are funny! Scratch that — blerds are hilarious. From Donald Faison and Donald Glover (whose push to become the first black Spider-Man is nearly the pinnacle of blerd-dom) to the comics of The Awkward Comedy Show, blerds are definitely making their presence in today’s society known. And this is important because the young blerds of the world will definitely need someone to look up to.

Speaking of the blerd youth, let’s reflect for a moment on the awesomeness of two in particular. First, there’s beautiful, brown 7-year-old Zora Ball, who became the world’s youngest game programmer when she created a full version of a mobile game. Then there’s Leonard Cooper, the young black man with an absolutely amazing Afro who wowed the nation with his win on Teen Jeopardy!

This is what is next for blerds: Thanks to their ancestors, the message that being black and nerdy isn’t just OK but is really freaking awesome is reaching younger ears every day. With kids like Zora and Leonard on the come-up, and with the online boom of websites like Popblerd, Blackgirlnerdy and Blerdology giving blerds a platform and a space to be their beautiful, blerdy selves, it’s only a matter of time before blerds are as commonplace as Neil deGrasse Tyson at an agnostic-astrophysicist symposium.

Blerds are the future. Teach them well, and let them lead the way.

Tracy Clayton is a writer, humorist and blogger from Louisville, Ky.