Black Nerdom is on the rise. Shows like Netflix’s Astronomy Club have proven that there is a demand for it. And in the 21st century, there’s a long list of artists and creators whose contributions serve to dispel the old stereotypes.
When people think about a trendsetter (defined as “one who starts a trend”), their thoughts are usually associated with a certain stereotype that almost never includes Black Nerds.
However,, Black Nerdom is on the rise. Shows like Netflix’s Astronomy Club have proven that there is a demand for it. And in the 21st century, there’s a long list of artists and creators whose contributions serve to dispel the old stereotypes.
That stereotype has been challenged in the battle over misplaced perceptions that is currently being won by Black Nerds.
Black Nerds like Donald Glover, Issa Rae and Jordan Peele (that’s right, we’re claiming them!) have made some of the most significant advancements in pop culture and — in the same vein — history.
Glover’s breakout role in Community started him down a path that led to international stardom, establishing his personal brand as a man of class and dignity in Gucci loafers and cool jackets while casually channeling a groovy 70s era Black James Dean vibe. But he didn’t start there. He started his journey making YouTube videos with the sketch comedy group, Derrick Comedy. Those videos eventually led to his role as co-writer and co-star as “Master of Disguise” Jason Rogers in 2009’s indie film, Mystery Team. While the film may have showcased Glover’s immense talents, the role itself was far far away from the intergalactic “coolest guy in the galaxy” that would eventually be Glover’s take on Star Wars: A Solo Story’s young Lando Calirrisan.
Much like Glover, the Pam Grier-esque Issae Rae is an excellent example of someone who comes from nerdy and awkward beginnings. Literally! Her breakout claim to fame is her online web series, Awkward Black Girl. Rae successfully parlayed the online video shorts about awkward girl Blackness into celebrity, creating an international sensation that is featured in magazines around the world while disturbing the status quo in Hollywood.
The 41-year old Peele’s achievements are vast and diverse and include film credits as director, co-writer, producer and/or star (with Key in Keanu (2016); Spike Lee’s BlackkKlanman (2018), which he produced, receiving a Best Picture nomination from the Academy Awards; TBS’ The Last O.G.; YouTube Platinum’s Weird City (2019); and CBS All Access’ revival of the The Twilight Zone.
While Peele has deservedly received numerous awards and recognition for his contributions, perhaps the most significant is his Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his 2017 directorial debut, the horror film Get Out. Peeele also received nominations for Best Picture and Best Director for the film.
In 2019, Peele wrote, produced and directed Us. He is also producing Amazon Prime TV’s Hunters, a series set in 1977 about a group of Nazi hunters who discover that a group of Nazi war criminals are conspiring to create a Fourth Reich in America.
Shows like Blackish and Mixedish also include references to Black Nerdom. This is especially apparent in Blackish’s annual Halloween episodes, where the entire family takes the liberties bestowed by the October holiday to get their Super Geek on. However, even the non-holiday episodes feature a certain level of geekdom and references that would make the developers of Black Trivial Pursuit proud. You can tell that the series’ writers and other creatives working behind the scenes are geeking out at the opportunity to include the show’s many meta-references.
Set design and production values transform Sherman’s Showcase’s the skits and ideas (which come from some truly geeked-out minds in the show’s writer’s room) into undeniable visual and audio spectacles.