Memoirs of an Atypical Blerd

B8FSS6-IQAAsCBEA few years ago someone told me I was a Blerd. I had no idea what they were talking about. But (as I was then told) I’m black, I like SFF, and I talk about it a whole lot. So that makes me a Blerd. Okay. Fine. Whatevs. I didn’t really expect the term to catch on. I mean c’mon. Black + Nerd? Shows how much I know. Today Blerds are everywhere. There are Blerd sites, Blerd podcasts, Blerd blogs, Blerd meetups–you name it. Blerd has become a community. Blerd can maybe even be called a movement. Blerds are also remarkably diverse. And it turns out using one story to define them, may limit the full breadth of who or what they (we) can be.

Art: Phil Noto, Variant cover, Captain America

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On Malcolm, Martin and that X-Men Analogy Thing

malcolmmagnetoOn the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the activist, orator and the man once referred to in eulogy by the late Ossie Davis as “Our Shining Black Prince,” El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (most commonly known as Malcolm X), I quite foolishly decide to wade into that whole X-Men analogy thingy. Of course I’ve been warned. Of course I know better. But since when has that stopped me? So then, let’s do this thing.

And that supremely bad ass Malcolm & Magneto mash-up art you’re seeing, is courtesy of the amazing John Jennings and his 2012-2013 exhibit Black Kirby. If yuh dunno, now yuh know.

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Tips for Understanding Black History Month- 2015 Edition

blackhistorymonthIt’s that time of year again, Black History Month. Beginning every February in the United States, the country sets aside 28 (or 29 in a leap year) days to celebrate, discuss and engage Black History. Innocuous enough. And yet what seems to happen every Feb. 1st, is the beginning of a 28-days long ritual of whining (how come they get their own month?), misconceptions and endless micro-aggressive racial faux-pas. And this isn’t just from the usual sky boxes of white privilege; there are black people (some of them noteworthy) who wade into…well…the stupid. So here are a few tips to better understand the month, both for those who have to endure the stupid and for those who might be enticed to engage in the stupid.

This is just an updated list from an identical post I did last year. But guess what? It never gets old because the stupid never changes.

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“A Space Knight Like Rom:” Hip Hop and Science Fiction Fantasy

bishop-doomUnlikely Mix: Rappers, Dragons and Fantasy. So read an article this past March in the Wall Street Journal. The story was on a new campaign strategy by HBO to reach out to a more “urban” demographic, by putting out a Hip Hop and reggaeton album craftily named “Catch the Throne” (see what they did there?). I like Hip Hop. I like dragons and fantasy. But something about this entire affair and the way it was promoted had me feeling “some kinda way.” Cue the Rains of Castamere.

*parts of this write-up were recycled from an earlier posted 2012 blog. opening art: emcees MF Doom and Bishop Nehru

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Searching for Lando

Lando-FlamewindCoverChatter in the geek-o-sphere for the past few months says that nearly every major character in the Star Wars universe is going to return to the new JJ Abrams flicks, starting with Episode VII. Mark Hamill is to reprise his role as an older Luke Skywalker, Harrison Ford is coming back as a grizzled Han Solo and Carrie Fisher will be a more mature Princess Leia. Even the Wookie and the droids gonna be in it. Yet the one character that doesn’t seem to be making it back is the one with the baddest name–Lando Calrissian. So far, despite fan requests, it doesn’t seem that actor Billy Dee Williams has been invited to reprise his role as the daring rogue. But how can this be, when Lando Calrissian saved my young geek life?

Art from book cover of Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon, by L. Neil Smith

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Radical Dirigibles- Black Socialists, Anarchists, Reformers and Airships

black CPUSA“Socialism is the preparation for that higher Anarchism; painfully, laboriously we mean to destroy false ideas of property and self, eliminate unjust laws and poisonous and hateful suggestions and prejudices.”–H.G. Wells

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Men in Black: A Lynching in Steampunk

Steampunk_Pocketwatch_by_purpleglovezMen in Black, my contribution to the recently published STEAMFUNK Anthology, explores the darker side of the Victorian and Progressive Era, a minor Steampunk tale (no airships, corsets or zombies) about a lynching, the arrival of a mysterious stranger, his fantastic machines and the fate of a small town called Blackwood.

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