Gone are the days when geeks kept their freak flags folded neatly and tucked inside of their latest issue of Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes. There is no longer shame in being an adult who watches anime, reads Southside Nefertiti, or plays Call of Duty until numb in the thumbs.
Even with Donald Glover starring in Community weekly, Cornel West in frequent political debates and Mos Def dropping knowledge on the daily, the term “geek” still conjures up images of Steve Urkel in his Sally Jesse Raphael glasses or Carlton on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Black geeks in the media are nothing new, though. KRS-One, Poor Righteous Teachers, and even Kwame outed himself as a comic book geek in 1989 with “rhymes like the thunder bolts of the Mighty Thor.”
The geek chic stylings of a skateboard toting Pharrell Williams, Chris Brown’s skinny jeans, nor Kanye’s oversized glasses seem to have helped Black geek guys realize that they can attract black women. The question is, “Do they even want to?”
Without delving too deeply into Jim Crow Laws, forbidden fruit, the media’s perception of beauty and the “pure white woman” ideology, which are all difficult to negate in interracial relationships in general, some Black geeks, particularly those with a geeky profession believe non-black women are more “supportive” of their nerd tendencies.
Joseph* a technology and video game journalist from Brooklyn writes, “Yes, I have dated outside of my race. White, Hispanic, Asian.” Joseph is not alone. Fifteen of the twenty men interviewed for this article were married to non-black women and eighteen had routinely dated outside of their race. Joseph is single and claims to “maintain a sense of self in all situations.” He is currently dating a Serbian, an African, and an African-American. He says he has definitely experienced a lack of tolerance from Black women with regards to his geekdom. “You have to remember, non-geek girls didn’t appreciate geeks until recently…There were no “I Love Geek Boys” shirts when I was a kid! But, as comics, gaming, sci-fi, and fantasy went mainstream, their eyes were opened to hobbies we already dug.”
Tim*, an illustrator in the Atlanta Area, says, “I needed someone who would stay out of my way and not require much of my time, so I married a Japanese woman. I crank out several pages per day some days, and I couldn’t find a sista who would deal with my lack of availability. Our marriage just works.” He went on to state that he needed a relationship that required less work, because he places his career first.
Ironically, the majority of the men interviewed currently fight for racial equality in their respective fields (film, comics, etc.). Only one of them shows any pictures of his white wife on the web.
John*, a fantasy/sci-fi writer in San Francisco, wrote:
“My problems with the comics industry, and entertainment in general, are focused around Blackness because that impacts my career and forward motion, but what we go through is even worse for Asian Americans and, bizarrely, gay people (considering how many gay people are in the industry in positions of power). What I really am about is a flat playing field for everybody.
To me that’s what the struggle was always about; not asserting Black dominance but simply forcing the nation to live up to the sign over the door. I don’t want anything extra. I want a fair shot. A flat field means I win, because all I have to worry about is being good. Which I am.”
John’s wife is Irish-American and she is “SO not a geek.” John also asserted that his wife is “in no way passive” and that she was just there for him during some really tough times. He argues that, “The question isn’t ‘Why are so many geeks with people of other ethnicities than their own? (because all those ladies are also bucking their cultural systems too), but how [do two geeks of color] find each other in that crazy rainbow when there are so few of us present?’”
Is there really a deficit of Black geek women? Moreover, if most of the current non-black wives are also non-geeks what difference does that make? Why not find a non-geek Black wife? Well, two out of the twenty interviewees did. Their wives are displayed proudly on their Facebook pages. Brandon,* who works in entertainment law, has also dated outside of his ethnicity. Though he found most of the Black girls he dated couldn’t cope with his comics culture, he was happy when he met his Black wife. Theo,* an avid comics reader and sci-fi flick viewer, has never dated outside of his ethnicity. He has also never had an issue with any of the Black women he dated dismissing his dorky side. He says that he “felt that it accentuated [his] appeal.”
None of the wives were interviewed, but this quote from Susan Crain Bakos at the New York Press was rather enlightening:
“We look at one another and exchange a visible frisson of sexual energy in the lingering glances. And our attraction is based first on race. We are not those couples who “happen to fall in love” with someone of a different race or more purposefully come together but out of some greater sense of interracial understanding and respect. Not as politically-correct men and women do we seek one another out. The Internet has made it a lot easier for us to find each other now. Men advertise: ebony seeks ivory. Women write: seeking tall, dark, and handsome. Very dark. We are not the same people who say: Race is not important. It is important to us. We have race-specific desires.”
Also, this movie adds some comic relief to the subject.
*Pseudonyms have been used for all interviewees.