The future is looking bright for nerds of color who continue to think, create, and design. Let’s reflect on that. As I mentioned in my article The Life Of A Blerd, being a nerd of color comes with social hardships. This isn’t just from outside of our community, this resonates within our community as well. More nerds of color are embracing their love for anime, superheroes, and video games. I remember when I tore down for liking these forms of fandom, specifically anime. I was told that liking certain fandoms was being “white” or liking “white people stuff”. I was called an oreo and an insult in the book make me feel ashamed. Even though these comments were ignorant and illogical, it stung me to be told that my skin tone was disregarded because of something that I enjoyed.
Anime is apart of my many escapes from reality. Our reality at the moment is a blur of Minecraft pixels. During the pandemic, we’ve witnessed the harsh reality of police brutality, followed by a massive movement to fight for social equality. This has driven an outpour of companies to verbally show their support of the African American community on social media and Television programs. What does this have to do with nerd culture? A lot. These realms are being mixed, which is making it hard for others to enjoy the fandoms. There is now a rise of rage for not including many black characters in anime or refusing to watch a certain anime because there aren’t any black characters.
If you choose not to watch a certain show because it isn’t suiting your entertainment needs, that is your choice. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and preference, but we shouldn’t push this narrative that these fandoms have to include us in everything. Representation does matter. Seeing someone on Tv that looks like me does make me proud, but no one owes that to me. We already live in a world where racism will always exist, bringing this into a fandom will no longer make it an escape.
I’ve sat in on a conversation about someone not liking Sailor Moon because there isn’t a black sailor guardian. My opinion on this was that there isn’t a black pretty guardian because the creator didn’t want there to be one. The show was made by the creator’s vision and perspective of what each guardian should look like. Even though the pretty guardians are Japanese, I still loved the show. It was one of the first animes I watched when I fell in love with anime. My other thought was the expectancy of a Japanese woman to portray an African American in Japan. Let’s say that the creator did create an African American sailor guardian and this sailor has the wrong hair type or a stereotype of America’s perceptions of a black woman. It would be controversial just like the black characters in DBZ.
My point is as a nerd of color, we deal with enough issues regarding race, in reality, let’s not tie this into fandoms because it won’t be enjoyable anymore. We should call animators and creators out when they’re portraying incorrect perceptions, but not expect them to include us in shows, movies, etc. Fans get angry about the lack of diversity in anime without acknowledging that people outside of our culture couldn’t project the way we would want to be presented in animation. This would require research, educating themselves on features, hair, and experimenting with personalties.
If you see a lack of diversity, it’s clear that the animator or anime creator isn’t willing to invest time into such research or they would create a character based on personal traits and the character just so happens to be black. Black History has been created by African Americans who didn’t wait for an opportunity. They didn’t wait for others to include them. Let’s not point fingers at companies and entertainment industries for not including us. I’ve learned from my personal experiences of trying to fit in that I don’t need a seat at the popular table, I can make my own. There are many African American animators and creators who’re working hard to give us the representation we wish to see.
There could be millions of more that we aren’t aware of because they don’t have the funding, someone won’t hire them, or they’re finding their way to live up to their fullest potential. A great animator could be the homeless man/woman you pass daily and won’t spare a dime because you’re worried about what they will do with it. If you want to be real, whoever isn’t satisfied with the amount of representation in anime, go to school and become an animator. We should honor those in the nerd community who are setting those tables and disregard this anger to those who don’t offer us a seat. After all, we never needed permission to make history.