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Dear Black Nerdy Alternative Teens

Dear Black Nerdy Alternative Teens

Written by: Chloe Hill

Dear Black Nerdy Alternative Teens,

Shout how awesome you are from the rooftops. Dye your hair green, wear unicorn colored braids, play Magic along the hallways of your school, play YuGiOh in the cafeteria. Listen to J-Rock, House, Metal, K-Pop, and country. Become STEM majors, paint your nails black, study Korean, wear Lolita and Visual Kei, start anime clubs. Most importantly never be ashamed.

I was you…so I understand.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it will be easy. Walking down school halls wearing all black with chains, in a school full of people who don’t dress like you, is hard. Choosing to go against the tide when everyone is swimming with it, is hard, but totally worth it. At the end of the day, the one thing I loved about high school was choosing me, over anything else. I could have tried to fit in, or even succeeded at wearing a mask day in and day out. But although I like acting, I don’t like doing it as a part of my life. You may have to consistently fight to be you, and yes it may be hard, and yes, you may have to fight every day, but there is only one alternative.

You could secretly watch anime, change your dialect, hide your love of bright colors or black, turn down your K-pop, or hide your love of Star Trek. People do it; I knew multiple people who liked anime in high school but hid it from the masses because their reputation was more important to them than their truth. You could do this until you forget who you are, but it will never be worth it.

You could pretend not to be smart; you could hide what you love. You could do all of this, and you know what, you still may not be excepted or maybe you will be, maybe people will love this mask you wear for them, but that isn’t the point. It´s how you feel about yourself when you´re home, and no one is there to judge you, how you feel, is all that really matters. Getting picked on for being yourself is hard, but so is pretending. And at the end of the day, I guarantee you; you will find others. We are all around you, the sheer amount of Facebook groups and sites should let you know you are NEVER alone. The older I get, the more people I know who don´t fit the mold that we´re all supposed to fit within. Sometimes it will be hard. It won’t just be at school; it will be people at home, your parents, siblings, uncles, and aunts who don´t get you. Give them time, eventually like so many others our families they´ll see. That this is you it´s not a phase, but who we are. Or maybe they’ll never get it, that happens too. The important thing is to build friendships with people who do.

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So my message to you is simple, catch every Pokemon or at the minimum, the original 151, watch all the dramas, win all the Magic tournaments, play LOL, study your heart out, paint your lips black, go to conventions, and cosplay the characters you love. Don´t let anyone deter you; You deserve nothing less than unlimited opportunities like every other kid. At the end of the day the only thing you are losing by pretending, is the one thing that you can never get back, time. Time in which you spend hiding is the time you could spend in defining yourself. And when, not if, when, someone comes up to you and tells you “how white you sound”, “how white you dress”, “how much of an Oreo you are” or the infamous “how you don´t act like a regular black person”. Understand what an insult that is to all of us, and just look at them. Look at them as if you don’t understand the box they are trying to fit you in as if they have said the dumbest thing ever because they have. Correct them, ask them what they mean, being black is one aspect of who you are, and anyone who wants to limit your journey to a monolithic experience that someone has decided is the standard of blackness, isn’t worth your time.

Make sure you tell them that because you are black every way you do something is the way black people do it.

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View Comments (5)
  • I had my nerdy, awkward, anime-drawing, alternative 11-year-old daughter read this aloud. As she read it, she kept stopping to exclaim, “Hey! That’s me!” She’s smart, funny (the pun queen), and so very awkward and I worry about her. She has friends, but I worry about others who don’t understand her uniqueness.

    I tell her every day to be who she is and never hide her light. I don’t mean to brag (lol), but this kid is going places. It’s nice to be able to point to something and say, “Told ya.” We appreciate you guys far more than you could ever know. Thanks for giving a voice to those who don’t quite fit in the box.

  • God where were you people in 1997 when I was in high school! Love what you’re doing! 🙂

  • As black people, our individuality is sometimes lost to (not respected by) those we encounter (blacks and non-blacks). In high school, there was an older black girl I admired who had blue/purple streaks in her hair. I never did get around to adding those colors to my hair no matter how much I wanted to. I used to dress a little like Avril Lavigne (ties and all), and took a lot of flack for it. Whenever I expressed my knowledge of something a black person wasn’t supposed to know, the black kids accused me of being whitewashed and the white kids wanted nothing to do with me (or they reminded me I was other–usually by asking questions like: how do you [someone like you] know that). Roll eyes. Both groups expected me to be a stereotype.Anyway, there’s a reason I think of myself as ‘girl outside the box’ –I never fitted in anywhere. I wish I had social media and organizations like Black Girls Nerd around then. It would make all the difference.

  • I wish this had been read during my preteen years. Granted, I am half black, but I’m also biracially black. And yes, I am an alternative black woman who loves everything that isn’t part of a black stereotype. Thank you so much for bringing this up. We all need some form of reassurance that people like us are not alone.

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