They’re that eyeglass wearing black family in that cellphone commercial. They’re all over Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

They’re watching Cosmos with @neiltyson

And now, they’re reaching YA Lit.


Black + Nerd = Blerd

The numbers of urban lit books for teens has been decreasing for quite some time and nothing had really become the new niche for black authors. With very few romance, adventure, dystopian, science fiction or mystery books written that featured black protagonists, one had to wonder what publishers would establish as the next genre where we would find black characters.

This month, HMH Books for Young Readers give us Eddie Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile written by debut author Marcia Wells and illustrated by Marcos Calo. In May, Varian Johnson’s Great Green Heist (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic) hits the shelves. I believe both books are part of a series.

The timing is great for each of these as MG fiction is becoming the hottest thing since sliced bread and Blerds are in!!

image001 I think the glasses were the first sign that Blerds were trending.

I’ve stumbled across some on Twitter.

@BlackGirlsCode Our mission is to empower young women of color ages 7-17 to embrace the current tech marketplace as builders + creators. 

@BlackGirlNerds An online community devoted to promoting nerdiness among women of color. Live tweeter. Ranter. Raver. Geeker Outer. Tweets by (Shorty Award nominee)

@BlackGeeksMeet A place where Geeks of Color can Meet, Talk and get excited over their passions. Not exclusive, just empowering and energizing.

@blkintechnology Blacks In Technology is the premier online community for Black techies. Membership is free. Visit us. Bringing Unity to the Black IT Community Cincinnati, Ohio ·

@TheNerdsofColor Pop culture with a different perspective. Watch us at:

No, they’re not only Black.

@GirlsinCapes On identity in geek culture. Tweets by @FelizaCasano.

@LatinasinSTEM Org established and run by #Latina #MIT alumnae. Our mission is to inspire and empower Latinas to pursue, thrive and advance in #STEM

@Latinitas Empowering Latina youth through media & technology, 1st digital mag by & for Latina youth. Now accepting Summer internship applications!·

Melo Funkademic1 @melofunkademic1 STEM Ambassador for The People. Tumblr:

And, they morph into futurism and fantasy.

@iafrofuturism Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci Fi & Fantasy Culture (Lawrence Hill Books) by @ytashawomack  The Future of Now ·

@scifilatino Commenting on Latinos and Latinas in science fiction and fantasy. Includes TV, movies, books, and other media.The ‘Verse ·

Asian girls fight this stereotype and aren’t as likely to embrace nerd power. While I’ve found several black and Asian males who tweet about technology and STEM, I’ve not found a consolidated effort tweeting for male nerds of color.

So, why am I giving all the attention to these nerds? I do so for three reasons. First, I think they’re part of a growing trend that tells our children that it’s OK to be smart, it’s preferable to be intelligent and information in necessary for success. I see this as a direct consequence of having a black president.

Second, I hope this trend continues to influence publishing. Not only should it lead to a wider variety of books, but it should get decisions makers to make that tiny leap to realize that Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans do read (and write!!) books.

And finally, it’s also important for librarians to be aware of nerds of color. It would be wonderful if we could attract them to our profession because their knowledge and skills are germane to librarianship of the future. 21st century librarianship is all about collaboration, data management and scholarly communication. These new activities transcend all areas of librarianship in different forms.

As these new groups begin to develop and strategize, they benefit from our ability to network with them as they seek new collaborators and ways to organize information and data. Working with them grows our field and provides many mutual benefits. I’ve reached out to do some networking and found myself in the middle of a tweetup on coding. As participants shared their needs and frustrations, I saw ways librarians could easily address these concerns while participants could go on explore the world of coding. Other librarians would find ways to develop their coding skills.

We can also work in our public, school and academic librarians to provide space and leadership for those groups who need to know it’s OK to be a nerd.

Students of Middle Eastern decent.

American Indians.

Even Asian girls and boys need to know it’s OK if the want to be a nerd.

Black and Latino males. Let’s overcome the lies told about black boys. (Read this informative article to find out how the numbers of black males in college and prison are misrepresented and how sports do not build habits of mind necessary for success in our young men.)

It can start with book groups that provide safe places for students to talk about their love of reading or technology clubs that developing information literacy skills, but it needs to expand to uncover and nurture these students desire to go to college, invent new technologies, lead countries or vacation on the moon. Move them forward with metaliteracies. Librarians touch the future. (BTW, National Library Week begins today!)

Have you read any books featuring nerds of color?

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