Black Nerd Problems: Essays

Gallery. Sept. 2021. 304p. Tr $27. ISBN 9781982150235.
Identifying as a nerd doesn’t necessarily make life easy. And being a Black nerd is its own nuanced experience that Evans and Holmon know well. They’ve been writing about Black Nerd Problems since 2013 on their website of the same name, which has spawned this eponymous collection of 46 essays. The short pieces (most are six to nine pages each) cover myriad aspects of pop culture: comic books, television dramas like The Wire and Breaking Bad, Disney movies, Hamilton, gaming, and more. The writing is alternately hilarious, thought-provoking, and passionate, sometimes all within the same essay. The authors’ knowledge of all things nerdy is encyclopedic yet the depth at which they connect their subject matter to real-life issues is what makes the book stand out. Police reform, universal basic income, the white gaze, and social justice are all mentioned alongside heroes and villains. All the essays center Black nerd identity, but readers’ nerd knowledge doesn’t have to be exhaustive for this book to resonate. The writing is conversational and invites spirited agreement or antagonism from its audience. Although the essays contain strong language, don’t let it deter this purchase for older high schoolers. For students of color who love to debate the merits of DC versus Marvel, or even just nerd out to Disney’s The Lion King, this book will be their mirror. And with so many essays, there’s something for all nerds, regardless of the depth of their fandom.
VERDICT Hilarious and thought-provoking essays that read like talking to a friend. Recommended for purchase.

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