by Gwynneth Shipley
Just one week after geeks and nerds from all over the world descended on San Diego for Comic Con, the Brooklyn neighborhood of Dumbo will become the home of a different kind of nerd convention. Blerd City Con, the brainchild of New York City educator and self-professed "blerd", Clairesa Clay, is in its inaugural year and boasts a two-day lineup of screenings, panels and workshops aimed at "celebrating the fantastic nerd in you".
A "blerd", for those less informed, is a person of color who is also a nerd -- someone who values intelligence and might also be really into comic books and Miyazaki films, among other things. It's a quality that has long been ridiculed in the black community, but has recently become celebrated in pop culture thanks to entertainers like Donald Glover, Keegan Michael Key, and Jordan Peele.
Clairesa says she came across the term while researching futuristic films for a stand-alone program, and thought, "Well...this is every aspect of me!" Clairesa wanted to create a safe space to "celebrate the intelligence and artistry of African people," that in many ways goes overlooked and underappreciated.
An avid fan of martial arts films ("I even have a sword!"), she says she always valued education and knew she was a little different. Clairesa says others were often surprised at her knowledge of all things nerd, causing her to realize she "stored information in a different way" (*cough* *ravenclaw* *cough*). With Blerd City, Clairesa hopes to fight the negative stereotypes and connotations that go along with being a blerd, helping people embrace their smarts and unique interests.
In terms of genres, Blerd City is all inclusive, with topics and activities ranging from science fiction, horror and fantasy screenings to kung fu and social justice panels. Creatively Speaking will be screening three amazing short films, alongside screenings from collectives ImageNation, Black TV and Film Collective, and ImgeMaker. There will be panels on topics including Women in Comics, Kpop and Blackness, and Anime and Manga, as well as coding and cosplay workshops. There will even be a Children's Science and Technology area and and a Blerd City cosplay ball on Saturday night.
There are still single day and full weekend passes available on the Blerd City official website through EventBrite, as well as a full list of event times and locations. Attendance is expected to reach 300 with plenty of potential to grow. We hope to see you there so, together, we can celebrate the fantastic nerd in all of us!