I got a link on io9 about my post on afro futurism. I’d have responded there, but I can’t comment or whatever, so I’ll just do it here. Hope those guys come through and find this!
Also, the OP says the essay refers to “alternate personas of the Wu-Tang Clan” when it only refers to one alternate persona of one member, the RZA, or Bobby Digital, who is an unusual guy even within his group. Just because he’s black doesn’t mean he’s not a NERD. If one displays nerdy tendencies, does the nerd identity supercede the racial identity? I think so. It’s obviously not a true dichotomy, but while it’s somewhat tenuous to identify certain behaviors as ‘racial,’ it seems universally easy to identify certain behaviors as ‘nerdy.’ Nerdiness, to me, is color-blind.
One more point I’d like to make, black Americans don’t “not have a past” just because their histories are soiled with the slave trade. They have a very distinct past, and an incredibly strong source of identity (adversity). They’re not building anything out of nothing, they’re building everything out of a ton.
I only mentioned one member, which is a fair point, but I could’ve easily mentioned Ghostface, who flips from Tony Starks to Pretty Tony and back again with regularity. One’s a flamboyant superstar, the other a drug dealing psychopath. Method Man’s Johnny Blaze isn’t an accident, and ODB made a career out of flipping pseudonyms and gimmicks, though to be fair, all those gimmicks at least partially involved being high on PCP. RZA isn’t all that unusual in the Wu, I think. Even Inspectah Deck plays around with being more than he is at times.
Kanye’s Glow in the Dark tour is him speaking with aliens who believe he’s the greatest rapper alive. Pharrell/Chad/Shay’s N.E.R.D. stands for No one Ever Really Dies and pushes nerd chic, as well as being on top and better than everyone else. Black Star’s sophomore album was supposed to be called Blackstar Galactica. Cannibal Ox’s Cold Vein advanced the idea of poor blacks being pigeons, with phoenixes being the end result of life as a pigeon.
Yes, black people can be nerds. Only an idiot would deny that. However, in the context of what I’m talking about and the past seventy or so years of black history, it is fair to suggest that since these traits line up with the greater context, that they are representative of something more.
In a very real way, blacks don’t have a past, particularly in comparison to America at large. A lot of people can trace their pasts back to Sweden, or Britain, or the Lakota nation, or X province in China, or whatever. For most blacks, that isn’t an option. We can’t trace our lineage back X generations, or show off our family crest, or whatever.
No one really wants to say “I dunno,” when someone asks “Where’s your people from?” you know?
Obviously, there are exceptions. There’s that gene tracing thing that’ll give you a general area of where you’re from, but for the average man? Not an option. It’s a recent development, anyway.
I kind of feel that my point still stands.
Thanks to everybody who has read and linked it around. Tell your friends!