By Amanda Steele
This panel started off as a way for Black nerds to know that they belong in nerd spaces and connect with other people. This is the third year in a row this panel has been held at NYCC, and it will be held again next year. There was a huge crowd in line for this small room, and lots of people were excited for the panel. It’s no surprised considering that there was quite an impressive line-up, ranging from actors to comic book creators that included Che Grayson, David Walker, Kwanza Osajyefo, TJ Sterling, Nyambi Nyambi, and Regine Sawyer.
Che Grayson is a comics writer and filmmaker who has worked on DC’s Secrets of Sinister House, David Walker is the co-writer of Bitter Root. Kwanza Osajyefo is the creator of the comic book, Black, Regine Sawyer is the owner and creator of Lock It Down Productions and Women in Comics Collective International, TJ Sterling is the president of Ray Comics and Nyambi Nymabi is an actor who has appeared on The Good Fight and Mike and Molly.
One of the first questions posed to the panel asked what it was like to grow up going to nerd events like cons and often be the only Black person in the room.
Overall, the panelists felt like they had worked hard to get to the places in their careers they’re at now and want to help other people join them in the room, too. They talked about this idea of being the first, or patient zero, of being a Black nerd.
Kwanza Osajyefo said that being the only person in the room “inspired me to leave the room and make my own thing.” While others mentioned the idea of dragging other people in with them and being the point of contact to get more Black creators and nerds in places where their talents could be seen.
TJ Sterling added to this idea saying that while growing up his mom would take him to many comic book shops and that “there were certain spaces where we were looked at funny for even being in the room, but we were going to push through regardless.”
The panelists also discussed the importance of fighting back against impostor syndrome for blerds and afro punks. They wanted people to remember the fact that they deserve to be in the room, and they have a place and a community there.
This was another topic that was discussed at length: the idea of community. It was noted that even in the past 20 years or so that there are more communities for Black people and people of color in nerd spaces. Despite that, it can still be difficult, which is why it’s important to build a support system.
Overall, the panelists were very focused on this positive idea of uplifting other Black nerds and creators so that these spaces can continue to be more inclusive and welcome. They talked about how the stereotypes of what Black people like and don’t like have been broken down in many ways and how blerds have made their own spaces.