On Assuming Race and Being Biracial

After reading Desiree Rodriguez’s essay about Latinx representation and how we assume one’s race based on looks, I was inspired to write my own essay on the assumption of one’s race and biracial representation, while sharing some of my experiences as a black biracial woman.

Before we go any further, I’m African-American, Greek, French, and Scottish. However, I identify as being Black-Greek, black biracial, or half black/half white. I know this is a question I’m going to get, so I had to address it as soon as possible before diving even deeper into these subjects. Please remember that not everyone who is biracial and or a POC have had the same experiences as me; however, I’m simply adding my experiences to the conversation to hopefully give a new perspective.

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Here And Now (The 100th Post)

Ladies and gentlemen, this is my 100th post here at the Nerds of Color.

To say I’ve been ecstatic about hitting this milestone would be a vast understatement, as my colleagues will tell you.

So for this special edition post, I wanted to do something special. I’m going to answer some FAQs, share some memories and some behind the scenes shenanigans.

But before I do anything else, I want to take this opportunity to thank the person who all of this possible, Fearless Leader. Though he’s known to some of you as Keith Chow. None of us would be here if it wasn’t for him. He works tirelessly to make the NoC the special place it is. More than that he’s been an amazing leader, friend, mentor and brother and I will forever be grateful for him taking a chance on me and giving me this opportunity.

Also mad love to the rest of the NOC team that welcomed me and made me feel like I joined a family.

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Putting Faith to Purpose: An Origin Story

A great visionary by the name of Cindi Mayweather once said, “Embrace what makes you unique, even if it makes others uncomfortable. I didn’t have to become perfect because I’ve learned throughout my journey that perfection is the enemy of greatness.”

My name is Dennis R. Upkins. I’m a speculative fiction author who writes urban fantasy, YA, and superhero fantasy. Storytelling has always been my calling, but sometimes fate has to put you on the path. The key is to be astute when the signs present themselves.

It was two years ago and I had a homecoming of sorts as I was back in Atlanta for Gaylaxicon/Outlantacon. The con was a smashing success but that was to be expected. What wasn’t expected however was the revelation I would receive repeatedly throughout the weekend.

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I’ll Be That: The Ill Science of Everything

According to Webster, a latter definition suggests that a nerd is: “unstylish, introverted, and devoted towards academic pursuits.”

There is nothing unstylish about my nature, but for the purposes of this site, I’ll define the term as a person who has an affinity for certain forms of entertainment. For the purposes of this site, I’ll be that. A cinema nerd. A rap music nerd. A nerd divulging mythology through fiction, poetry, or graffiti walls.

Comic books were taboo in my parents’ Christian household; my collection was always stifled and intermittent. My stash was hidden in the clandestine manner young boys hid Playboy magazines; under mattresses, behind dresser drawers — ultimately found and discarded.

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Origins: Anime is Life

I am one of those nerds that came out later in life. Growing up, I was not hip to nerd culture, but I thought the things I was into at the time were the norm. Being an anime fan growing up in the Bronx, I was somewhat of an outlier. This made me feel like I belonged to an exclusive group of individuals. I was the only one I knew at my school, and the only one on my block, that was into Japanese animation. However, that exclusivity didn’t last long. I had to share anime with all of my friends, and soon everyone else got hooked as well.

My first introduction to anime was Akira. But my reaction to it might not be what you’d expect.

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NOC Origin: If I Had a Horcrux, it’d Probably be My Terminator Boxset

So my version of a nerd is a person who passionately and purposefully seeks out the way- more-than-necessary knowledge about a strangely specific subject1. There are barely-there nerd memories of inventing my own Pokémon with their successive evolved forms, obviously, Toonami afternoons of Dragonball and Dragonball Z, explaining The Adventures of Lois and Clark to my grandmother, and losing my elementary-aged shit when Hercules and Xena had their first crossover.

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Forming the Pilot Episode: The Origins of a TV Nerd

What kind of nerd am I? A black girl nerd. A TV nerd. A Harry Potter nerd. A watch-all-three-Lord-of-the-Rings-Extended-Editions-in-one-weekend nerd. A nerd who is still discovering new, awesome nerd things every day.

But let’s talk about being a TV nerd, since I’m going to probably do most of my writing in the TV section of this website. I guess I became a TV nerd when I was about nine and I had to miss an episode of Sailor Moon after school. I cried. I thought about how I might never get to see that episode (this was pre-DVR, of course and I didn’t know I wouldn’t be home, so VHS recording the episode was out) and I’d miss that time with Serena and Darien and the girls (it was the American dub, it has a special place in my heart even though I should know better).

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Conception: Origins of a Nerd of Color

The gun fired and we were off to the races. I was one of the first to dive in the water without a moment’s hesitation; it was as if Denzel trained me himself. It was the early-mid 80s so “Eye of the Tiger” was quite possibly in rotation on the radio as I stroked ahead of the pack, feeling fresh and new, keeping my eyes on the arrows directing our path.

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Who is Arthur Chu?

Originally posted at The Huffington Post

When I first “went viral,” I was as skeptical about “why this Arthur Chu guy is even a thing” as much as anyone else, believe me. The weirdest thing about this year was seeing an explosion of media discussion of some random guy and not being able to blog about how weird and misplaced it was because for the first time I was that guy.

And the weirdest thing about that is seeing other people doing the obnoxious thing I used to do, blogging about complete strangers confidently making assessments about what they’re “about” based on the tiny slice of their life that made them YouTube famous.

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Ballad of an AfroGeek

The above image is from the cover of my upcoming book: Diary of an AfroGeek.

Being an AfroGeek is all about being comfortable, and expecting, to hold immense contradictions. It is loving Firefly, Serenity, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but having a strong feeling that Joss Whedon doesn’t love you back. It is about getting into passionate discussions about why and how Storm’s original mohawk incarnation was one of the more powerful political statements in comics, but being appalled at how uninteresting she became when she married Black Panther.

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