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'Carbonerdious' - New Documentary Seeks To Explore Rise In 'Black Nerd' Identity

by Tambay A. Obenson
May 28, 2013 2:06 PM
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The terms just isn't what it used to be - or doesn't mean what it was once collectively believed to mean. It's evolving. It's no longer *uncool* to be called a nerd. In fact, it's a label many wear very proudly, as it's redefined.

I recall seeing a sticker on a parked car here in NYC that read: "If being a nerd means that I'm not the dumbest muthaf*cker in the room, then I'll definitely be a nerd." Or something like that...

Other terms I've seen/heard include: "Nerd-chic" or "Nerd-cool"... and more.

Some have joked that President Barack Obama is the idol black nerds have longed for and needed, adding that he's the best thing for black nerds everywhere, as he's helped make it cool to be a nerd who happens to be black.

There have even been articles on the so-called new acceptance of black nerds, or "blerds" as I've heard some say, like THIS one from New York Magazine, titled Revenge Of The Black Nerd.

And so on, and so forth...

So I suppose it was only a matter of time before filmmakers hoped on and rode this wave of newfound black nerdom, we could call it.

Here's one, titled Carbonerdious, from director Tony G. Williams, which is described as follows:

CARBONERDIOUS is not only a film title, but also the definition of a newly emerging pop culture phenomenon in America… The culture of Black Nerds. This documentary film is for/about any one who has ever been called or considers themselves a: nerd, geek, spaz, dweeb, prep or hipster “and” also identifies as black. The film explores questions like: “When did it become cool to be a black nerd? What is the difference between a black nerd and the traditional stereotypes? And ultimately, what kind of world would we live in if being a black nerd ever became more popular than being a thug for young black males or vixen for young black females?”

The film is expected to debut later this year.

To stay updated on its progress, follow the project on Facebook HERE and Twitter HERE.

Here's a clip:

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  • D. | August 5, 2013 1:09 AMReply

    I can't wait for this to get released. Its films like this that will help bring out 'closet' BLERDs and BLEEKs and really help highlight this growing culture of what I consider black intellectuals and creative folks from all over.

  • Darryl Manuel | June 12, 2013 8:44 PMReply

    Tony has given a voice to the Black Nerds around the world!!!

  • Paris | June 8, 2013 10:22 PMReply

    Extremely talented, creative, and unique! : )

  • Deborah Easton | May 31, 2013 7:25 PMReply

    Tony Williams has always been a giant leap ahead of his time! This is just further proof
    of his mastery of riding the cutting edge of the unexplored and unexpected. I guess you can say, after watching this clip, I'm already pretty geeked about the entire CARBONERDIOUS film! Go Tony Go!

  • Jetta | May 31, 2013 3:20 PMReply

    Totally digging this! Blerd Power!!!

  • Dez | May 31, 2013 3:39 AMReply


    I Love it brother! Very creative! Thanks for bringing the underground to the forefront. Perfect timing. I know it will do well. You're a man after my own heart. Nerds 4 Life! Excelsior!

  • Sean Hicks | May 30, 2013 10:42 PMReply

    Great work Tony, Carbonerdious is on my 2013 list. Blerds Stand Up!

  • Lisa Williams | May 30, 2013 10:29 PMReply

    Awesome work Tony G. Williams! You have started a MOVEment! It's time to reMOVE the negative stereotypes and MOVE the cultural mindsets of others towards more positive portrayals of "black nerds".

  • Glenn Steward | May 30, 2013 2:56 PMReply

    Carbonerdious' is the new cool

  • N. Stevn Harris | May 30, 2013 11:55 AMReply

    Looking forward to this film coming out!! I wanted to more clips...!

  • N Steven Harris | May 30, 2013 11:56 AM

    Well that was embarrassing! I spelled my name wrong.

  • Donnell knox | May 30, 2013 10:20 AMReply

    Great project I went to High school with Tony G. Williams, he mind and his ideas are always on point!

  • Ed Clark | May 29, 2013 7:03 PMReply


    Love the film!!! Pure Genius!!!

  • MT | May 29, 2013 4:01 PMReply

    Giving a voice to this sub-culture is a move that has been long overdue. Kudos to the director and this film for shining a light on a group of people who are too often dismissed for not being conventionally "cool". Whether you agree with the film, the choice of clips used to promote it, or not, we should celebrate and support projects like this, not tear them down. Props to Tony Williams, hope your film is a success!

  • ken lashley | May 29, 2013 12:27 PMReply

    love it...its great to see more people of colour enjoying the medium l love...l just wish l was in this film....hahahahha....maybe for the sequel...

  • Thor | May 29, 2013 9:46 AMReply

    Haven't seen a doc about this before. Seems like the time is right.

  • Floyd Webb | May 29, 2013 7:38 AMReply

    Sorry for my iPhone typos y'all.

    That was s'posed to be "white boy stuff!"
    Tony Williams, you got a screening at Black World Cinema coming in Chicago!!

  • Floyd Webb | May 29, 2013 7:34 AMReply

    Black Nerd Redemption!!! Finally! Thanks Tony Williams you will get my 1960s Popular Science collection when I pass on. As a skate border in the projects in 1964, got beat up for launching a Estes rocket in the basketball court, had to fight over how many book I got from the mobile library and fought to get them home.

    Lupe Fiasco freed me with Kick Push, I was feelling that song and remembered being asked why i was always doing white biy shir, or who cared if the Beach Boys was using a Moog Synthizer of a or a theremin and you knew difference between the two. I wanna see this and wish I had been interviewed. :-)

  • Jeremy-1911 | May 29, 2013 1:13 AMReply

    I can't wait for this movie this is gonna be great and yes as Mr. Tony G Williams said it'll be awesome when being a nerd is more popular than Being a thug, keep up the good work Mr. Williams

  • Dano | May 29, 2013 12:59 AMReply

    Does this mean I can tell everyone about my MISB Transformers collection now?

  • Steve "Stone" Huff | May 28, 2013 11:04 PMReply

    Cutting edge content always from Tony Williams... CARBONERDIOUS!!! I have always been a NERD, or should I say... A DREN? Only for those who know, until now... Black Nerds get up! In 5 years this will be a crazy, global, relevant movement! Im down. Great work Tony G. Williams.

  • Raymond Lambert | May 28, 2013 10:35 PMReply

    Awesome project. Tony Williams is the real deal. Black Nerds Unite.

  • Regina Ann Campbell | May 28, 2013 9:09 PMReply

    I totally Love CARBONERDIOUS!!! It is a innovative cultural Phenomenon that captures us and those I know...It is okay to be a nerd as in an expert about and for things we Love!!! Intellectual capacity in a knowledge-based economy is Whats Up!!! This is right on time and on point...I am so looking forward to more!!! Great work Tony G. Williams!!!

  • Marian Hayes | May 28, 2013 6:54 PMReply

    I applaud Mr.William's timely venture into elevating a long ignored attribute among Americans. I use to work with the hippest, coolest and paid nerds in the world. They were employed by IBM, they were black, they were beautiful, they could maintain computer mainframes, dance down the soul train line, play ground and coach little league. The Rise is a welcomed relief. Rise on!

  • Marian Hayes | May 28, 2013 6:56 PM

    ...P.S. Thanks Tony for allowing your clip to run in the 1st Comic Book exhibit at Chicago State University.

  • Moni | May 28, 2013 3:48 PMReply

    The girl in the clip seems to be crossing the meanings of nerd and geek. Geeks are super passionate about certain things, practically obsessively so. Nerds, I would say, are smart, studious, and, perhaps a little geeky when it comes to academic pursuits. It will be interesting to see how this film describes nerds, geeks, dorks, etc...

  • No | May 28, 2013 2:36 PMReply

    This is one of the dumbest explanations I've ever heard for defining what a "nerd" or "black nerd" is. The woman used the term "passionate" in describing what being a "black nerd" is. There are a lot of passionate black basketball fans. Does that make them nerds? I don't think so. How about rappers or sports car enthusiasts?

    If that clip is an example of what "Carbornedious" is about, it failed spectacularly.

  • Gregg Calumet | May 28, 2013 8:59 PM

    No, I believe you miss the point. The film is bigger than defining what a 'nerd' is. This is just a trailer. Believe me, there is more in the overall content. The film explores the usage of the terms 'nerd' and 'geek' alike and what those terms mean through an "African American" lens. We have this certain image of what geeks/nerds should look like.Look at the shows "Big Bang Theory", the influx of cosplaying, gaming, etc. So many times our White brothers and sisters are the ones highlighted. If you are passionate about basketball one could argue you are a 'basketball geek'. Geek just means an "expert or enthusiast" and "a person heavily interested in a hobby"...thus you have sports geeks, music geeks, fashion geeks, etc.

  • BluTopaz | May 28, 2013 2:59 PM

    Agreed. I know it's unfair to assess the entire concept based on this very short clip, but IMO it looks like an effort to coin a phrase, a Black version of something else for the sole purpose of defining some type of movement. It's like that website Black Girls Like Us (i think that's what it's called). It's a couple of young Black women who endlessly wax poetic about how much they love cultural pursuits that are not considered Black past times-big freaking deal.

    And it's sad how anyone who is merely an academic is considered a nerd by overall Black American standards. Re: Obama's nerd-ness, his background is certainly an outstanding accomplishment for anyone, esp being president of Harvard Law Review. But in many non-Black families an Ivy Leaguer (or any university student) is a normal standard-not nerd status.

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