This morning Racialicious posted a blog by performance poet and activist Bao Phi, titled NOCs (Nerds of Color) (Originally posted in the Star Tribune Your Voices Blog). Thoughtful and beautifully written, the blog addresses the pressing, yet often ignored, issues of cultural appropriation, representation and stereotypes, and invisibility of people of color within the further marginal community of “nerd culture.” This is something a colleague and I try to address in an upcoming article about teaching Asian American graphic narratives, and in the HASTAC forum I’ll be co-hosting this week.
What is so incredibly fascinating, in addition to the the content of the blog, which is undoubtedly significant and which I personally agree with, is the resounding diversity among responses. The comments for this particular blog aren’t as vocal and controversial as those for this blog written by Annalee Newitz for io9.com, which sparked massive discussions and criticisms for her critical reading of racial politics and colonialism in James Cameron’s Avatar. Why is it that so many people are reluctant to speak of race and so adamant against those who do? What does the denial of race in our cultures say of us? Of course, there are those who are engaging in this important dialectic, and that is important, but what about those who refuse? Or those who attack the people who engage? What of them?