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BLERDBINDER: Black Nerds — Changing the World and Owning Their Inner Geek!

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Black Nerdom is on the rise. Shows like Netflix’s Astronomy Club have proven that there is a demand for it. And in the 21st century, there’s a long list of artists and creators whose contributions serve to dispel the old stereotypes.

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The most recent addition to tasteful Black Nerdom is Sherman's Showcase, created by Diallo Riddle and Bashir Salahuddin.

The Paradigm of the Black Nerd

By Noah Washington, blerdbinder.com, NNPA Newswire Contributor

The BlerdBinder covers nerdy news for the Black Nerds of the world. We welcome all as we talk about subjects ranging from Movies to Music and Tech to Toys.

When people think about a trendsetter (defined as “one who starts a trend”), their thoughts are usually associated with a certain stereotype that almost never includes Black Nerds.

However, Black Nerdom is on the rise. Shows like Netflix’s Astronomy Club have proven that there is a demand for it. And in the 21st century, there’s a long list of artists and creators whose contributions serve to dispel the old stereotypes.

Unfortunately, even those that acknowledge the power and reality of the new Black Nerd too often still cling to the stereotype of the nappy-headed Black kid wearing graphic t-shirts, drinking Blue Raspberry Mountain Dew and wrestling with horrible acne. (For the record, the BlerdBinder will never disparage anyone with acne.)

That stereotype has been challenged in the battle over misplaced perceptions that is currently being won by Black Nerds.

Black Nerds like Donald Glover, Issa Rae and Jordan Peele (that’s right, we’re claiming them!) have made some of the most significant advancements in pop culture and — in the same vein — history.

Glover’s breakout role in Community started him down a path that led to international stardom, establishing his personal brand as a man of class and dignity in Gucci loafers and cool jackets while casually channeling a groovy 70s era Black James Dean vibe. But he didn’t start there. He started his journey making YouTube videos with the sketch comedy group, Derrick Comedy. Those videos eventually led to his role as co-writer and co-star as “Master of Disguise” Jason Rogers in 2009’s indie film, Mystery Team. While the film may have showcased Glover’s immense talents, the role itself was far far away from the intergalactic “coolest guy in the galaxy” that would eventually be Glover’s take on Star Wars: A Solo Story’s young Lando Calirrisan.

Much like Glover, the Pam Grier-esque Issae Rae is an excellent example of someone who comes from nerdy and awkward beginnings. Literally! Her breakout claim to fame is her online web series, Awkward Black Girl. Rae successfully parlayed the online video shorts about awkward girl Blackness into celebrity, creating an international sensation that is featured in magazines around the world while disturbing the status quo in Hollywood.

Jordan Peele’s break out opportunity came in 2003 when he was hired as part of the cast of Fox’s Mad TV. He followed that success with Comedy Central’s Key & Peele, where he and fellow Mad TV alumnus, Keegan-Michael Key, American Culture.

The 41-year old Peele’s achievements are vast and diverse and include film credits as director, co-writer, producer and/or star (with Key in Keanu (2016); Spike Lee’s BlackkKlanman (2018), which he produced, receiving a Best Picture nomination from the Academy Awards; TBS’ The Last O.G.; YouTube Platinum’s Weird City (2019); and CBS All Access’ revival of the The Twilight Zone.

While Peele has deservedly received numerous awards and recognition for his contributions, perhaps the most significant is his Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his 2017 directorial debut, the horror film Get Out. Peeele also received nominations for Best Picture and Best Director for the film.

In 2019, Peele wrote, produced and directed Us. He is also producing Amazon Prime TV’s Hunters, a series set in 1977 about a group of Nazi hunters who discover that a group of Nazi war criminals are conspiring to create a Fourth Reich in America.

Shows like Blackish and Mixedish also include references to Black Nerdom. This is especially apparent in Blackish’s annual Halloween episodes, where the entire family takes the liberties bestowed by the October holiday to get their Super Geek on. However, even the non-holiday episodes feature a certain level of geekdom and references that would make the developers of Black Trivial Pursuit proud. You can tell that the series’ writers and other creatives working behind the scenes are geeking out at the opportunity to include the show’s many meta-references.

The most recent addition to tasteful Black Nerdom is Sherman’s Showcase, created by Diallo Riddle and Bashir Salahuddin. The show gets super meta in its storytelling, going as far as to parody the 1970s Fredrick Douglas Afro Sheen ads. Sherman’s Showcase also showcases the nerdiness of cool talented musicians while doing it in style. John Legend, Ne-Yo, Common and Mary J. Blige have all appeared on the show.

Set design and production values transform Sherman’s Showcase’s the skits and ideas (which come from some truly geeked-out minds in the show’s writer’s room) into undeniable visual and audio spectacles.

Netflix's Astronomy Club, Season 1

Netflix’s Astronomy Club, Season 1

The combination of culture and intelligence establishes the unique perspective that allows creative Black Nerds to develop original stories and visuals. Netflix’s The Astronomy Club offers a diverse and creative group of Black Nerds to develop sketch comedy that has been met with critical acclaim. Insightful sketches like “Dignity and Ambition for Magical Negroes (or the acronym, D.A.M.N. — rehab for character’s like The Help‘s Aibileen Clarke)” or “Weave Surgery Room” are funny on the surface but underscore critical aspects of Black Culture that the show’s group of Nerds magically transform into something funny and special.

Black Nerdom is a force that is taking the world by storm, eliminating the notion that narrowly defined Black Creativity. Gone are the days when a Black creator’s crazy ideas and impossible dreams were deemed “unrelatable” to the majority of the public. This extends to changes in Black Culture as well, where black kids were labeled as “white” just because their interests, intelligence and mode of creativity didn’t align with preconceived notions of Black Culture.

Today, Black Nerds are the trendsetters that are leading an all-encompassing (Black) Culture revolution. So, the next time you make fun of the Black Nerd at school, work or the barbecue, remember that one day she might be your boss.

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Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Amari is one of these artists and Ghofrane is an activist. Exploring how racism has shaped her life in all aspects including her early school days, her romantic life and everyday activities, Amari’s film showcases how Ghofrane uses her experiences as impetus to work to bring change to her country for all people. A compassionate and hopeful exploration of the life and aspirations of Ghofrane, She Had A Dream sheds light on women’s roles in Tunisia’s changing society and one woman’s battle to create change for her community.
The post Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D, NNPA Newswire Entertainment and Culture Editor

The documentary She Had A Dream by Tunisian filmmaker Raja Amari premieres on AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange series tonight at 8 p.m. EST on WORLD CHANNEL. Season 14 of the acclaimed documentary series captures Black artists and activists shaping and reclaiming culture, advocating for change and mobilizing for brighter futures. She Had A Dream offers an intimate portrayal of one young Black Tunisian woman’s quest for political office and her fight against racism and oppression in a society that often seeks to overlook both.

The documentary follows Ghofrane, a 20-something Black woman from Tunisia as she walks the path of self-discovery of young adulthood while running for political office in a homeland where many still view her as an outsider.

Watch the trailer below:

A dedicated, charismatic activist and a modern, free-speaking woman, Ghofrane in many ways is the embodiment of contemporary Tunisian political hopes still alive years after the Arab Spring. She Had A Dream follows Ghofrane as she works to conquer her own self-doubts while attempting to persuade close friends and complete strangers to vote for her. As audiences follow her campaign, they also follow the dichotomies of her life as a woman striving for a role in politics in the Arab world and as a Black person in a country where racism is prevalent, yet often denied.

“The 14th season of AfroPoP shines a light on the collective power, strength and resilience of Black people and movements around the world,” said Leslie Fields-Cruz, AfroPoP executive producer. “Viewers will see artists use their platforms to push for progress and human rights and see ‘ordinary’ people do the remarkable in the interest of justice.”

Amari is one of these artists and Ghofrane is an activist. Exploring how racism has shaped her life in all aspects including her early school days, her romantic life and everyday activities, Amari’s film showcases how Ghofrane uses her experiences as impetus to work to bring change to her country for all people. A compassionate and hopeful exploration of the life and aspirations of Ghofrane, She Had A Dream sheds light on women’s roles in Tunisia’s changing society and one woman’s battle to create change for her community.

She Had A Dream airs on AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange Monday, April 11 at 8 p.m. ET on WORLD Channel and begins streaming on worldchannel.org at the same time.

AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange is presented by Black Public Media and WORLD Channel. For more information, visit worldchannel.org or blackpublicmedia.org.

This article was written by Nsenga K. Burton, founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Twitter or Instagram @TheBurtonWire.

The post Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Sextortion” refers to sex being used as currency instead of money for services or products — in this case water. According to the Water Integrity Network (WIN), the testimonies collected from women over the past five years in Kibera and Mukuru Kwa Njenga, which are some of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi, point towards an invisible, unspoken, and sinister consequence of corruption in the water sector i.e. sextortion. Sex for water is not a new phenomena.
The post Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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BBC Africa is reporting Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, is facing a water shortage because of changing weather patterns and aging water facilities. The article reports, “Residents in informal communities like Kibra pay private vendors for water, meaning they now control the supply and access to water in the community.” The privatization of water access has led to an increase in the exploitation of women and girls in exchange for water.

“Sextortion” refers to sex being used as currency instead of money for services or products — in this case water. According to the Water Integrity Network (WIN), the testimonies collected from women over the past five years in Kibera and Mukuru Kwa Njenga, which are some of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi, point towards an invisible, unspoken, and sinister consequence of corruption in the water sector i.e. sextortion. Sex for water is not a new phenomena. Check out the 2018 ANEW documentary short below:

The water crisis and the sexual exploitation of girls and women as a result of the water crisis shows no signs of slowing down.

To read more about this crisis, visit BBC Africa‘s series of articles and videos on Kenya’s water crisis and the Water Integrity Network’s (WIN) study on sextortion.

This news brief was curated by Nsenga K. Burton, founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Twitter or Instagram @TheBurtonWire.

The post Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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#WordinBlack: Schools and Black Students’ Mental Health: The Kids Aren’t Alright

THE AFRO — Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Black youths ages 15 to 24, according to the Office of Minority Health. The same report found Black high school-aged girls were 60 percent more likely to attempt suicide than their white peers. And, by June 2020, the CDC saw the rate of Black respondents who reported having “seriously considered suicide” was significantly higher.
The post #WordinBlack: Schools and Black Students’ Mental Health: The Kids Aren’t Alright first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Maya Pottiger, Word in Black

It’s no surprise that we’re living through difficult times. After two years, we’re still in a global pandemic, which has predominantly impacted people of color. In addition, Book bans, attacks on critical race theory, and partisan political fights target everything from Black youths’ sexuality, to history, to health.

And we’re seeing the effects.

Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Black youths ages 15 to 24, according to the Office of Minority Health. The same report found Black high school-aged girls were 60 percent more likely to attempt suicide than their white peers. And, by June 2020, the CDC saw the rate of Black respondents who reported having “seriously considered suicide” was significantly higher.

For a variety of reasons — ongoing stigma, lack of insurance, most accessible — Black students often rely on the mental health services offered at school.Outside of a mental health-specific practice, Black students were nearly 600 times as likely to get mental health help in an academic setting compared to other options, according to 2020 data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In fact, mental health services in schools have been steadily gaining popularity among students since 2009, before dropping slightly in 2020 when the school year was interrupted, according to the SAMHSA report. As a result, the rate of students receiving mental health care through school decreased by 14 percent in 2020 compared to 2019.

So how are schools changing the way they address and prioritize mental health — and the specific needs of Black students — since 2020?

The Renewed Focus on Mental Health

For school-aged people, the majority of their time is spent in a school building — about eight hours per day, 10 months out of the year. To help address mental health during academic hours, schools are trying to focus on social-emotional learning: self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills. This includes teaching kids how to be in touch with their emotions and protect against adverse mental health outcomes.

But it’s been difficult.

Though there’s been more conversation, the implementation is challenging, says Dr. Kizzy Albritton, an associate professor of school psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. There was already a shortage of school-based mental health professionals before the pandemic, which has now been exacerbated, as have mental health issues. In addition, though schools clearly recognize the importance of mental health, they aren’t always provided adequate resources.

“Unless there are more resources funneled into the school system, we’re going to see a continued catch-up issue across the board,” Albritton says. “And, unfortunately, our Black students are going to continue to suffer the most.”

In a survey of high school principals and students, Education Week Research Center found discrepancies in how principals and students viewed a school’s mental health services. While 86 percent of the principals said their schools provided services, only about 66 percent of students agreed. The survey did point out it’s possible the school offers these services and students aren’t aware. The survey also found Black and Latinx students were less likely than their peers to say their schools offered services.

Dr. Celeste Malone, the president-elect of the National Association for School Psychologists and a Howard University associate professor, says she hasn’t previously seen this degree of attention to mental health in schools.

“I see that a lot in my role for a school psychology graduate program: the outreach and people contacting me with openings where they didn’t exist previously,” Malone says. “With this increased push in funding to hire more, that’s definitely a very, very positive movement.”

Mental Health Is Not One Size Fits All

Just like with many aspects of health, Black youths need different mental health support from their peers of other races. They need a counselor who understands their lived experiences, like microaggressions and other forms of discrimination or racism, without the student having to explain.

For example, in order to best address the specific mental health needs of Black students, districts need to provide information breaking down mental health stigmas; focus on hiring Black counselors, social workers, and mental health professionals; and fund anti-racist and trauma-informed mental health practices, according to the Center for American Progress.

While she hears a lot of talk, Albritton says she isn’t seeing widespread evidence of these solutions in practice.

“There needs to be a willingness, first of all, to understand that our Black students, their needs look a lot different,” Albritton says. School officials need to understand where Black students are coming from — that their families and households experience systemic and structural racism, which are known to trigger anxiety and depression. The effects of the racial wealth gap also play a role, from the neighborhood kids are living in, to the schools they can attend to the impacts on their health. Students might be bringing worries about these challenges to school, which could be reflected in their behavior. This is why, Albritton says, it’s crucial to also work with students’ families.

The post #WordinBlack: Schools and Black Students’ Mental Health: The Kids Aren’t Alright appeared first on AFRO American Newspapers .

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