The creators of the website Black Nerd Problems bring their insights to this collection of pop-culture essays on everything from Mario Kart and The Wire to issues of representation and police brutality across media.
As a Black man myself, I appreciated the choice to not over explain the Black references. Doing so would have made them seem less culturally significant than their white counterparts ... Similarly, the majority of the text is purposefully written in African American Vernacular English (AAVE), sometimes called Ebonics. For the most part Evans and Holman, both poets by training, do a masterful job of presenting this dialect as natural rather than forced. While some readers (particularly white ones) might at first be put off by the unfamiliar terminology, verbiage, phonetic spelling, the occasional usage of the n-word, and the quite liberal usage of the f-word, the slang is consistent enough that it typically feels quite organic. Like the choice to use black cultural references, the usage of AAVE goes a long way towards normalizing the Black experience ... However, the more serious topics are perhaps where the book sees some trouble. When addressing particular somber subjects—like the death of Breonna Taylor—Evans and Holman suspend the usage of AAVE and revert to Standard Written English (SWE) or White English. In effect, the authors code-switch, a process well-known to most Black Americans, when they feel that it is imperative that white readers understand their message ... it has the unfortunate side-effect of trivializing the predominantly AAVE segments of the rest of the book ... That said, overall, the collection is not only entertaining but thoughtful ... What they have done is packaged a selection of the pop cultural discourse the African-American community has always engaged in and made it accessible to all.
The writing is alternately hilarious, thought-provoking, and passionate, sometimes all within the same essay. The authors' knowledge of all things nerdy is encyclopedic yet the depth at which they connect their subject matter to real-life issues is what makes the book stand out ... readers' nerd knowledge doesn't have to be exhaustive for this book to resonate. The writing is conversational and invites spirited agreement or antagonism from its audience. Although the essays contain strong language, don't let it deter this purchase for older high schoolers. For students of color who love to debate the merits of DC versus Marvel, or even just nerd out to Disney's The Lion King, this book will be their mirror. And with so many essays, there's something for all nerds, regardless of the depth of their fandom ... Hilarious and thought-provoking essays that read like talking to a friend. Recommended for purchase.
Evans and Holmon, cofounders of the website Black Nerd Problems, bring their pop culture criticism to this wide-ranging, compulsively readable debut collection ... Evans and Holman are often hilarious...and always original. In addition to straightforward essays, some entries come in the form of high-octane, joyful dialogue between the authors ... The most gripping essays use cultural events as an entry point to discuss larger topics ... This hugely entertaining, eminently thoughtful collection is a master class in how powerful—and fun—cultural criticism can be.