Black Women are Superheroes and Wear 'Digital Capes' Too
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Blogs and podcasts are accessible tools that produce cultural and technical capital, which cross communities and generations. Knowing the impact of blogging and podcast is on the rise, it is important that we investigate specific sites that use these tools to promote their messages and narratives. Black women’s use of blogs and podcasts allows the opportunity to center their lived experiences as a form of expertise. By uplifting marginalized voices, engaging in cultural criticism, and leading calls for action, these new media tools create an opportunity for Black women to incorporate a Black feminist and Afrofuturist practice. Additionally, other communities and networks can collaborate and form additional alliances that address their needs in new and innovative ways. For this project I seek to examine four sites, The Blerd Gurl, Nerds of Prey, Black Girl Nerds, and You Had Me at Black each of which cater to the representation of Black women in the nerd community and popular culture as a whole. Many of these women are wearing a “digital cape” so as to elevate their voices which are often left out of traditional print and broadcast journalism. With an emphasis on geek and nerd culture primarily for Black women these Black nerd networks, as described by Black Girl Nerd creator Jamie Broadnax, are places for Black women with “various eccentricities to express themselves freely and embrace who they are.” As safe spaces that showcase, interrogate, and celebrate the many facets of geek and nerd culture for Black women, many of these platforms encourages their followers to embrace their own identities, while also filling the gaps of popular and mainstream culture. The above sites in question also help close the gap that is the “digital divide” with the incorporation of race and gender. Thus, this research project transcends several academic disciplinary and can be defined as an academic/media community project. First, it will be an important contribution to examining the representation and complexities of online Black female nerd networks characters within the study popular culture, which has been understudied. Second, this research project also proposes a futuristic aspect discussing the transformative properties of these new media tools being used by Black women. I propose that these tools not only give voice to Black women issues and achievements but create various communities and networks that aid in understanding being different, promote self-care and pursuing a passion. Finally, this project lends itself in a growing digital humanities/media forum, which incorporates various digital and social media structures, such as Video blogs, Tumblr blog posts, and podcasts. As a multi-format public project that offers several ways of constructing knowledge: it becomes an academic and community archive, an outlet for building future collaborations/networks with the academy and the outside community, and a venue for participatory engagement.
DescriptionDigital Frontiers Session: New Media Communities
Annotated PowerPoint (.ppt) version available for download.