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Like many young African-American women, I have struggled to establish my identity in this world, let alone in the African-American community. For most of my life, I have been a “closet geek.”
Over the years, I have been combating my loneliness by immersing myself with pursuits unusual for a 30-something African-American woman: watching BBC and other foreign language movies and programming, preferring amphibians for pets, engaging in chess, and listening to international music – while simultaneously keeping up with the latest fashion crazes and making jewelry.
One afternoon, I was watching “Black Narcisscus,” a 1947 psychological thriller starring Deborah Kerr. It tells of a group of nuns who are sent to the Himalayas to set up a convent and school for the local villagers. One of the nuns, Sister Ruth, feels isolated from other nuns. I really connected with Sister Ruth for her dark but delicate spirit.
In this Facebook society, it’s a struggle for me as an African-American woman to simultaneously be attractive and brainy. In a society where black women are expected to be ghetto and immature, one has to be brave and be more intelligent than anyone else.
In many places, I have encountered so much scorn and discrimination in my own race. I sometimes wonder whether to dumb down my image or continue to grow my mind and spirit with things that are nourishing.
There are days that I want to compromise my individuality and integrity by flowing with the in-crowd, but I know I have to represent a very small majority in this country, let alone the African-American community.
Sometimes it’s important to step up and rise to the beauty of being a beautiful black geek, or “bleek.”
It’s sad that the black community in general rather not recognize precious and intelligent black women who fancy themselves not with meaningless gossip, but with the meaning of life.
It’s lonely to be smart, but it’s about making it work. It’s in everyone’s nature to crave attention, especially African-American women, but sometimes being a quiet bleek is what gives us true value. It can be lonely at the top, but in the end, it pays off.
Until the day comes when beauty and brains are widely accepted and embraced, beautiful black bleeks will continue to be treated as black narcisscuses and be criticized just for liking Peanuts comic strips and being a sci-fi geek.
I want this essay to let all sophisticated and intelligent women know that it is perfectly classy to get a daily fix of Soduku puzzles along with gossip columns; to not miss a minute of “Masterpiece Theatre” as well as “America’s Next Top Model”; and to enjoy chicken tandoori alongside southern fried chicken. After all, being brainy is being beautiful.