BGNO Anniversary: Bayana’s Favorite Moments
This week is the anniversary of Black Girls Nerd Out! Two years ago, I came to Robyn with the idea of starting a nerd blog. Originally under the title “The Life and Times of a Black Girl Nerd,” Robyn and I were running a site that was both ambitious and unsustainable. Once I started school back up, the blog as no longer something we could keep up or put any real energy into. A little over a year ago, Robyn and I decided we wanted to start the blog over again. We decided to have the start date be right after I graduated college, since that way we would have more time to actually run the site. We came up with a more sustainable plan, that has now grown, and now not only have we been working on BGNO for a year, but we have plans for further growth.
So in celebration of our success, and in the hope that we will continue to grow and build community, I am sharing my favorite posts and moments from the blog:
My Favorite Posts of Mine
One of the first posts I did was about Zoe Washburne of Firefly fame and her portrayal in the show. It was a topic I had been thinking about a lot after rewatching the series for a Sci-fi Lit class I had at school.
Another one of my favorite posts was one that literally popped into my head while I was trying to take a nap. I was thinking about Dumbledore and had maybe just finished watching Scandal (or maybe not, my brain is weird). Anyway, this post comparing Dumbledore to Papa Pope actually ended up having real substance and is one that has come up a few times during our recordings of #WizardTeam.
Another post I wrote came to me after the announcement that series 9 of Doctor Who would be Jenna Coleman’s last. I’ve never hated Clara as much as many members of the fandom, but I did recognize that her run as companion hadn’t been the greatest. I started to see similarities between her and my favorite companion, Martha Jones, and so I wrote a post about it.
Antagonists Humanized was a post I’m really proud of, not only because of the actual writing about the character development of antagonists, but because I was able to include five different fandoms that I belong to into one post, a feat I haven’t been able to replicate yet. Also, Leslie Odom Jr. saw it and thought it was cool, so that’s a win.
When #WizardTeam started Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, I was able to really think about my feelings about the house elves and their representation in the Harry Potter series. Since Harry Potter was my inspiration for the post, I mostly talked about house elves, though I did bring in Doctor Who and other sci-fi examples as well.
My Favorite Posts of Robyn’s
When Robyn dropped Why Literary Fiction is Bullshit, I was so glad. We had just had a conversation where I had ranted to her about a book I had to read for class, how terrible it was, and how stupid it was that it was considered more high brow in comparison to genre fiction. In this post she goes in on why this is ridiculous.
Both Robyn and I write and talk a lot about movie and television adaptations to our favorite books (see any Order of the Phoenix rant I’ve had on #WizardTeam). This piece talks about adaptations in a really thoughtful way, and so is one of my favorites.
Robyn wrote this piece after we said goodbye before my move to Chicago. I love this piece because it is about our friendship, which started out with a love of Harry Potter and has grown into a website and community that celebrates our nerddom.
I’ve been waiting on Robyn to write about Harry Potter and Stunted Adolescence ever since she mentioned it on #WizardTeam. It took her awhile, but it is a great piece that really explores the ways some of the adults in Harry Potter never really grew up and how if effects their interactions with other children, most noticeably Harry himself.
After Lemonade dropped, black women all over felt validated. I love this piece of Robyn’s because it not only explains her connections to Lemonade but why so many black women connected to Beyoncé’s latest project while also not being a monolith.
Though Hogwarts BSU got off to a shaky start, it has been one of my favorite things about our site. It is so representative of what Robyn and I are trying to do with BGNO, and how we’re really interested and committed to the representation of black women and people of color as a whole in media. While the idea started off as a small thing my dad and I were talking about on a train, it has become a space for people to imagine what it would be like to be black at Hogwarts, a place in the Harry Potter books that, like the rest of the Wizarding World, largely exists as a “color blind,” space. I also really love the interactive nature of this project; I get to edit and discuss these stories and art with other black Potterheads, and everyone has such amazing ideas!
#WizardTeam is one of my favorite things about running Black Girls Nerd Out. I love telling people that I cohost a Harry Potter podcast, and the fact that Robyn and I have scheduled time where we spend and hour plus talking about Harry Potter is one of the best things ever. While most of the #WizardTeam episodes have the same structure, and I therefore can’t remember all of the ones I like most, there are a few that stand out. Obviously, our first episode is one that I love, though the sound quality isn’t all that great, if for no other reason that it is our first. We are over 40 episodes into the podcast now, and it all started because people were interested enough in us talking about Harry Potter for at least an hour each week, and stuck with us after that first episode.
The rest of my favorites that stand out are all bonus episodes, which I think makes sense since they are a different format than our regular episodes. Episode 23 and 1/3, where we discussed the information on wizard schools and when Robyn was finally sorted, was hilarious to me. We did two in between Episodes 28 and 29, one where we compiled the Black Wizard History Month excerpts (where we had great discussions on the explicitly black students at Hogwarts), and the one where we discussed the History of Magic in North America Pottermore series with guest Johnnie Jae. The thing I love about the bonus episodes is that we are unrestrained in the topics we can pull from; while we don’t have very many limits in our regular episodes, we do have to pay attention to time so that we can get through the entire chapter, but for the bonus episodes the structure is much more loose and therefore allows us a bit more freedom to really dig deep into these important topics.
There have been plenty of memorable moments on Twitter, including the times I had thoughts and feelings and ranted about them, often forgetting to link the tweets (but you do what you want when you poppin). However, there were two moments that were especially fun.
The first was finding out that Hermione would be played by Noma Dumezweni in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I remember scrolling down to find the casting pictures and my heart stopping when I saw that a black woman was playing Hermione. I had seen fanart of a black Hermione and loved it, but actually seeing it manifest in casting was amazing. I almost broke down in the back of an Uber and again on BART. What was more, I was literally on my way to record #WizardTeam with Robyn. That episode is hilarious to me because the beginning of it is just us yelling about Hermione being black. It was such a glorious moment that the trolls still can’t penetrate my happiness about it. We also were interviewed by BBC about our reaction, which was surprising but really great.
Another moment that was great were the #HamiltonPotter and #HamiltonWho hashtags. They were started during the influx of Hamilton crossover tweets (including #Force4Ham, #ParksAndHam, and a bunch of others). I remember getting on a roll and coming up with so many ideas that I had to slow myself down by forcing myself to get a certain amount of work done before I would be allowed to tweet again (it happened during NaNoWriMo and I had words to write). It was really fun and people jumped in, showcasing how brilliant and nerdy we all are.
There have been a bunch of other moments during this year that have been exciting, and I expect even more awesome moments in the year to come. Really, thank you everyone for reading our pieces, listening to our podcast, tweeting at us, and putting up with our lack of chill. It means so much that other people are interested in the things that we do and would do even if people weren’t interested. We say this a lot, but y’all really are the Real MVPs!