Janelle Monet's "I Like It" Performance Is An Ode To Black Girl Nerds Everywhere

Last night at 2018's BET Awards, Ms. Monet blessed Black women worldwide with two uplifting and empowering anthems, but it’s the second half of her performance that I want to talk about.

To some extent, it’s always been socially acceptable for Black men to be nerds, and I better not see one comment debating that because ya’ll are not about to ruin up my good mood with your nonfacts.

That’s why “I Like It” resonated with me in such a way that it brought me to some of the hardest tears I’ve cried in a week or so.  

“I Like It” brought out every painful memory of being a young Black girl growing up on the South side of Chicago who was—to put it bluntly—bulled to the point of considering suicide at ages nine and eleven because it seemed like everything from my hardcore love of anime, manga, video games, and right down to my manner of speaking,  how I dressed, the music I love, and my decision to date nonblack men as well—ALL OF THAT—meant I  grew up my entire life being told I was “not Black” or “Not Black enough”.

And It was never a matter of my being seen as “sensitive” or “overreacting”—

Having your fellow Black people deny your Blackness for something as innocuous as listening to Evanescence is, sure, something I can see with the eyes of an adult as being completely asinine and ignorance on the part those certain Black people. But as a child already excluded from their peers for having different interests than from is considered “mainstream” the Black community, I, and so many other Black girls and women out there had their ENTIRE RACIAL IDENITITY denied from their earliest formative years, and to this day. By our own friends, family members, classmates, and community.

As an adult, I can shake that shit off, but as a young Black girl with already crushing self-esteem issues, having the one thing that truly belonged to me—the gift of being Black—felt as though it were being denied time and time again and there really is no way of protecting yourself at that age from such emotional damage. And the effects can truly be damaging.

That’s why I was brought to some of the hardest tears I’ve cried in a minute when, earlier this morning, a friend sent me the link to Janelle’s performance. It was singlehandedly the most uplifting, validating, and emotionally cathartic moment I have experienced in a very, very long time.

And it’s easily, EASILY, one of the greatest Black Girl Magic moments in history. Thank you, Ms. Monet.