Out in the Open

Author Junot Diaz discusses the 'nerd' label in context of race

'Y'all can imagine a Norse god throwing a hammer around, but y'all get problems when... a black English dude is one of these Norse gods?'
A 2013 The Wire profile on Junot Diaz called him "kind of a huge nerd."

In 2013, a magazine profile on Junot Diaz called him "kind of a huge nerd." CBC's Out in the Open asked the Pulitzer Prize-winning author if he would ever use that word to describe himself.

"I've always felt very very nerdy," Junot admitted. "I think it's always funny because I grew up a poor, Dominican immigrant of African descent, and you know, it's still not an automatic natural for people to think that folks that come from my background are nerdy."

As the author explained, the stereotype is that people of Caribbean descent are not generally thought of as intellectuals. This is partly the reason why Junot embraces the "nerd" label.

"To be a nerd of colour in many ways challenges and tests the formulas. How white the baseline of nerdery is," he told Out in the Open host Piya Chattopadhyay. "And how white nerdery, this baseline, tends to be very defensive about not only the presence of people of colour but nerds of color's attempts to challenge that baseline. Attempt to, what we would say, increase the franchise of nerdery to make themselves present and not invisible."