blerDCon 2017: A Con For And By The People

Friday, July 7, 2017

Well I had a different post entirely on the docket for this week, but I think in the end it would be a disservice to the incredible weekend I had at blerDCon not to mention it here first.

blerDCon - black nerd con - happened for the very first time this past weekend in Crystal City, Virginia. It was an incredible amalgamation of not just black culture, but a variety of different minority representations across the spectrum of ethnicity, culture, age, gender, sexuality, physical (body) types and abilities, etc. And I have the absolute pleasure of sharing just how well done it all was.

I honestly didn't even know what type of expectations to have going into a first year convention, though hearing the founders speak at AwesomeCon gave me the impression that it was going to be bigger than I had initially envisioned.

Still, going down the escalator to immediately see the large swath of people, arcade machines, tables by T.A.G. Labs, MAGfest, a variety of cosplayers and minority nerd groups, etc. was simply amazing. To be able to see the huge number of artists and vendors that filled their Merchandise Hall made me proud. People of color had come together to put on the all-encompassing nerdfest that generations had waited for, and had done it in a way that clearly showed the commitment and the professionalism of those behind the scenes.

Was it perfect? No, but even big cons have room for improvement (Anime Expo and the lines of death anyone?) and the chance to be there at the beginning made the small hiccups worth it. Because the one thing I haven't even touched on yet was the panels. THE PANELS Y'ALL. The community showed OUT for this con, and the panels I was able to go to might not have been the big name authors and celebrity led ones of DragonCon's ilk, but each one was obviously a passionate expression of the panelists, which made the important topics they covered even more meaningful. Just a few of the ones I attended include:

  • Closet Cosplay
  • Fandom Diviserfied: Changing Dynamics of Nerd Journalism
  • Cosplay in Japan 101
  • Cosplay in Non-Canon Bodies
  • A Transgender Journey in Cospositivity
  • Anti-Blackness in Fandom
  • Asian-American Nerddom and the Quest for Cool
  • The Search for Latinx Geekdom and Diverse Nerd Culture
  • Plus Size Cosplay and Confidence
  • Blerdlesque
  • True Life: I'm a POC Cosplayer
  • Size, You: Perfect Fitting Costumes 

Like, do you see that list though?! And that was just some of the 150 panels provided, where only about 10% were actually initiated by blerDCon staff.

I feel privileged to have been able to attend the first year, to chat with staff, volunteers, other attendees in a way that is just not possible when there are 50,000-100,000 people. If you have the means I encourage you to put next year's dates on your calendar (*cough* July 27th -29th, 2018 *cough*) because I'm sure that what I experienced is just the beginning, and soon enough this little offshoot of DC is going to have its own downtown parade.

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