Photo credits M’Shai Dash.
In an area that’s only a stone’s throw away from where California hosts its biggest and oldest comic con, the San Diego Comic-Con, MiraCosta College decided that this year they would follow suit with an event of their own. So last Thursday, February 28–the last day of Black History Month–they did just that. In a handful of rooms adjacent to the cafeteria in their student center building, the community college hosted its first ever Black Nerds Expo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The expo is the brainchild by J.D. Banks, a young powerhouse who works with the college’s Student Equity program, and was launched with the support of Dr. Wendy Stewart, the school’s current dean of the Counseling and Student Development, and a handful of energetic student volunteers.
Presenters and vendors were set up and fully hydrated by the time students started trickling in. Some were timid and others excited, but nearly all stopped to watch live sketches and grab comics and swag from the freebie table. Others collected stickers on a card that served as the passport for the event. Once they’d visited three tables and completed a few other tasks, they were allowed to partake in the prize table.
“This is our first time having anything like this,” said Stewart between warmly greeting groups of students as they filed in. “Last year we didn’t do much for Black History Month, so I’m glad it’s different this year.”
Aside from the comic books and art-centric theme, there was also an outreach group on hand. Members of the North San Diego County’s branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) were peppered throughout the event and provided leaflets about their resources and events. There was also a pop-up cafe provided by coffee and comic book connoisseurs, Panels.
By the time the lunch hour rolled around, the room was at capacity and Banks was a blur in sweatshirt and jeans as she handed out water, T’Challa eye masks, and updates at each exhibitor’s table. One group of kids were immersed in a Dungeons and Dragons game in the middle of the room, another in a fiercely tense Connect Four match, and others in the colorful, eye-popping prints spread out on artist Raquel Rhone’s table. Quantal Langford, a graphic artist, and creative entrepreneur took time out from his table to get pictures and interviews for his t.v. show. In the final hour, conversations about collectible pogs, parallels between Mestizo and African American culture, and which release of Final Fantasy was most epic were taking place simultaneously.
Coffee, conversations, and a diverse mix of nerds made for a day filled with excitement, good vibes and, most importantly, expectations for what next year’s event at MiraCosta College will be like. That’s a good thing, of course, because that means there’s already enthusiasm to make the expo a mainstay. In all, a successful launch.
M’Shai S Dash is a freelance writer and blogger from Washington D.C. She’s a pop-culture connoisseur and Legend of Zelda fanatic who writes about