Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a nerd who is black.
The Black Nerd is a countertrope to common racial stereotypes. Most nerds are portrayed by races with the stereotype of being weak or bookish, such as whites, Asians, and Jews. Black people, on the other hand, are often portrayed as jive-talkingSoul Brothas, Gangbangers, or Scary Black Men. The Black Nerd upsets these trends by being, well, a Black Nerd. This is especially common in comedies, where writers are often reluctant to feed into racial stereotypes, but need flaws to make their characters funny. Giving a black character personality flaws which run counter to common stereotypes is a convenient way to add diversity, while trying to avoid accusations of discrimination.
Writers might deliberately invoke the trope to shake things up and challenge the audience's assumptions, but other times the trope is only used to turn a smart supporting character into the Token Black. The Black Nerd character is usually intended to ignore racial issues at least onscreen. He is rarely ever perceived as acting white, however.
Often the Black Nerd is simply an expert in a nerdy field, such as computers, and doesn't really possess many negative characteristics commonly found in nerds of other races. This variant of the Black Nerd may become a case of Positive Discrimination if they have an overly high level of overall competence resulting from their intelligence, without flaws to counterbalance. There are also quite a few people that have a thing for geeky black guys/girls, mostly due to them not being as prominent. A popular type of Black Best Friend. See also Asian and Nerdy and just plain Nerd.
When this trope shows up in rap music, it's Comics Rule Everything Around Me. Contrast Pretty Fly for a White Guy.
Nils Nielsen from Gundam Build Fighters is known in-universe as "The Early Genius," for an intelligence that has him performing doctoral studies as a teenager, and "Samurai Boy," for his apparent passion for Japanese culture. He enters the world tournament with his Sengoku Astray not to win, but specifically to discover the properties of the Plavsky particles that allow the series' titular toy mechas to move and fight like the machines in the show they are based on. Oh, and he's also a ninja.
George Hamilton III in Peter Bagges' Slice of LifeComic BookHate. (He appears as a supporting character, and, no, the title does not refer to racism.)
Alex Wilder, in Runaways. He's even introduced playing a Marvel MMORPG.
The upper-class psychiatrist in Watchmen is a black man, contrasted with the low-class, street-smart, red-headed Rorschach.
Hardware's best friend Deacon "Phreaky Deak" Stuart.
Taylor Mckessie, the African American head of the chemistry club from the High School Musical movies, with a straight A grade point average.
In the first Die Hard film, the computer hacker is black, wears glasses, and doesn't have any combat skills. He spends most of his time making basketball references, as if to prove that he's black.
Anthony Anderson as Glen Whitman in the 2007 Transformers movie, to the extent that when Epps compares claw slashes in a steel wall to Freddy Krueger, Glen jumps in and geeks out by insisting that it was Wolverine, his reasoning being there were three claw marks (Wolverine has three claws on each hand) and Freddy Krueger has four claws. After a beat, Simmons claims this outburst to be "very funny".
Ving Rhames in the Mission: Impossible movies. Like other iffy examples of the trope, he's not really a nerd at all. In fact, he's arguably a Scary Black Man who happens to be a super-hacker as well. Most likely his race is a reference to Barney Collier in the original TV show, who really is a nerd.
Brian in The Day After Tomorrow puts a lampshade on it: "Sir, I am president of the electronics club, the math club, and the chess club. Now, if there is a bigger nerd in here, please point him out."
Ray Arnold, played by Samuel L. Jackson, in Jurassic Park is the park's chief engineer, a nerdy field, though he displays no nerdy characteristics. Contrasting him is Wayne Knight's character Dennis Nerdy Nedry, who is a standard, fat, white computer nerd.
Jeffrey Wright plays a version of this in Source Code, although he was also rather a Mad Scientist.
Ethan in Sky High is this, right down to the button-up shirts and dorky glasses.
Duncan Pinderhughes in Class Act, he is a genius high school student who was getting ready for graduation, but is somewhat disheartened to find out that, despite his perfect SAT score and 4.0 GPA, Harvard University will not admit him unless he can pass phys. ed.
Johnson, Bob Morton's friend and fellow exec at OCP in the Robocop movies.
Ronald Wilkes in Cedar Rapids, a straight-laced and nerdy insurance salesman. In one scene, however, he lapses into a Scary Black Man impersonation in order to get his friends out of a fight. He reveals afterwards that he was impersonating a character from "the HBO program The Wire," of which he is a huge fan. Fittingly, the actor had a role in The Wire.
Effectively enforced within the setting itself for Elijah in Unbreakable: intelligent, black, and suffering from a congenital disorder that makes physical activity impossible. His mother introduces him to comic books to give him something to do, and by the time he is adult he owns and runs a comic arts gallery.
In the Jim Carrey comedy Me, Myself & Irene, the protagonist's three black sons: Jamaal, Shonté Jr. and Lee Harvey are simultaneously Black Nerds as well as Slang-SpeakingScary Black Men.
Paul 'Lord Nikon' Cook from Hackers. Hosts viewing parties of pirate TV show Hack the Planet, Squees over Acid Burn's new laptop, has legendary hacker Zero Cool's exploits memorized.
Hiro Protagonist in Snow Crash combines this trope with Asian and Nerdy, being half black and half Japanese as well as one of the better hackers and programmers around. However, he's not much of a nerd at all. In fact, he's got a beautiful ex-girlfriend, a bunch of friends, and badass sword skills both in and out of Cyber Space.
Isaiah in Someone Else's War. (Well...all the characters are black, but he's the only one who's nerdy.)
Olamide from The Cavaliers Series. In Oxford Blood is by far the hardest working of Harriet’s group of friends. She dresses in a fairly dowdy manner, has an equally nerdy boyfriend and is generally more at home in the library than the bar In Screaming Spires, she reacts to the trauma of her boyfriend’s murder by becoming glamourous and barely working, to the extent that she’s almost kicked out of Oxford. :
Nicole in Beauty Queens is very smart and wants to be a doctor. However, she isn't socially awkward and Beauty Queens explicitly discusses race.
Power Rangers has had a couple of these. Damon in Lost Galaxy was the team Grease Monkey and Mr Fix It, whose duties included helping repair their city-sized spaceship's engines. An even better example would be Ethan from Dino Thunder - gamer, comic fan and nearly inseparable from his laptop (his first scene shows him hacking the school sprinkler system for a prank). He does have a hidden athletic side that got brought out in "Leader of the Whack".
The Cat's alter-ego Duane Dibbley in Red Dwarf. He was introduced as the Cat's worst nightmare in the Despair Squid episode, then proved popular enough for a return appearance when a psychic monster sapped the Cat of his cool. John-Jules' claims the character is so popular because "no-one's ever written a black nerd before."
Toofer. In the pilot, he's told "Are there other black nerds or is it just you and Urkel?"
In Season 7, Tracy dismissed Barack Obama as "that half-nerd".
Tracy himself would count. He's definitely nerdy, he just doesn't display any of the common drawbacks (in that he's popular, cool, and has lots of sex). He's stated to be a big fan of both Star Trek and Star Wars, and one of his most famous scenes has him running around while screaming "I am a Jedi!" at the top of his lungs. This would be a bit of Real Life Writes the Plot, since Tracy Morgan is a big fan of Star Wars in real life.
Also Grizz and Dot Com (to an extent), as they're both very well read, speak in soft eloquent voices, and are cultured in art and music, but their physical appearance suggest big, scary, black body guards.
Gus in Psych. Shawn disapproves of all Gus's comic books, spelling bee and grammar fixations, but almost every episode some of Gus's obscure nerd knowledge comes in handy.
One could argue he is the ultimate subversion of nerd in all of Trek fandom. The majority of human characters on the show that we have seen are science nerds who work in Star Fleet or are preparing to do so. Jake rejects this and just wants to be a writer. He's a non-nerd in a society compromised of nerds...and he's black.
He's a LITERATURE nerd, not a SCIENCE nerd. In the tech-heavy civilization of the Federation, being into literature is about as nerdy as being into computers and technology is in ours.
Turk from Scrubs is both a black nerd (Or "blerd", as he calls it) and one of the show's cooler characters. He actually referred to his cousin as one. One episode had him as a temporary medical resident after breaking his arm and he wore Nerd Glasses to appear nerdier.
Brother Mouzone from The Wire is exhibits some nerdy traits, such as being immaculately dressed in a bow-tie suit, a high-brow speaker, an avid reader, and an intellectual. However, he's also a ruthless drug gang enforcer.
In Degrassi The Next Generation, Liberty Van Zandt is the queen of the nerds. Lakehurst's Damian might also count for this trope. In later seasons, Connor takes over Liberty's role as Supreme Black Nerd.
Chris Rock expresses this opinion of his childhood self in Everybody Hates Chris: "Before the Internet, there were only two black nerds. Me, and this guy."
Troy in Community, although being a former prominent high-school jock, shares a lot of geeky pursuits with his pal Abed.
Cash from Breaking In is such a big Trekkie the agency found him stalking William Shatner, and was able to get Captain Kirk's chair as a reward for keeping him away. He also wanted to do a paired Star Wars cosplay, and was offended when the protagonist refused to join.
Mac from The Fades, who has a very wide variety of geeky interests to which he compares the show's central premise.
Boomer from the classic Battlestar Galactica can fit this trope, since he does have a knack for hot-wiring, such as on 'hovormobiles' as revealed in the episode 'Fire In Space'.
Clarence from Boston Legal although not strictly a nerd, was intelligent and socially awkward. The difference was that instead of replacing socialisation with intellectual pursuits, he found that he could socialise confidently in drag.
Marcus in FoxTrot. He's actually the Black Best Friend of equally nerdy Jason Fox, and his dad is apparently some sort of scientist; Jason borrows his oscilloscope on one occasion.
Oliver Wendell Jones, from the comic strip Bloom County. Probably best illustrated in the strip sequence when his mother tries to get him to act a little more 'black' by wallpapering his room with a huge picture of Michael Jackson's face. Oliver responds by hanging a picture of Albert Einstein over it.
Lemont Brown from Candorville is a rare main character example of this. He never acts in a manner contrary to the trope, so he can be a bit weak for a protagonist, but thanks to Character Focus he's more fleshed out than most examples.
Huey and Caesar from The Boondocks fit this to a T, especially Huey (who frequently references Star Wars). Riley has actually called them nerds on occasion.
"You wouldn't normally think a black kid would be running a high-school computer lab, but we have one doing just that," Blochner said of her show, whose uplifting and dignified portrayal of black youths in America is being widely credited for the sudden flowering of racial justice and harmony across the nation.
Harvard Law graduate David Otunga qualifies, what with his goofy bowties and argyle sweater-vests.
Xavier Woods definitely qualifies. He's a fan of anime, comic books, video games, and pretty much anything from The Nineties. Not only is he One of Us, Xavier Woods is also educated. One of his degrees is a Master's in Psychology and he's working on getting a PHD.
In Warhammer 40,000 Vulkan, the black Primarch of the SalamandersSpace Marine chapter was, with the possible exception of Ferrus Manus, the most technologically savvy of the Emperor's sons, being an expert weaponsmith. His chapter carries on this legacy as they often design and build their own weapons, particularly flame throwers and the eponymous war hammers (playing their John Henry iconography for all it's worth), and are generally one of the more intelligent, or at least reasonable, Imperial factions. The Space Wolves chapter is also something of an example, as the few dark-skinned members come from a mercantile culture that lives on their planet's southern islands rather than the more primitive vikings in the frozen north the chapter usually recruits from. As a result, Black Wolves are more familiar with technology and more likely to take up skilled positions like tank commanders or Techmarines rather than foot soldiering.
The rock musical Passing Strange focuses on a middle-class young black man from L.A. who is into Zen Buddhism and spirituality, and leaves home to travel Europe and commune with other artists. Somewhat subverted in that he's also rock musician. The character is actually based upon the show's co-writer and narrator Stew, of the band The Negro Problem.
Louis from Left 4 Dead works in IT. That alone might not be enough to make him into a nerd, but in comparison to Bill and Francis, who are a retired Green Beret who served two tours of duty in Vietnam and a Bad Ass Biker, he can come across as a mix of one and an Action Survivor.
The Sacrifice DLC shows him to be a bigger nerd than once originally thought. He can read Japanese, makes a joke by comparing computer firewalls with molotovs, and is worried about having no internet or Xbox to play with when he and the other survivors go to the Florida Keys to live on an island.
Donald Anderson in Metal Gear Solid and Sigint in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (who are actually the same character), They're not exactly as nerdy as Otacon or other scientist characters, but they're not exactly skilled soldiers either.
From Dino Crisis we have Rick, who spends most of the time in the control rooms as well as fixing technical problems.
Nishan of High School Story is a black nerd with a mohawk. He used to do homework for jocks before transferring to your school in addition to maintaining his own high grades, and eventually builds a scale model of a Venusian volcano complete with toxic gas clouds.
Jericho of the Whateley Universe. He's fifteen years old and is building power armor. Working power armor. His clothes are also the most horrible thing on a campus full of HalfHumanHybrids and other monstrosities.
In Recess, Vince's older brother Chad is this, though it's used only to illustrate a difference between him and Vince, who's an ace athlete.
Also Rodney, one of the Pale Kids.
One of the three nerds who roomed with Homer at Springfield U. in The Simpsons.
The character in question, Benjamin, was once mistaken for Urkel in the comics.
Wyatt from 6teen isn't a complete nerd, but he is the most intellectual of the group. Though he looked very geeky as a kid (complete with glasses and vest).
Walter "Doc" Hartford of Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers both fits and subverts the trope. A bona-fide computer psychiatry Ph.D. and top-notch hacker, he is also prone to making pop culture wisecracks and fond of jive slang, often acting as the team's comic relief. However, he also acts as the team's Deadpan Snarker and the Badass Normal.
Cleo Carter from Tutenstein, when it comes to Egyptology.
Jodie from Daria. She wasn't that nerdy, but her parents were constantly on top of her to do well, often at the expense of a social life. Mack was also one of these to an extent, although he was also a football player and one of the popular kids.
The Real Ghostbusters and Extreme Ghostbusters have Winston Zeddemore and Roland, respectively. Winston's frequently seen brushing up on historical texts (a trait carried on to the 2009 video game) and is a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, while Roland loves classical music. Of course, they're both very experienced with advanced technological equipment as well, due to their jobs.
Nicely summed up by Donald Glover (famous for being a black nerd on Community)
"...I'm a black nerd and that shit was illegal 'till like, 2003."
Rosario Dawson. Also Puerto Rican and still nerdy. Not to mention hot.
Lupe Fiasco. Loves Anime, manga, videogames, skateboarding, martial arts, and coincidentally is one of the most creative and talented rappers out there.
Pharrell Williams played in a marching band in high school, enjoys Star Trek and the words of Carl Sagan, and one of his bands is named N.E.R.D.
Mendel Bij de Leij of Aborted and System Divide fame is well-known for his love of video games and anime.
US immigration policy gives strong preference to people with skills and education, which means that this trope is often Truth in Television when it comes to African immigrants and their children. (This policy is also one of the main causes of Asian and Nerdy.) Statistically, sub-Saharan African immigrants have higher levels of educational attainment than all other American ethnic/immigrant groups, including whites and Asians. Nigerian Americans, as a migrant group, are the most educated in the U.S..
The Atlantic's senior editor and blogger Ta-Nehisi Coates. Aside from his more obvious American history and music nerdom, he's a huge fan of comic books and plays World of Warcraft. According to his memoir The Beautiful Struggle, he was also a bit of a Cloud Cuckoolander as a kid.
Aisha Tyler has a "I Can Kick Your Ass At Halo" shirt, and in one stand-up routine claimed that she would never have kids because that would eat into her Halo time.
Kanye West comes across as this on a lot of his songs (especially on his first three albums). Even his dark, angry, experimental effort of Yeezus includes a line referencing Star Wars.
Players of the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG who play in California will that there are a lot of black players. This wouldn't be noticeable aside from that black players from California tend to act in a manner that wouldn't clue you in that they were nerdy in the slightest, acting as street tough, like the people who you would expect to make fun of you in school for playing the game.
Jay-Z isn't really this, but his engineer Young Guru is, and when he was working with Jigga on his then-new album back in 2005, Guru was reading a comic called Kingdom Come. He saw the parallels between Superman's place in the comic, and Jay-Z's place in hip-hop. As a result, in 2006, Jay-Z released his comeback album - entitled Kingdom Come.
LeVar Burton plays these sorts of characters a little too well to be entirely acting, as evidenced by his work as Geordi LaForge (who really ought to be the trope image) and his work on Reading Rainbow.
Many of the top fighters within Fighting Game tournaments are black.
Especially Marvel vs. Capcom. It's Mahvel, baybee! Incidentally, the guy who said that is actually Hispanic, but most people assume he's black and a lot of people see him as the face of the Mahvel side of the FGC, at least until the third game (where he was referenced)
The 2011 and 2012 EVO champion of Mortal Kombat 9, is a black guy named PerfectLegend. In 2013, Perfect Legend's was dethroned as the Mortal Kombat 9 EVO champion, only for another black and nerdy guy named C88 DJT to take the title.
Kiera Wilmot, a black teenager who got expelled from school for a science experiment gone wrong.
To elaborate, the girl was an ace student and had no previous record of doing anything wrong, but was expelled and charged under Zero Tolerance policies. But, in a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming; fellow nerd Homer Hickam, a retired lead astronaut trainer for Spacelab and the ISS, learned of her story and got scholarships for both her and similarly academically accomplished sister to attend Space Camp. Is Nerds Stick Together a trope?