Blerdcon, The Biggest Blerd Conference, To Return This July


At the Georgia World Congress Center and Omni Hotel in Atlanta in 2015, superhero Static Shock strolled past Loki and Thor. From anime to animation to comic books and video games, thousands of enthusiasts at MomoCon cosplayed as a celebration of some of the biggest names in the art of animation, gaming and comics.

In the crowd, Hilton George stood while the beginnings of a new project formulated in his mind. “I just thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a con that focused on Blerd culture and contribution in the geek space?’,” said George. “It was all uphill from there.”

Two years after attending the 2015 MomoCon event, George, alongside his friend Hassan Parrish, debuted the first Blerdcon at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Virginia.

As the first large conference for Blerds, Blerdcon honors Blerd culture, which, according to some, extends as far back as the times before the American Revolutionary War with the first publishing of poet Phillis Wheatley’s work. Well-versed on the works of Homer, Ovid and Virgil, Wheatley eventually became one of the best-known poets in pre-19th century America.

Blerd culture continued throughout the years with the publishing of the works of authors such as Ralph Ellison and his “Invisible Man,” as well as those of famed Afrofuturist writers like Octavia E. Butler. Representation in sci-fi also increased with the introduction of characters such as LeVar Burton’s Lt. Commander La Forge and Nichelle Nichols’ Lt. Nyota Uhura in the original Star Trek series. Currently, popular figures in Blerd culture include a variety of creatives such as writer and director Jordan Peele as well as Lovecraft Country’s showrunner Misha Green.

Named after the term, Blerdcon’s main focus as a convention is to create spaces for the underrepresented people in fandoms across animation, gaming and anime. To celebrate the culture, the conference offers attendees an experience filled with celebrity speakers from these fandoms, the opportunity to enter contests, as well as entrance to panels about a variety of topics.

Scheduled to start on July 7 this year, Blerdcon returns to the Hyatt Regency for the sixth time with a new annual theme.

Titled “Fae’d to Black,” Blerdcon’s latest theme celebrates the current fantasy releases that have included representation for the Blerd and other BIPOC communities. With “Fae’d to Black,” this year’s Blerdcon will feature a Fae Tea Party and a Fae Fashion Walk as part of Blerdcon’s cosplay contest.

Other events over the three-day conference include panels on anime music, 90s animation, esports, folklore in the African Diaspora and Blerd culture, such as Blerd parenting. Blerdcon will also host competitions such as Blerd jeopardy, Blingo and the Spades Tournament.

With over 100 of these panels and workshops planned, the Black Heroes Matter panel on Afrofuturism is expected to be one of the biggest.

This year, the discussion will feature Pulitzer-winning journalist, host and professor, Professor Karen Hunter and Chair of the Department of Afro-American Studies at Howard University Dr. Greg Carr, alongside Dr. Kevin Strait and Dr. Sunyatta Amen as moderators. Centered around Afrofuturism, the panel will cover its history and its influence on society, philosophy, media and more.

“BlerdCon is a more dynamic space for creatives with its Spades tournaments, food trucks, game stations and more. It is the homecoming equivalent of ComicCon,” says Hunter.

“It’s taken many forms over the years as Uraeus [creator of Black Heroes Matter] assembles the best and brightest speakers to advance discussions important to us all,” said George. “Each time it gets better and better. We’re honored to have it.”

Blerdcon will officially end on July 9 with a closing ceremony that’s set to honor the Blerd community members that have passed away, including the late Blerdcon co-founder Hassan Parrish. With the close of the conference, George hopes that Blerds can walk away with new relationships with fellow Blerds.

 “We represent a level of comfort and community that many Blerds feel nowhere else. The ties, connections, and experiences they had here build community out there,” said George. “At their next regional convention, they’ll be more comfortable connecting with other Blerds either in meetups, panels, photoshoots to nurture the Blerdcon mission during the 362 days per year when they aren’t here.”

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