“This Tupac museum is way better than going up to that little anime convention down the street!” I told a mother and daughter who asked me if I could take their picture next to a collection of notebooks from legendary rapper the late Tupac Shakur. Both women laughed and nodded in agreement. I myself was in awe reading his original, hand-written drafts of some of his iconic hit songs such as Troublesome ’96, To Live and Die in L.A., All About You, and California Love. From the pages, you could feel Tupac’s drive to make each of his works a masterpiece.
I was originally in Los Angeles during the 4th of July 2022 weekend for Anime Expo: the annual anime convention in which broke socially awkward weeaboos with disposable income spend their money to help support Los Angeles’s train wreck of an economy (and to an extent, California’s own train wreck of an economy).
However, in the planning stages of my L.A. trip, I came across an advertisement for the Wake Me Up When I’m Free Tupac exhibit hosted in L.A. Live. I figured that it’d be great to take a break from all the weeaboos who finally learned some social skills and take care of their personal hygiene during the COVID shutdowns in order to do something more laid back. Plus, as someone who’s a fan of hip-hop, the arts, and a proud Foundational Black American, I felt that it was my duty to pay respect to the man who not only changed the world but especially inspired Black people globally to rise up against systematic white supremacy and to better themselves.
Anime conventions come and go. Most offer the same thing that you can experience at any other convention. But, a once-in-a-lifetime pop-up museum revolving around the life of a Black man who changed society, well, I had to go and check that out before it was too late.
Not mere seconds upon entering the exhibit, I felt powerful energy and drive that I’ve never experienced at any anime con. The energy of Black Empowerment. The drive to better myself as a Black man. Reading stories of Afeni Shakur – the mother of Tupac – and her courage to stand up against white supremacy as a member of the Black Panther Party during the 70s made me feel proud to be who I am.
Seeing how driven Tupac was in his short 25 years of life to create and produced only fueled my own creative drive. Reading about how he was able to produce many hit songs even in jail made me realize how much I threw away so much free I was blessed with during the 2020-2021 COVID lock-downs. Freetime that could have birthed work. Work that could have birthed content. Content that could have birth funds for me to have a much better and longer time in Los Angeles and Anime Expo. Don’t get me wrong: I had a hell of a time in Los Angeles and Anime Expo this year – but – it would have been nice to have more money in my pockets and more time on my hands out there.
Hell, if I wasn’t such a moron who let his inner darkness take control which turned into a destructive mental slump over a simple minor medical issue like heart failure (that landed me in the hospital for a week), I could have produced so much high-grade content for my blog and YouTube channel. That in turn could have birthed new traffic flow to my website and subscriptions to my YouTube channel. I could have grown big enough to land myself a free press or industry pass for Anime Expo; thus, saving me money and netting those glorious industry connections (only for me to lose them given how quickly they will discover how I could never be in their industry like that with my savage mouthpiece).
I know that you should never compare yourself to someone else. It’s a dangerous mental trap, but I gotta get this off my chest. Tupac spent time in a hopeless situation like prison and was able to produce hits after hit. Yet I wasted a year of my life feeling sorry for myself. A year where I could I could have risen up from the darkness and into the light and just produce masterpiece content like him.
As Foundation Black Americans, it’s a skill we’ve mastered due to 400 years and counting of going through the most horrific and sinister shit in human history. Honestly, being in that exhibit (as well as a real friend giving me a kick in the ass about my behavior) just gave me the realization that I have to go back to my old-school ways (producing content like crazy like I did during 2017-2019).
Like Tupac, I had to take control of my own life and direct my own fate.
That’s true empowerment.
In contrast, the night before, I was at Atlus’s Persona 25th Midnight Masquerade dance party that was held during Anime Expo 2022. After waiting in the general admission line for over an hour, I had arrived just in time to hear this Asian DJ stop playing music (it wasn’t even Persona music, mind you) and start whining like a little bitch about as a child, he felt insecure about his racial heritage; wishing that he wasn’t Asian. As things couldn’t get more awkward, he sang a song about his struggles of being Asian in Canada. I wish that I would have recorded that, but I, along with my crew, felt second-hand embarrassment from that turn of events and left to chat it up with some Persona (and Shin Megami Tensei) cosplayers in the bar area.
(I can’t believe you early admission tickets guys really paid $25 to get in early only to hear that mess).
That was just pathetic. I couldn’t imagine being a young Asian person up at that party and hearing another Asian whine about how insecure he felt in his youth. How’s that empowering to anyone? Let me be that DJ! If I was him, I’d be up there talking reckless on stage about great Asians are because we made Persona, anime, and cosplay.
I would be like “If it wasn’t for us Asians making Persona and getting cosplay poppin all over the world none of these non-Asians motherfuckers would be here today dressing up as OUR characters! A lot of these dudes are only gonna get laid tonight cuz our race made characters like Ann Takamaki, Kasumi Yoshizawa, and Rise Kujikawa cuz these little cosplay hos are dressed up as the tonight! That Maya cosplayer looks positive and I ain’t talking about her always saying ‘let’s think positive’ in Persona 2 or COVID! Any guy getting with her later tonight better wrap up it! Anyway, We’re the master race – not the whites! Yellow Power! ”
I would MAKE sure neither Atlus nor Anime Expo hires me to DJ their events ever again!
That wild fantasy aside, that lack of knowing oneself through empowerment. It’s the mindset of most nerds. You have these white male nerds who have been given everything handed to them due to white supremacy. So, when something does go bad for them, they lack the willpower to get through it. That’s why you see these little white boy incels degrading shooting up public places, and getting involved with alt-right groups.
For the non-white nerds (and the white nerds who aren’t on board with white supremacy) they lack the courage to push through the hardships of life. Most only look forward to the past with blind nostalgia because they don’t see a hopeful future. Pride in oneself is absent from their psyche.
They use fiction as a shield to withdraw from and protect themselves against the savagery of this life. By hiding from life, they don’t have the foresight to see how amazing and beautiful life can be despite its cruel, twisted darkness. Most of these nerds don’t use any of this geek junk they indulge in to empower themselves. They hate on the alpha male and alpha female nerds who have the testicular and ovarian fortitude to not use nerd culture to hide from life. Why do you think there’s rarely any true self or communal empowerment at these conventions?
This is why I named this post “Reality Over Fiction”. I felt more driven to better myself in the two hours I spent at the Tupac museum compared to the 10+ years I’ve gone to these geek conventions across America. Honestly, you can’t find empowerment or people who want to better themselves at these conventions. Why? Because self-empowerment demands that you take a deeper look at yourself and force you to question what the hell have you been doing with all your life. They don’t want to realize they’ve wasted their life not doing anything with it. Funny, given the heroes they look up to (may they be fictional or real) rose up and empowered themselves.
Guess it’s easier in fiction than in reality.
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The Swarthy Nerd Podcast
A Black nerd empowerment podcast where Black nerds (well, all nerds, but Black first and foremost) can get together and talk freely about nerd culture while also acknowledging systematic white supremacy and racism in nerd culture. Every Tuesdays we drop episodes containing serious and laidback topics while Saturdays we drop episodes talking about TV shows, anime, film, comics, manga, and video games.
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