Blerdcon Blends Diversity and Geek Culture

Up to 2,000 are expected to attend Blerdcon, a geek culture convention for minority nerds that runs through Sunday at the Hyatt Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia.

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Courtney Rozen
“This is one of the first fully inclusive conventions that celebrates diversity of all forms,” said Philip Odango, dressed as Maui the Demi-God from Disney’s Moana. He’s known as Canvas Cosplay.
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Blerdcon is a geek culture convention created specifically for minority nerds. It gets its name from the word blerd, a nickname for African-American fans of geek culture that combines the words black and nerd. Up to 2,000 are expected to attend the event, which runs through Sunday, said Hilton George, Blerdcon’s founder and chair.
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Attendees can catch workshops like Cosplay in Non-Canon Bodies, which explores how body type, race, and more play a role in costuming. Another workshop will teach artists how to sketch hair from different cultures.
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“It feels so good when you meet people like yourself,” said Cathy Abernathy of Herndon, Virginia. Abernathy will sell leather costume accessories at Blerdcon, a job she does full-time at geek culture conventions on the East Coast.
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The idea for Blerdcon all started at MomoCon, a geek culture convention in Atlanta, Georgia. George noticed how passion for geek culture erased shape, size, color, age and ability barriers between attendees. This sparked his idea for a convention built around inclusion.
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“I said, ‘Wow, if we create a convention that maybe highlights the fact that geekdom that can be more of the connective tissue between diverse populations, and celebrate everybody’s inclusion and participation and contribution, I mean we could have a really really good time and have a really great event,'” George said.
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Blerdcon has 30 featured guests, who are cosplayers, performers, celebrities, writers and artists. One of them is Ronald Seaman, an army veteran with combat injuries that put him in a wheelchair. His cosplay character is Iron-Merman, a cross between a mermaid and super hero. Seaman will teach a class on cosplay at Blerdcon.
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“We create the stage so that people can feel comfortable to go and do what they want to do and share themselves,” George said.
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Blerdcon runs through Sunday at the Hyatt Crystal City in Arlington, Virgina. Go <a href="http://blerdcon.com/" target="_blank">here</a> for tickets and more information.
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