Granted, I used to be one of those black nerds who hated the concept of swag. It felt as though women were into bad boys and not men of substance. I eventually grew out of that mentality. Personality goes a long way, so I can no longer hate the importance of swag.

What bothers me the most is when black boys lose their swag once assimilated in white spaces. I noticed a sitcom generation of swagless black boys. Granted, my desire to see coolness is not based off of fitting into a stereotypical black identity. Rather, I am searching for the perfect mix of brains and brawns.

In white media, black boys are tokenized. They are granted a blessing and a curse. Black boys are written to be smart, yet socially awkward, bullied by a white character and often sacrificing themselves for a white lead.

In Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, Cookie is the token black student. Despite his ingenious inventions, he is cursed with the life of bullying, as if it was funny seeing a black boy taken out of his element.

Why can’t black guys in white spaces be cool?

Swag is a part of black masculinity and by taking that away, the audience sees a black man who is safe in white spaces because he is a punching bag, and does not challenge the status quo. Black audiences receive this message as to avoid white spaces even more because they do not want to lose the respect from the black community.