Feb 16 2015

The Nerd Couch: Every Hero Needs A Black Dad


Joe Flash

That’s right! Every hero needs a Black Dad. That is, if you are Barry Allen on CW’s THE FLASH and your surrogate father is Det. Joe West.  If you are one of the geeks that haven’t caught the new hit series then here is a quick summery to get what I’m talking about.

The show starts off with Barry Allen (played by Grant Gustin) loses seeing his mother get murdered by some streaking object.  His father Henry Allen is blamed and is carted off to jail.  Incidentally, Henry is played by John Wesley Shipp, who played The Flash in the 90s series.  Henry’s good friend Joe West (played by Jesse L. Martin) takes Barry into his home while he investigates the murder.  Cut to Barry all grown up and working in the police department where Joe is a detective.

I hope I didn’t spoil too much for you.



Now the show is great for comic and non-comic nerds alike because it has cool effects, great villains and most of all – interesting relationships.  And one of the best relationships is the one between Barry and Joe.  In the absence of his real dad, Joe has become a surrogate father to Barry. Jesse Martin plays the character with much emotional range and brings to life the role of Joe as a truly caring father figure and mentor to Barry.  Joe loves Barry like a son and Barry loves him back.



Now for all you geeks out there, you might not have the speed force, or a Black dad detective to come to your rescue.  But I bet you can find a mentor that can give you some support and a moral compass to help you tread through the rough waters of life.



Every geek needs a mentor geek that accepts them and understands them, but also can teach them about life and help them grow.  So where and how are you supposed to find such a mentor?  And yes, they don’t have to be Black, or a father figure for that matter.  Your mentor or mentors can have any background, be any race, gender or religion and still be a positive force.  They don’t even have to fully understand all the passions you have geekdom.  The important thing is that a mentor understands you and gives you insight and encouragement. Joe is far from a scientist, but supports Barry’s love of science all the same.

If you don’t already realize it, you probably have a mentor by just going to school or university.  A particular teacher or professor probably has started to fill that role for you.  To make them even more of a mentor, stay a little longer after class.  Let them know your plans for your future (if you have any) or tell them why you are interested in a certain subject.  They will either take interest in what you have to say, or give you some advice.  Don’t stalk your mentors though.  Give them some breathing room and don’t infringe on their time.  It only takes a few minutes and some encouraging words to set you on your nerdy way to success.  Don’t over use those moments.

You can also find mentors at your job.  Internships are one of the very best ways to find a mentor. Also in a club, meet-up or organization that you have joined.  Just remember, you can talk about your aspirations, but stay sensitive to the feeling that you might be using up their time or patience. Finding a mentor is about relationship building.  Barry and Joe had over ten years to build their father and son like bond.



And if you can’t find a mentor that you can directly talk to in person over lunch, try encouraging book authors, blogs, podcasts, documentaries, Youtube or other sources where people you admire are giving great advice on life and how to do what they do.

I have several mentors that don’t even know that I exist. They are writers and directors and others that have gained a level of success or an outlook on life that I can connect to.  I just read, listen or watch videos about how they got there.  Their stories are encouraging and keep me going.

And what about family?  Barry and Joe are family.  But sometimes a geek finds it hard to connect with others in their family.  Sure your family loves you, but they might not understand why you dress up in medieval clothes and go out to pretend battle your friends in the park.  They also might not know the meaning of you tapping on the computer keyboard all day, trying to learn to code instead of going out partying or something. But every now and then you come across a family member that is into some ‘different’ things just like you, or they used to be.  I had an uncle that built model speedboats and I loved it.  And he liked all the nerdy things that I got into as a kid.  They might not be into computers, but if you talk to them you will find that they played with electronic sets when they were younger.  Or they may have been artists that penciled superheroes but stopped when they got older.  They may not be a geek on the service, but those old passions are probably still there.  They may love what you are doing when everybody else in the clan just thinks that comic collection is kind of childish.  I mean, how can they not realize the value of a McFarlane Spiderman #1? Anyway, talk to your relative and see if there is a mentoring geek among them.

Wells Flash


One last word: make sure the person you choose as a mentor looks at life about the same way that you do.  What I mean is, if you are a fairly honest person, make sure your mentor is not a get-over artist.  They might seem like they have a lot to offer in lessons and experience, but you don’t want someone teaching you how not to be yourself. A perfect example again is THE FLASH where Barry also looks up to Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavenagh) who’s experiment gave Barry his powers.  Let’s just say that Wells has a schemey side that may not be all that great for Barry.  That’s all the spoiler you need.

Have you found a mentor? Where or how?


About the author

Geek Soul Brother

Puttin' the Funk in the Final Frontier! A Christian time-travelin' brother from the 70s. Loves Scifi, Fantasy, Horror.

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