Interesting essay from David Adewumi on Why Black Nerds Are Unpopular. My observation on nerdism and popularity, based on going to school in three different continents, is that “nerds” are an American invention. Popularity, or lack thereof, is of course universal, but being a social outcast due to intelligence is mostly American.
In Iran, for example, I’d say it was much closer to “winners” and “losers”. The smartest kids were often also the popular kids, and they also often participated in sports. My main arch-nemesis in school (later my best friend) was not only one of the top students, but also our best athlete. Being smart was not a detriment to popularity.
In England I remember learning the concept of “nerd” from America sitcoms, and being mostly puzzled. I only went to school for three years there and even that in a private school, so I can’t vouch for general public schools, but I don’t think the concept of nerd is very strong there either. Being popular or unpopular certainly exists, but intelligence doesn’t carry the kind of stigma it does in the US.