Last week, we posted about a touchy subject having to do with race and cosplay. We then reached out and asked a few fellow cosplayers to weigh in on the topic and here are some of the responses we got:
I love going to conventions and they are the one place where I feel I can belong. It’s a place where, when I begin to talk to someone about anime or sci-fi, they don’t give me a blank look or just see me as another black girl that’s into something weird. When I first started cosplaying, I had a very different view then I do know. Now I break all the rules because I mostly cosplay Japanese male characters. The first time I cosplayed it was the character Yoruichi Shihouin from the anime series Bleach. While I was walking around and talking to other cosplayers I noticed a trend.
There aren’t very many black characters in anime, much less anything else on tv, and 9 times out of 10, they’re stereotyped. Not only that, when I see black cosplayers, they tend to limit themselves to those few characters, wishing to do other characters only to be confronted with negativity. I can’t even remember the number of times I’ve heard “You can’t cosplay him/her. You’re black!” or “You look great for a black girl!” The irony is that most of the time I heard this was from Caucasian men and women who cosplay Japanese animation characters….
Conventions for me are my vacations from reality. They’re supposed to be a safe haven for ALL people. It’s a celebration of geek culture, and last place I should be judged for my skin. I already deal with that on a daily basis. For a while, it was getting pretty bad when a new younger group of people started to invade conventions. A lot of it was naivety because they didn’t quite understand the culture and etiquette of being at a geek convention.
Over the years, I’ve gotten less racial trouble, but it’s still a problem where a lot of black cosplayers confide in me about the issues that they have to deal with and it’s unnecessary. I always tell people, no matter their skin tone or gender, if you love the character do it. It doesn’t matter the gender, race, weight, height, whatever. If you love that character with your heart, you should cosplay it.
Playing Dr. Strange has been an interesting journey especially when the Avengers Vs X-men was in development. Marvel had reached out to me for a cosplay photo shoot depicting the character mentioned. Once the photo shoot was published on their website I received a mix of comments. While some couldn’t argue my costume being spot on, my color was another matter. The reoccurring message was, ” Dr. Strange is white; you don’t see us playing Blade or Black Panther you should stay in your lane.”. At first I was disheartened. However a fury of anger enveloped me. As a result I resolved to be whomever I wanted be regardless of race. During my time of cosplaying, I’ve been White, Japanese, Chinese, Alien & Black or whomever I wanted to be because I loved the character!
The main issues I’ve personally had was wearing an elaborate costume, and having to deal with idiots who can’t keep their hands to themselves. One example was when I cosplayed Perfect Cell from Dragonball Z. I had people tackle glomp me, and destroyed my wings and arm pieces.
I also had people constantly try to fight me because of the character, not play-fight mind you, like actually wanting to fight me. My Optimus Prime costume is currently on hiatus because it needs repairs. Just at Katsucon, someone decided it would be a good idea to jump on me, knocking me down, and splitting my chest armor in half. I’ve lost count how many times I had to repair costumes because of morons who can’t keep their hands to themselves.
And it seems to be people from a rival fandom. Bleach fans for some reason always like to pick fights with DBZ fans, One Piece Fans, and Naruto fans. This one guy tried to attack me with his sword, all because of who I was cosplaying as.