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If you’ve made it past the title then it’s safe to assume you’re either curious or think this article is about something COMPLETELY different then what I am about to explain.
I’m here, yet again, to talk about white people. White cosplayers. Just, WHITENESS and how somehow, no matter how much I write, we seem stagnant in our attempt to “Do better” as community. Don’t believe me? Let's recap 2018...
2018 was the longest and shortest year yet. We started off with the premier of Black Panther in February. It made A BILLION dollars and Hollywood was surprised to see a predominately black movie do so well. White people (*disclaimer: not all but enough) responded to the success with fake reports of POC attacking them at the theater, posting fake bruises from “fights with black people who wouldn’t let me see the movie,” and other white-nanigans (it’s like shenanigans but for white people).
Fast-forward to con-season (May) and white cosplayers wanted to cosplay from Black Panther, but were uneasy because for once they weren’t the dominant skin color and culture of a movie. I appreciated the hesitation but some of y'all decided to dip into the brown paint and ushered in the conversation of “Why can’t I pretend to be a race for my cosplay?” Short answer—don't do this. Long answer—why are we still having this conversation?
Some other white-nanigans happened—voice actress for Overwatch’s Sombra tweeted an ignorant response over a cosplayer who darkened their skin (outside of their natural skin tone) for the sake of “accuracy” and her apology was slow coming.
Halloween was ROUGH with Alamo City Comic Con’s cosplay contest host coming out on stage as the character Powerline from A Goofy Movie in blackface. Then if that wasn’t bad enough, NBC’s show “Megyn Kelly Show” got cancelled over her comments about black face for your Halloween costume. Quick recap on that—"white face" isn't a thing and I reiterate again—DON'T PRETEND TO BE A RACE FOR A COSTUME.
AND THEN, white people lost their damn minds when Al Roker dressed up as Doc from Back to the Future and accused him of “white face.”
White people - I. AM. TIRED.
As a cosplayer and a woman of color—a BLACK CARIBBEAN woman—seeing all of this nonsense go down this year is discouraging, exhausting, and downright hurtful and I didn’t even cover everything! It wears on my soul to see how far we haven’t come when it comes to the topic of race, costumes, and what is and isn’t acceptable. I’ve personally written articles and made videos and held Facebook Live Ted Talks in the hopes I could somehow educate the masses, but I can’t anymore. It takes up too much of my emotional and physical energy. My white sisters and brothers, listen:
IT’S OKAY TO JUST BE WHITE
You don’t have to wear blackface—you REALLY don’t—to be recognized as a black character. You DO NOT have to represent every minority group when we exist already. You DON’T have to call out black people for white face—we don’t do that (okay, we did, but it was like five comedians and ya’ll still haven’t let it go)—and you DON’T have to worry about tanning and being called out for black face. People tan, it's a thing. What people DON'T do is go from German fair skinned and pale to Ethiopian DARK.
Do better in 2019. Follow my “How to Be an Ally to Your POC Cosplayers” tips and if you’re not sure about something, ASK. Use Google—it’s what it was made for. Ask Alexa—she should know. Go to your local library and read a book. And if all else fails, ask a friend, message me, but enough with the ignorant “I didn’t know” or “No one told me”—we did. We have. We’re tired. As a community we’re burnt out and 2019 we’re just #blocking folks at this point.
I know my tone comes across as harsh, but just try to understand how exhausting it is to see the same nonsense go down and get the same, ignorant response. It’s like having an open wound with various people putting salt in it while another group of people curb stomp you.
It isn’t fun.
I want the cosplay community to be a safe space for all of us but we can’t do that when POC cosplayers are being dragged for being “the wrong color for that cosplay” all while white cosplayers are being praised for “being accurate.” EVEN AS I WRITE THIS yet another POC cosplayer got attacked for cosplaying Isabelle from Animal Crossing.
Do better. Not just for my sake but your own. We don’t want 2019 to be #blockt 2k19 but we will if we have to.