The cosplay community is full of creative and nerdy individuals who love to come together to embrace their fellow nerds in fandom shenanigans. As much as the community embraces our differences, we still aren’t exempt from issues like racism and colorism and other -isms/phobias. There have been too many occasions when a POC (person of color or NON-white) cosplayer dresses up as a non-white character and get told their skin color is “too dark for that cosplay.” There have been cases of white (or Non-POC) cosplayers darkening their skin for the sake of “cos-accuracy” which the POC community has already expressed how harmful the practice is but people still do it.
If you’ve read any of my past articles, my tone has always attempted at educating and calling out cosplayers who don’t understand or just ignore why people are complaining, but this time I wanted to share how NON-POC cosplayers can help their POC cosplayers.
Being a woman of color is exhausting. Being a NERDY woman of color is down right tiring. There are so many issues to call out and the same issues get re-discussed because someone missed the the open invite to the last Ted Talk. People forget that it is NOT every POC’s responsibility to call out racism and colorism. We do because it directly affects us, but we want to have fun, too without getting into a political debate on why mermaids can’t be black (fun fact, they can).
So, what can you—my NON-POC cosplayer sisters and brothers—do to help us, POC cosplayers, still fight racism and colorism without exhausting ourselves? Below is a list of ways you can help POC cosplayers. These heavily suggested methods come straight from other POC cosplayers and help A LOT.
Use all methods or just the ones you feel comfortable with. Share with your friends and family and help us combat racism and colorism so we can all spend more time focusing on serious issues like, “How will Voltron season 8 end?” or “Will we get a third Guardians of the Galaxy movie?” or even “What’s the airspeed velocity of an African swallow compared to a European swallow?” I need answers…
How to Be an Ally to your POC Cosplayers:
- Suggest cosplay ideas based off of personality, interest, style, etc but NOT skin tone. POC are tired of hearing people suggest, “You should cosplay Storm!” because we’re dark.
- Call out discrimination when you see it. If you see a convention with ZERO POC cosplay guests email them suggesting some. POC cosplayers always have less followers compared to their NON-POC cosplayers due to discrimination, lack of exposure, and straight up exclusion
- Support POC cosplayers by sharing their photos! If you see a Black Tony Stark, don’t suggest for the cosplayer to do Falcon or War Machine. Appreciate the difference. Like and share the difference
- “If you think it’s black face, it is black face.” Everybody has a natural tan range. Some of us are super light in the Winter and noticeably darker in the Summer, but NO ONE can go from “White skin with a light tan” to “African from Ethiopia” dark. If you think it’s blackface, don’t share it. Do some research about the cosplayer to confirm they did black face then find an actual POC cosplayer and share their cosplay instead
- Speaking of blackface, DON’T DO IT. If your friend thinks “My cosplay would look better if I looked like a black woman” sit down and talk with them. Hide the brown foundation. But DON’T encourage them.
- Report racist/colorist comments. We can yell at inappropriate behavior on the internet until the end of time, but the best thing to do when you see “This cosplay would look better if she wasn’t black” is report it. It’s harder to troll people when your page is mass reported and your account is locked for a month.
- Accept the fact that, as a white cosplayer/NON-POC cosplayer, you have privilege. No one is going to look at you and say, “WOW! It’s a white Naruto!” You’ll be viewed as a Naruto cosplayer. Use that same language towards your POC cosplayers. Instead of saying, “WOW! You did a great Black Mizore,” say, “Wow! Great Mizore.”
- As always, embrace the difference that our community brings by sharing POC cosplayers social media pages. Follow some yourself and for every NON-POC cosplayer follow two POC cosplayers.
There are more than eight ways to be an ally to your POC cosplayers—feel free to make a suggestion. If you are a NON-POC cosplayer and have a question, feel free to message me and ask.
The cosplay community is amazingly accepting but we still have issues to work through. Together we can work to solve these issues and have a truly diverse and accepting community that everyone can enjoy.