How Dare A Black Cosplayer Take On A “White” Character?

The characters are not real people.

The characters are not real people.

Read this over at Racialicious. What a very interesting and thought-provoking piece. It is something I can relate to because my kids are somewhat into cosplay. Here is an excerpt:

Once upon a time, I inadvertently started a cosplay race war on Tumblr. Whoops.

So, here’s the deal: I’m a cosplayer. If you don’t already know one of us in person, (and you probably do–we’reeverywhere) you’ve probably seen people like me on the news–all dolled up in a rainbow of face paint and eye-popping wigs, 50 shades of spandex, and skyscraper shoes, for the sake of expressing love for and bringing our favorite characters to life at sci-fi, comic book, video game, and anime conventions.

Since I started cosplaying in 2008, I’ve traveled the country, hitting up as many cons as financially possible, all the while making incredible friends, unforgettable memories, and lugging hard-to-get-through-airport-security props along the way. (Have you ever tried to fly with a dress made out of plastic bubbles? Fun fact: you can’t. But you can ship it to your hotel!)

Here’s the second deal: I’m also black. Which is fine by most everyone…until I have the audacity to cosplay a character who isn’t.

After my pictures started making the rounds on deviantArt, Tumblr, and 4chan, it became pretty clear that my cosplay brings all the racists to the yard, and they’re, like, white cosplay is better than yours…

What kills me is that, in person, nobody has the balls to say a word about whether or not they think darker-skinned people should cosplay lighter skinned characters–but online is a completely different animal. Online, I was “Nigger Venus,” and “Sailor Venus Williams” because I am black.

My nose was too wide, lips were too big; I had a “face like a gorilla” and wasn’t suited for such a cute character….because I am black. My wig was too blonde, my wig wasn’t blonde enough, or, my wig was “ghetto” because I was making it “ghetto,” by being black and having it on my head.

And furthermore, if I was going to insist on “ruining characters,” I could have at least picked one with black hair so it looked more “natural.” I should have worn blue contacts–but if I had, it would have looked “ghetto.” Because I am black.

The depths that the insults sink to are enough to scare many interested cosplayers away from even trying. I had an Indian friend who refused to cosplay anything other than Indian characters after watching the way people tore into my costumes online…
Wow. But trust me as someone who goes to Comic Con, the big daddy of all cos-play events, every year with my kids, who participate in the role playing themselves, this stuff is a BIG deal. It is also when you most wish there were more comic book characters of other colors for kids of color to choose from. But even if there were, people should be allowed to play Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman or whomever, regardless of how much they look like the character.Kudos to the young woman in the article for being so strong.
Here is the full article. It is really worth the read.


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16 thoughts on “How Dare A Black Cosplayer Take On A “White” Character?

  1. I think she’s beautiful! I wish I looked that good in spandex! O.O

  2. ericjbaker says:

    She’s pretty adorable. Don’t listen to the idiots out there! They are a very vocal minority.

    • Earnest Harris says:

      Absolutely right.

      • ericjbaker says:

        I followed the link to the article with the other pics. She looks fantastic in all of them. People disgust me. I wish I could meet her and encourage her to not let people’s hatred become a seed in her mind. I hope she responds by keep doing what she does, with pride.

      • Earnest Harris says:

        And you can tell she takes such pride in playing the characters. It is so awful people are so small minded that they want to rain on that, because a fantasy character in a comic book was drawn to look a certain way. So all minority kids (and adults) are supposed to forget about playing the fantasy according to these people. So stupid in so many ways.

      • ericjbaker says:

        I responded to this with a post of my own. You probably figured that out because of the ping back.

      • Earnest Harris says:


  3. She is awesome. Where was she when I was single and younger lol. Trying to look at it from the other side though, I wonder how minorities would feel about a White person cosplaying (did I use that right?) as a Black or Latino character? No matter, everyone is a brave racist when they are safely behind a monitor so she shouldn’t pay them any mind.

  4. Reblogged this on BlackNEKS – Keeping it Rugged and commented:
    Blacknek take:
    I need to add the Racelicious blog to my favorites. We definitely more of us getting into the cosplay scene.

  5. […] friend Earnest Harris blogged about her a day and a half ago, and when I read of the incident he described, I just couldn’t let it go. It […]

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