Don't Paint It Black
written by Jordan Renee
I’m very new to the cosplay to the cosplay community, with only 2 years experience I find myself learning how to function in different cosplay social circles where I find myself feeling like the new kid at school. Not sure where I fit in, not sure who to hang out with.
Now recently I’ve come across the conversation about black face, in cosplay community. I’ve found myself correcting and educating people in the community. The conversation is nothing new, and if you know the history of this country. Black face in this country is a painful part our nations history that many don’t like to address (or just completely ignore because; y’know white people) and it gained it’s popularity in the 19th century amongst vaudeville and minstrel shows, which were deemed a national art of the time. White people dressed up and performed as stereotypical caricatures of black people. That was the 19th Century.
In 2015, I can’t go on social media without seeing a cosplayer that I know or have admired in the past use tanner or make up to make themselves look darker for “character accuracy”. I cosplayed Bulma from Dragon Ball, and I feel like I was pretty damn accurate. You knew that I was Bulma because of the wig, the dress, and my overall snarky attitude.I didn’t need to lighten my skin for you to get that I was that character. But if someone who wasn’t black decided to cosplay as Garnet or Storm, darkened their skin for character accuracy, it still wouldn’t be accurate because you yourself aren’t black, that person has the privilege to take that make up off and live their lives as a non-poc (person of color) while I still have to live in this as a black woman, with the history of discrimination and racism. What it boils down to is my culture isn’t a costume. If you believe that we live in a post racial society you’re wrong, we live in a time where we debate the use of the n word, the confederate flag is being used as a fashion statement and the KKK is still an active organization. Donning black face is just as hurtful.
As I write this I know that it won’t sink in for everyone and that it may fall on deaf ears, but I ask you to do your research, ask questions, and correct your peers if they do decide to tan. If we want this community to be safe and as warm as we’d like to think it is, we truly have to start acting like it.