Racism and Cosplaying… Such a Thing Exists?

My first convention was Animazement 98. I had so much fun there. It’s where I discovered costume play aka cosplay. The following year, I cosplayed Ranma Saotome and did my first skit with a longtime cosplay friend, Derek Rich. Since then, I’ve gone to many conventions, did a lot of cosplays, and a lot of skits. Very fun times they were.

One day at dinner with some friends, the topic of discussion went to cosplaying. One of them said that I should be proud as a forerunner and a leader in black cosplaying. My thoughts? “Uhm, I guess? I’m just doing what’s fun.” I have participated in various panels about black and minority cosplaying. I’ve always said that the only problem that I have ever had was if I should remove my glasses when posing for photos. I always believed that skin color doesn’t matter, just as long as you played the part well.

Perhaps times have changed.

I recently read an article on Nerd Caliber about racism and cosplay. The writer states that during his time as a cosplay photographer that he’s never come across anything of the like until recently when he viewed some of the comments he’s seen on their YouTube channel.

Racism? With black cosplayers? Forgive me for falling off the turnip truck but what the heck?

The thought of people telling black cosplayers they could not cosplay certain characters really didn’t cross my mind. And if it did, I never thought of it as a big deal. I’ve always had nothing but positive comments about my cosplays. The only time I ever heard of anyone saying that black people and other minorities shouldn’t cosplay is on 4chan. But I can’t say that’s a viable source because most of the people are saying it in spite of you, so it doesn’t count.

Or does it?

After talking to two friends on Twitter (thank you Ashley and Chris), I’ve come to the conclusion that it does count, and what I thought was isolated to 4chan seems to be spreading to YouTube pages as well. But when you think about it, people commenting on sites like that don’t even hold much weight… In my mind’s eye I never considered it along the lines of racism, because there was no legit backing of those comments… But I realized, you don’t have to have legit reasons to be a racist.

I originally wrote this as a rebuttal to Nerd Caliber’s article because I thought it was crazy that people would think such a thing towards black cosplayers existed. But the truth is that just because you don’t experience it yourself, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

This is more of an eye opener for me. Perhaps I should expound deeper into this. But what would that prove though? Nothing if you ask me, and I’m not going to post pictures of black cosplayers to prove my point. You can visit one of my many photo galleries to see that if it’s such a concern.

Overall, what I’m saying is that it isn’t crazy to think that there isn’t racism towards black and other minorities in cosplay. But if someone is being prejudice towards you (doesn’t matter what your race, creed, etc… is), ignore it. Don’t let what someone said out of spite stop you from doing what you enjoy and love. If I actually let what people said to me out of spite get to me, I would have stopped cosplaying a long time ago.

DJ Ranma S

DJ Ranma S is cosplay veteran. He has won numerous performance awards with his friends over the years. He has staffed conventions in the past, ran panels, judged a couple of masquerades, a jack of all trades. He's worked dealer's room too! Running this site is his way of giving back to the cosplay community. He feels that it's his turn to give a future cosplayer their fifteen minutes of fame.

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