NOTE: An updated, more detailed version of this piece can be found on the Huffinton Post.
Know what happens sometimes when you speak up against actual bullshit in the cosplay community that nobody wants to talk about in hopes that the issue will resolve itself without any real effort on anyone’s part? You get swarmed and trolled by racists while being called a bully (by people attempting to bully you) all for saying that blackface (and any other [race]facing) is ugly, insensitive, and unnecessary. For half a week now, this has been my reality. Luckily, I have relatively thick skin, so the harassment is more annoying for me than anything else. How’d it all start?
I saw a post in which a girl was cosplaying Candela (team Valor’s Pokemon Go gym leader).
1. Ugly – It really is. Shit rarely ever looks good or natural. It’s aesthetically offputting and startling in unpleasant ways. Your cosplay looks way better without it. Unless you’re going for a character with fantasy tone like red, or blue, etc. just rock out in the skin you’re in!
2. Insensitive – Even if your intentions are pure, you have to understand that due to the history behind things such as blackface, yellowface, redface, etc., it’s bound to rub many people the wrong way. Real people’s skintones aren’t cosplay props or costumes. I cited her Candela as an example, as seen below:
This resulted in many people agreeing, a handful disagreeing, and eventually the cosplayer herself telling me how much she doesn’t give a shit if anyone finds it wrong or offensive, demanding that I remove the post, as shown below. While I did apologize to her if she felt bothered by it, I explained to her that I would not be taking down my post.
As you can see, I told her that her decision to blackface anyway is fine (in the sense that she has to deal with the consequences and I’m not gonna lose sleep over it). And it is. I can’t make anyone change and I don’t have it in me to force it.
My stance on the issue is that it’s insensitive and ugly (it really never looks right). Cosplay whoever you want. I don’t care if white people wanna cosplay black characters. I’ve cosplayed white and Asian characters. Anyone should be able to cosplay who they want. My issue wasn’t that she was white cosplaying Candela. It was that she decided to slather herself in dark makeup, knowing it was something that many take offense to. Even when people gave her the benefit of the doubt, she lashed out and said she doesn’t give a fuck. My post was eventually removed from Facebook because she reported it (nevermind that Facebook hasn’t removed any of the porn pages I’ve reported ¯\_(ツ)_/¯).
Moving on, I made another post in which I restated my stance on blackface without referring her or anyone else other than myself. I said that I’ve never personally experienced anyone failing to recognize what character I was going for, even when I’ve cosplayed non-black characters. I also mentioned that I placed in a contest as Harley Quinn, “who is quite literally right,” and I didn’t have to paint my skin in an effort to look like a white girl to do it. It was on this post that she and several of her friends decided to spam my page in defense of blackface, calling me a bully, saying that me winning “some low contest” doesn’t mean anything, and hurling other pettiness and insults my way.
These are just a few screenshots. At the time of writing, I’m still having to ban people from my page who are leaving petty insults and telling me that I’m:
1. Racist (for saying anyone can cosplay whoever they want without doing something as problematic as black facing???)
2. Ugly (I mean that’s subjective, but I think I’m pretty cute)3. A filthy lying irrational cunt??? (Idk where I lied, but ok)
It’s ridiculous. I’m tired of everyone ignoring the elephants in the room when it comes to cosplay. It shouldn’t be controversial for anyone to say that black facing (or any other “race facing”) is kind of a shitty thing to do and doesn’t have a place in cosplay, and yet I’m current being cyber bullied over it. I’ve seen the same thing happen to countless others who bring up race and other touchy issues in the community, no matter how calm or careful they may be. We try to pretend like nerds are more accepting than “mainstream” society, but we’re not separate or special. We are subject to the same highs and lows as any other subculture. We cannot continue to ignore discrimination and insensitive behavior based on someone’s color, race, size, gender, etc. and try to excuse it. We can’t bully those with enough courage to address it by saying that they’re the problem. Speaking up about something that is wrong is not bullying. Trying to silence people when they’re telling you “hey, this bothers me and isn’t ok” isn’t what we should be doing, nor is pretending cosplay and nerd culture don’t have issues and lashing out at the wrong people. We should be listening and trying to understand one another. Not turning a blind eye to bullshit and getting mad at people who point it out. We gotta do better, guys.
I’ve received so much racist and idiotic hate mail and harassment on my page in the last two days that it’s unbelievable. I’m not sorry for making my statement about blackface. If you think I’m a bully, you are mistaken. Holding people accountable when they do something wrong is not the same thing as hurting innocent people who are minding their own business and haven’t harmed anyone. I think a lot of people in the cosplay community have forgotten the difference between the two, but I’m confident we can get to a better place, and that there are more good people than bad.
PS: Here are two resources that do a decent job of explaining why blackface is unnecessary and insensitive for anyone interested: