Halloween is literally just around the corner, and I have a few thoughts to offer about the some of the hypocritical behavior that is racism in cosplay.
The issues of racism in cosplay have been at the forefront of news from the Con worlds lately. People are choosing to cosplay characters of a different race than their own by doing so in blackface or changing their own skin color with make-up to match that of the character they’re trying to portray. There are also people choosing to portray historical figures who were notorious for their racial crimes:
- Certain colonial leaders.
- Certain politicians.
- The KKK.
People choosing to portray stereotypes:
- Jim Crow
- “Aunt Jemima” (a Mammy stereotype character used in advertising)
There are the ones that might be intentionally offensive, or they might just be ignorant:
- The white boy wearing make-up to darken his skin color and getting a fade cut and tight jeri curl perm so he can “BE” Blade.
- The African-American girl straightening her hair and dying it blonde to go with her Buffy the Vampire Slayer white skin make-up and stake prop.
- The white girl dyeing her blonde hair black and using makeup to color her skin to be Pocahontas.
- The Chinese kid wearing a yarmulke and speaking English with a bad Yiddish accent.
- The blonde-haired, blue-eyed teenage girl who dressed as Hitler (yes, I’ve actually seen this one).
- The little white kid who said his dad told him he was just a ghost with a pointy head and a belt to hold his guts in (saw this too).
|Example A of “How to Cosplay Another Race Without Being a Jackhole”|
And before we hear the usual “Well, what about dressing up as a blue character? Is that racist?” argument: Sci-Fi/Fantasy characters are subject to somewhat less hypocrisy, given the fact that there are characters that aren’t of the Human race. Of course, there’s a whole galaxy of fictional characters to cosplay. A whole universe of Rodians, Gungans, Bothans, Martians, Eletians, Klingons, Daleks, Andorians, and Borg. Most Star Trek and Star Wars races are largely humanoid, and generally the race isn’t necessarily defined by skin color. For example – the Bajorans are a humanoid race. They look human, except for the nose ridges and the ears. They are not all of the same skin color, but they are the same race. Painting yourself up to be a character from an alien race isn’t offensive because those races are fictional. You’re not actually hurting anyone with your actions.