If you’ve ever attended a fan convention, then you’ve probably heard of cosplay. It’s when fans dress up as their favorite characters—mostly for fun. It’s a display of passion and community, one in which a lot of effort is put into crafting the perfect costume. But if you’re dark-skinned like me, it doesn’t take very long for you to realize there’s a pretty significant hurdle to get over before you can start: a lot of the superheroes you may have grown up loving don’t look like you. They’re white. So what do you do?
You dress up like them anyway.
That’s the point of #28DaysOfBlackCosplay, a Twitter hashtag started in celebration of Black History Month. Black cosplayers are now flooding social media with photos of themselves dressed as their favorite heroes, regardless of color. Organized by cosplayer Chaka Cumberbatch—who wrote about her experiences with people upset about her cosplaying outside of her race last year.
In an email to EW, Chaka explained that this is part of what inspired the hashtag:
#28DaysOfBlackCosplay was born from the desire to foster a sense of pride, unity and community among black cosplayers. Black cosplayers are a group of people who are used to being made fun of, shut out and passed over, even as cosplay as a whole has gained more mainstream acceptance – cosplay is still just not “something you do” as a black person … It’s like the hashtag became a rallying cry – everyone wanted to participate.
It’s been so incredible, heartwarming and inspiring to see all the different pictures and stories. Even more amazing is hearing from people who were too nervous to cosplay before this – but upon seeing all the different examples of black cosplay, are excited about joining in now. If we’ve encouraged even one person to try cosplay for the very first time, then that in and of itself makes this whole thing completely worth it to me, you know?
Check out the hashtag on Twitter to see what people have shared so far. There’s lots more to come. February’s just getting started.