This is what it’s really like to cosplay while black

This is what it’s really like to cosplay while black
Krissy Victory as D.Va from ‘Overwatch’
Source: Krissy Victory
Krissy Victory as D.Va from ‘Overwatch’
Source: Krissy Victory
opinion
Mic invites contributors and staff to offer commentary and context about news and timely issues.

Black cosplay should be inspiring.

Plenty of cosplayers get their chance to shine in magazines and music videos ... as long as they’re white. So, why don’t we see more cosplayers of color in prominent campaigns and photoshoots?

It’s time to shed some light on the racist world of cosplay.

Fair-skinned cosplayers are often featured in “best-of” cosplay roundups, while black cosplayers are routinely overlooked or disregarded because of their skin tone. The craftsmanship of the costume doesn’t even make it into the discussion. So instead of celebrating the art, black cosplayers are compared to fair-skinned cosplayers donning the same outfit and labeled as the “black version” of the character they dress up as.

Source: Mic/Krissy Victory

For a country that claims that it’s “post-racial,” it shouldn’t be nearly as common as it is for people of color to receive backlash for their cosplay. It shouldn’t be a given that people are going to say nasty things about how “dirty” black cosplayers look in a costume or how it’s “ruined” by their skin color.

In 2017, we often turn the other cheek and pretend systemic racism doesn’t exist in our community. But these kinds of incidents have caused some black cosplayers to abandon their art and the community altogether. It goes beyond frustration — it’s demoralizing to fight a system that was already bent on oppressing our voices.

When I cosplayed as Overwatch’s D.Va, I was bombarded with racist insults. But a fair-skinned cosplayer could easily cosplay as D.Va and be worshipped. No matter what I do, I’m going to be the black version of the character that I’m cosplaying as — not as good as someone who is fair-skinned.

Source: Mic/Krissy Victory

To be fair, it’s not always that bad. When I cosplayed as 2B from Nier: Automata, the game developer actually gave me a shoutout online. And it wasn’t just the developers. Popular YouTubers PewDiePie and Harley Plays liked my 2B cosplay too.

When a fair-skinned person breaks race barriers for cosplay they often get praised for it. But a dark-skinned cosplayer doing the same thing could be called an ape, or worse. It’s sad that my cosplay only gets noticed when I was being oppressed — which, by the way, is every time I cosplay as a character not from my race.

Kamikaze Miko Cosplay also got a lot of racist flack for cosplaying a black character from League of Legends. Angry fans decided to bombard her, calling her the N-word and a dirty monkey. She said she almost quit cosplay right then and there.

Source: Mic/Krissy Victory

As isolating as it is to be at the center of racist tweetstorms, we’re not giving up. The gaming and cosplay communities need to treat black cosplayers like me fairly. We should be featured at local stores and in magazines like Cosplay Culture Magazine and sites like Badass Cosplay.

We should be hosting shows like Heroes of Cosplay. We should be guests at conventions. Let’s see more black cosplayers getting E3 booth jobs and opportunities in the industry we’re already actively involved in.

There are so many talented cosplayers of color and no good reason we shouldn’t have the same shot at these opportunities.

Today, we are in the shadows, but there’s no reason we should have to work 10 times harder than everyone else just to get praised or even simply noticed. Enough is enough.

Source: Mic/Krissy Victory

Let it be normal to see black cosplayers front and center, shining as brightly as our fair-skinned counterparts. We should be bringing black cosplayers forward to stand in the spotlight.

If the cosplay community truly supported each other, leading with mutual respect instead of placing us on the back burner, there would be so much more to celebrate. We deserve more than segregation. We should be building up one another as a community, instead of judging one another by the color of our skin.

Events like “28 Days of Black Cosplay,” which is timed to coincide with Black History Month and celebrate and showcase cosplayers of color, is a good start but still not enough. It’s time to treat black cosplayers like human beings all year round. Not just when it’s convenient, and not as an afterthought.

More gaming news and updates

Check out the latest from Mic, like this essay about the sinister, subtle evils lurking in rural America that Far Cry 5 shouldn’t ignore. Also, be sure to read our review of Tekken 7, an article about D.Va’s influence on one Overwatch player’s ideas about femininity and an analysis of gaming’s racist habit of darkening villains’ skin tones.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Krissy Victory

Krissy Victory is a cosplayer and a gamer. For booking, jobs, appearances or general inquiries you can contact her at victorycosplay@gmail.com.

MORE FROM

Fans searched for years for aliens in 'Grand Theft Auto 5' – here's who finally found them

The story of how a group of determined individuals finally found aliens in 'Grand Theft Auto 5.'

'The Burning Crusade' private server Felmyst is the latest 'World of Warcraft' fanmade project to receive a takedown notice from

Blizzard has stepped in to shut down a fanmade 'World of Warcraft' legacy server called Felmyst.

Walmart set SNES Classic preorders live unexpectedly last night, and some customers are complaining of cancellations

Walmart suddenly set preorders for the SNES Classic live last night, and left us with a lot of questions.

Take advantage of this 'Pokémon Go' gift box sale to stock up on essential items

There's a big sale going on in 'Pokémon Go' right now, so you should get in on it!

‘Pokémon Go’ Fest plagued by connectivity issues as players boo Niantic CEO

'Pokémon Go' Fest in Chicago's Grant Park is being plagued by mobile connectivity and game server issues. Here's what fans have to say.

Is 'Final Fantasy 16' coming out anytime soon?

When might we see more on 'Final Fantasy 16?' Is the game on its way out?

Fans searched for years for aliens in 'Grand Theft Auto 5' – here's who finally found them

The story of how a group of determined individuals finally found aliens in 'Grand Theft Auto 5.'

'The Burning Crusade' private server Felmyst is the latest 'World of Warcraft' fanmade project to receive a takedown notice from

Blizzard has stepped in to shut down a fanmade 'World of Warcraft' legacy server called Felmyst.

Walmart set SNES Classic preorders live unexpectedly last night, and some customers are complaining of cancellations

Walmart suddenly set preorders for the SNES Classic live last night, and left us with a lot of questions.

Take advantage of this 'Pokémon Go' gift box sale to stock up on essential items

There's a big sale going on in 'Pokémon Go' right now, so you should get in on it!

‘Pokémon Go’ Fest plagued by connectivity issues as players boo Niantic CEO

'Pokémon Go' Fest in Chicago's Grant Park is being plagued by mobile connectivity and game server issues. Here's what fans have to say.

Is 'Final Fantasy 16' coming out anytime soon?

When might we see more on 'Final Fantasy 16?' Is the game on its way out?