The word "cosplay" was created as an abbreviation for costume role-play in 1984, by Nobuyuki Takahashi at The World Science Convention. The practice of costume role-play goes back many years further, as early as the 15th century. As pop culture and nerd culture become more and more synonymous as the years pass, the cosplay community is receiving more attention and acceptance in mainstream media, especially amongst people who haven't always been aware, or understanding, of the medium of expression.
But in the last decade, even within the genre itself, there have been growing pains affecting the community, especially when it comes to cosplayers of color. Nerd culture doesn't exist in a vacuum, like any other sub-genre or fan community, and the concepts of prejudice and racism may very well run deeper in this group than most. Black cosplayers, and other cosplayers of color, have often received backlash for dressing as characters that originally don't match their skin tone – which is obviously ridiculous. And in the very recent past, the coined phrase, "cosplaying while black", has become a staple precursor for a horror story about a cosplayer of color receiving said discrimination for just existing as a human being in the cosplay community. Because people of color dressing up as characters originally portrayed as white people is somehow destroying the sacred art of cosplay, but black face is cool. Right?
Luckily, the power of social media, and the resilience that comes with blackness when we all are born, has made it possible to uplift our brothers and sisters in cosplay. And we have @Princessology to thank for creating the movement, #28DaysOfBlackCosplay. She started the hashtag just two years ago, and every Black History Month since has been bigger and better, with more innovative and dedicated cosplayers of color getting involved every time.
This year, every single day had a theme to promote participation from black cosplayers all over the globe.
And the people did not disappoint. Here's a taste of some of the amazing cosplay action from this year's #28DaysofBlackCosplay.
— ☆*alien mom@London*☆ (@afrokhaleesi) March 2, 2017
— Dee | Cookie Monsta (@ByDEEzine) February 28, 2017
— Cosplay City (@cosplaycitymag) February 26, 2017
— Bishop Cosplay (@BishopCosplay) February 23, 2017
— Channing Sherman (@channingsherman) February 23, 2017
— ShazzaCatLady (@CatladyShazza) February 23, 2017
— Eric Molinsky (@emolinsky) February 23, 2017
— ✨Majokko Misu✨ (@msndonnarussell) February 19, 2017
— Monique H-H (@SimplyRobotix) February 17, 2017
— Dr. LAW's Photolab (@drlawsphotolab) February 16, 2017
— Mj Cosplay (@MjCosplay) February 16, 2017
— ShazzaCatLady (@CatladyShazza) February 14, 2017
If that wasn't enough black cosplay magic for you, there's even more if you search the #28DaysOfBlackCosplay hashtag on Twitter. There are so many amazing, talented, black cosplayers spending weeks and months building these costumes from scratch, to show them off at conventions throughout the year. It's so beautiful to see them celebrated, especially when we are often so overlooked, misrepresented and discriminated against in a community that should be all about inclusion and togetherness. Black cosplay is beautiful, and don't you forget it.