A Cosplayer’s Impact
The following is a guest post from Xavier Conley, also known as XCFett. Xavier has been heavily into cosplay for about five years. He plays various characters from across geekdom, from Star Wars, Lord Of The Rings, and the Dark Knight.
So DragonCon this year was the first time I wore my Batman armor to a major con. As many of you know I’ve had to deal with issues regarding bigots who can’t seem to wrap their mind around the idea of a black guy cosplaying Batman, because “Batman is historically white, there are plenty of black characters you could do instead”. Well, I cosplay Batman because I love the character and because representation matters.
When I say it matters let me tell you what happened on the Saturday of DragonCon this year. I was walking around posing in my Dark Knight when I happened upon a little (POC) boy in a black and yellow batman costume. He couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6. With him was his mother. This little boy saw me approaching and immediately stopped dead in his tracks, tugging at his mother’s hand. I could see him point at his hand (the skin) and then pointing to me. I approached and he was a little intimidated at first as any little kid is when meeting a life-sized armored character. I knelt down and reached out my hand for a high five. With all the force he could muster he slapped my hand, with the biggest smile on his face.
He told me he wanted to ask me something so, still kneeling I leaned in with my ear. “Batman” he said timidly “You’re brown, just like me! Does that mean that I can be a real superhero someday too? I don’t see a lot of brown superheros…” If you know me, you know that I don’t ever break character but I broke down when he said that. His words touched the deepest part of my soul. I then ignored my #1 batman rule and removed my cowl so he could see my face. His face lit up and I teared up even more.
I looked this kid dead in the eye and said “you can be any superhero you want to be and don’t ever let anyone tell you different. Being a brown superhero is a very special thing and I know you’re going to make a great one.” He nodded, still grinning. I put my cowl back on, wiping away the remaining tears and trying to get back in to character. The boy’s mother was moved by the exchange as well and let me know that I had made her son’s day by doing what I did.
Think about this.
These kids are growing up in a country where you can so easily feel like “less than” because your skin is darker. Police brutality and racism are being made ever so visible by today’s multimedia outlets and these kids aren’t blind, they take that in. For kids like this little boy, the idea that you can one day be a superhero, no matter what your skin color is, opens up a whole new world for them. This is why I cosplay.
This is why I’m The Batman.
All images sourced from the Facebook page.