Cosplaying, Race & Culture

I’ve already made a post related to this topic before, but I am not a believer in boxing and limiting people into cosplaying characters that are only within the cosplayer’s race or culture.

I’m aware that there are people who adamantly disagree with that and they are entitled to their opinion.

As a Black person, there is a very limited amount of characters that we have to choose from. I don’t care to be limited to the few Black characters that exist, let alone Black female characters as the only ones I can cosplay.

If you’re an anime fan, which is Japanese, then the characters are Japanese or Eurocentric looking, and some who are more traditional, wear Japanese clothing.

Trust me when I say I do care how people feel, I do care what people think, but I cannot afford to care all the time about everything to please everyone.

Cultural Appropriation is one of those topics I have mixed feelings about that I feel is way more complex than the broad brush people paint it with. I just accept that I as well as others will be accused of it if we are caught wearing cheongsam, qipao, kimono, yukata, ao dai, hanbok at an anime convention.

An anime convention is a place for people to celebrate Japanese culture and or Asian culture in general. There are panels where Americans are teaching Introductory Japanese, playing Taiko Drum music or showing the traditional way how to tie a kimono. If it is done incorrectly, I understand the anger, but apart from those who do not want outsiders participating in traditional Japanese customs, what about those who do?

There are plenty who want that inclusion. Why are their feelings always left out as if they are invalid and non-existent? Some of the cosplayers who chose to be those Asian characters will be wearing those outfits and without wearing that outfit, they really won’t be identifiable. Chun Li isn’t Chun Li without her cheongsam, and if she’s done with Western clothes, White cosplayers could be accused of whitewashing a character.

Some say well then, Chun Li should not be cosplayed by non-Chinese people. What if a Japanese or Korean person cosplays her? Are they wrong because it’s not their culture, despite her being their race?

Black Panther is African. African Americans cosplaying him are cosplaying outside of their “culture.” It’s true that Black Panther was created by American writers but that’s why I’m saying if you really think about it, this stuff gets quite complicated, if you really focus on the cultural aspect of characters.

Look I’m not here to argue about it. I just don’t agree. At the Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival I wore a Japanese kimono given by a Japanese person from Japan who was an international student who stayed with my grandparents.

If someone accuses me of cultural appropriation I’m just going to have to shrug my shoulders and say, “ok” because I can’t stop them from being hurt or offended, but I have made a decision to wear these things. My intention is not to hurt anyone but I can’t live my live trying to please everyone, I’ll never be happy and it’s impossible, because to the people who want the inclusion, I’d simply have to apologize and say, “Sorry, I’d like to participate, but I can’t because it offends some people.” Then they would be hurt.

No matter what reason I give it will never be good enough for the people who have condemned it. Being a fan of Japanese Anime, traveling to South Korea, actually attending a protest in front of a Japanese embassy about the comfort woman issue, taking two classes of elementary Chinese and joining a Chinese club, none of those things will justify in their minds what I am doing. Even thought I care no one is going to know I did these things from looking at my pictures and some won’t care.

Really it turns to bullying at a certain point. I don’t like how people go after people on the internet and send an army of people after them. There can be people who I absolutely hate, but I don’t believe in creating an internet man hunt.

I know that people feel like passionate defenders of justice or better known as SJWs Social Justice Warriors, but as I will say again, there are people who support the celebration and inclusion and encourage others to participate in their culture.

Is an anime convention and appropriate invitation? I think so. Some people do not because if it’s not run by a Japanese person in Japan making an official approval statement then it’s cultural appropriation.

Offense is a tricky thing, because everyone is offended by various things, some more than others for various reasons. At the end of the day however it’s important not to let other people’s actions control your feelings or you will forever be livid with life.

As I said, for my own culture, I don’t care who wears cultural clothes of mine, as long as it’s respectful, not done in jest or mockful humor.

And as I will say again, this is an event, a cultural event, to celebrate the culture. It’s appropriate at that event. I’m not talking about casually wearing those clothes to the mall just because.

But people are gonna feel the way they feel about it for their own reasons. It is what it is. Agree to disagree.