Cosplayers vs. Blackface and Brownface
Right now the cosplay community is in a uproar about race and what is and is not okay to do regarding a costume. I personally am not a fan of anyone trying to force their opinions on another person. But I would like to try and help the community better understand an issue before they begin preaching on it.
Today’s topic: Blackface vs. Painting one’s skin for character accuracy.
“The author of the award-winning play Clybourne Park has refused permission to a Berlin theatre company to perform the play after learning that a lead character would appear blacked up. Managers at the Deutsches Theatre said a female African-American character in the play was being performed by a white actress and producers would "experiment with make-up". In a letter to the Dramatists Guild, US playwright Bruce Norris said he was taking a "zero tolerance position" on what he termed an "asinine tradition". "Normally I don't meddle in the cultural politics of other countries," wrote Norris "but when my work and the work of my colleagues — other playwrights — is misrepresented, I do. A zero-tolerance position is the only position to take.”—
The second paragraph has been falsely translated. What it actually says is, “Managers at the Deutsches Theater have admitted to being a bunch of dumb fucks.”
In any case, well done Bruce Norris!
In shocking news, blackface is wrong and offensive
Because I spend more time descending into rage spirals than I do trying to be articulate, here are some helpful links for those who might need them about why blackface (and related other racist costumes) are gross, racist, and offensive:
- Black Face vs White Face: What’s the Difference
- The “Should I use Blackface On My Blog?” flowchart
- Sociological Images: archives containing discussion about blackface
- I’m Not a Costume: STARS and the Campaign Against Racist Halloween Costumes
- Don’t Mess Up When You Dress Up: Cultural Appropriation and Costumes
- Open Letter to the PocaHotties and Indian Warriors this Halloween
- How to Inform a Friend Their Halloween Costume Is Racist
Feel free to share any other links (there are tons!) that are helpful to illuminating this subject for people.
Also, specific to this issue from apparently the last time this dude did this: Why blackface is WRONG and Colton Haynes is WRONG
Mini-rant on Cosplay 'Blackface'
Is black face
If you REALLY think about it. Someone putting the time and effort into using makeup to appear a proper tanned shows a lot of respect to the character and the race.
These people realize that getting a ‘fake-tan’ done at the average salon can look REALLY BAD (see: oompa-loompa) (why dont we get up in arms about this too?? if anything BAD fake-tans are FAR more offensive than what these girls have done)
Also actually tanning for a character? Really bad for the skin.
I’ve never seen any darker skinned people get called out for using foundation to make themselves lighter for a cosplay. (maybe it happens but I dont see it?) Why harass those of lighter skin tones?
These people possibly spend an hour just making sure their foundation is right. They put the utmost respect in the the skin tone so I give them mine.
On another point: sure they don’t NEED to use the foundation to make themselves the right skin tone but if they want to be more ‘accurate’ let them.
Just please stop harassing these poor people and calling them racists when they’re very far from it.
TL;DR USING A DARKER FOUNDATION TO BE THE RIGHT SKIN TONE FOR A COSTUME IS NOT RACIST OR BLACK FACE. IT’S FAKE TANNING. SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE HAVE DONE FOR YEARS NOW.
Why blackface is WRONG and Colton Haynes is WRONG
For those who are unaware, Colton Haynes dressed up as Kanye West for Halloween a few years back. Cool cool, you wear costumes on Halloween, whatever. Go as a rapper if you like! BUT what Colton decided to do was to darken his skin with make-up (I am assuming) in order to make himself “look” like Kanye. No. This is called BLACKFACE, for those of you who are unaware, and it is racist.
Now maybe you’re saying OH HEY he wasn’t TRYING to be racist!!!! He didn’t say he hated black people/PoC!!!! You’re just an asshole!!! It was a costume!!!!
No. You are wrong. It does NOT matter what the intent of it was. What Colton did was blackface. By darkening his skin for a costume, he’s saying that Kanye West’s skin tone IS A COSTUME. If you darken your skin for Halloween or cosplay or something of that sort, you are saying that PoC’s skin tone is nothing more than a costume.
I’m going to quote some of Damn, Lay Off The Bleach’s FAQ here, to reinforce what I’ve just said.
- Blackface/Brownface/Yellowface have all been used (and continue to be used) to dehumanize and parody Black people, brown people and Asian people respectively. Harmful stereotypes were employed and bolstered/upheld through these “comedic” shows, stereotypes that cause and aid in the perpetration of microaggressions. Racism escalates from such microaggressions before becoming larger, fatal incidents we often hear about on the news.
- Regardless of whether or not you are mocking others of different races/ethnicities, darkening your skin is still harmful to others and is a VERY weighted action. We repeat, even if you aren’t parodying another race/ethnicity, is it STILL HURTFUL to others. You cannot separate the racist history from said action JUST BECAUSE YOU want to cosplay and it’s extremely selfish and racist of you to disregard those very real emotions and realities for your own interests.
- The skin colors of the very real and very oppressed people (who have to live with the disadvantages that come from it) are NOT COSTUMES.
- And NO, it isn’t *just like* painting yourself blue to be a Smurf or green to be the Hulk, not until we start seeing blue and green people walking around, complaining of the oppression and disadvantages they face because of who they are. You get a big fuck you if you even thought of such a thing.
Guess what? FUCK YOU, Colton Haynes, and FUCK YOU everyone who is defending him. If you’re going to quote the dictionary definition of racism at those of us who are trying to tell you he is WRONG, then FUCK YOU TOO. Because the dictionary was written by a bunch of white people thanks.
This is me collecting my people. SHUT THE HELL UP, HE DID SOMETHING VERY RACIST, AND IT IS NOT OKAY. DO NOT PRETEND THAT IT IS OKAY. STOP DEFENDING HIM.