Here's The Powerful Reason Why Black Cosplayers Are Using The #BlackCosplayerHere Hashtag

    "My skin color doesn’t matter when I’m in costume. I’m not the 'black Sailor Mars', or 'the black Princess Serenity'. I am Sailor Mars, or Princess Serenity."

    Black cosplayers on Twitter have been posting their photos with the hashtag #BlackCosplayerHere.

    I want people to know that skin color shouldn't be a prime factor of cosplaying, especially choosing or if you have a certain connection towards the character. If you think black or PoC cosplayers are inaccurate because the color of our skin, then 👋🏾. #blackcosplayerhere https://t.co/AcvIG5rxhq

    If I can cosplay lighter skinned characters and people can easily tell who I am, then there's no excuse to blackface. #cosplayinyourownskin #BlackCosplayerHere #cosplayanyway https://t.co/qK5o1feaGd

    And they're glorious.

    What do all these cosplays have in common?? All of these cosplays that I've done are outside of my skin tone. And guess what.... they still look badass!! Skin color ≠ cosplay accuracy. It's sad that we STILL have to have this conversation in 2018 #blackcosplayerhere https://t.co/BswemZIKWT

    It has been 4 costumes so far since I started cosplaying. Hoping to do photoshoots for another two before the year is out 😁 #BlackCosplayerHere Black Panther v2 📸 - @rim_aj Supes and GL 📸 - https://t.co/DMiACD5YIs https://t.co/7P90hbvfiQ

    “When we hit our lowest point, we are open to the greatest change” -my friend told me to photoshop water into some pictures so I tried my best! 😊 #thelegendofkorra #korracosplay #blackcosplayerhere #avatar #cosplay https://t.co/eZlzAgXWDn

    Belema Boyle, 25, a corporate strategy analyst from Los Angeles who started the hashtag, told BuzzFeed News that she started cosplaying in 2013.

    "But there's not a ton of good black cosplayers" Hi. My name is Belle. I'm a LA based #BlackCosplayer, and I think my cosplays are good. Black cosplayers continue to exist outside of #28daysofblackcosplay and I'd love if the representation in the community reflected that. https://t.co/IR4xf9DEqH

    Boyle said it's been a whirlwind of an adventure from feeling like the only one to finding a community.

    She said the hashtag started organically. Boyle said: "It was in response to the colorism displayed in the cosplay community especially by the cosplay media.

    "The constant excuse was that black cosplayers are a rarity and difficult to find. I just wanted to say that's not true; we've always been here, but biases have kept us underrepresented.

    "For some reason, that stuck with people, and it snowballed into a beautiful culmination of so many black cosplayers finally being recognized."

    I want people to know that skin color shouldn't be a prime factor of cosplaying, especially choosing or if you have a certain connection towards the character. If you think black or PoC cosplayers are inaccurate because the color of our skin, then 👋🏾. #blackcosplayerhere https://t.co/AcvIG5rxhq

    Boyle said she said she was floored by the volume of people who got involved. She said: "When I used the hashtag, I had like 150 or so followers, so I didn't expect anyone to see it. Then a few friends shared it and it just became a movement of its own."

    Hola, my name's Sam and I've been cosplaying for ~4 years! I style wigs, make armor, make props, sew, paint myself dumb colors, take and edit most of my own photos! Sometimes sp00ky, sexy, or badass, but always weird! I'm also a #Blackcosplayer ! #BlackCosplayerHere 💖 https://t.co/BSCaKqCf1e

    She continued: "I think the magnitude of participation was proof of our numbers but also how tired we are of being relegated to second-class citizens in a community that prides itself on inclusivity.

    "It was also great to see so many allies check their biases and actively work to make their worlds bigger and to use their platforms to help the unheard.

    "The responses were mostly positive. There were a few people who tried to make more excuses/whitewash the issues as humanitarian versus racial, there were a few that were painfully silent, and there were some outright racists."

    "But it was so good to see so many people uplift blackness, that I couldn't be bothered by bigotry," Boyle added.

    “Patience is a virtue!” ⛪️ Have a hall shot of my Garterbelt cosplay taken at AnimeNext! #pantyandstocking #psg #paswg #pantyandstockingwithgarterbelt #psgcosplay #paswgcosplay #garterbeltcosplay #blackcosplay #blackcosplayerhere @VoiceOfVegeta 👀 https://t.co/jsiU8dncCN

    Don’t change your skin color for a cosplay. Don’t tape your eyes for a cosplay. Don’t change your features for a cosplay. Cosplay the character, not the race. #cosplayanyway #blackcosplayerhere https://t.co/49va5xUfnu

    Raven is out and about #Blerdcon2018 💕 we are about to shoot on the lawn! LAST DAY WORK TO DO! #blackcosplayerhere #CosplayAnyWay https://t.co/1manhNYagr

    One of the cosplayers who got involved in the hashtag, Alicia Lewis, 27, from Huntington, West Virginia, told BuzzFeed News: "Cosplaying to me means representation and freedom of expression."

    “Your hair isn’t blonde, so it doesn’t look ‘princess-like’...” welp. Hi, my name is Alicia and I am Black Cosplayer and inclusive body positive woman. Black Cosplayers matter, and representation matters! ⭐️#BlackCosplayerHere https://t.co/3UdH7QseMr

    She said: "When I’m in costume, I tend to embody the character I am dressed as. I cosplay characters that I relate to, or share the same values as, so I don’t feel artificial while wearing the cosplay.

    "I’ll never forget the time I was at Lexington Comic and Toy Convention dressed as Princess Tiana, and this little black girl and her dads came up to me so she could meet me. I gave her a hug and she turned around to them and said, 'Daddy, look — it’s a princess who looks like me.'

    "That little girl is my reminder to always keep cosplaying. Keep going. Keep inspiring. Her words keep me striving to be a better cosplayer, and person."

    "My skin color doesn’t matter when I’m in costume," Lewis added. "I’m not the 'black Sailor Mars', or 'the black princess Serenity'. I am Sailor Mars, or Princess Serenity."

    Madster Cosplay and Photography

    Ikran Dahir is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Ikran Dahir at ikran.dahir@buzzfeed.com.

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