Spare Cosplay from Blackface
Recently a cosplayer-streamer was banned from Twitch because she cosplayed a dark-skinned character from Apex Legends while streaming. Apparently, some of his viewers connected it to the Blackface racial slur and draw more people to report the stream thus banning her. But is this really right? Is that even Blackface?
Defining BlackfaceBlackface is something that is connected to darkening your face to "mock" or "cause insult" to people of color. This is commonly done in the United States a long time ago.
Blackface is part of a history of dehumanization, of denied citizenship, and of efforts to excuse and justify state violence. From lynchings to mass incarceration, whites have utilized blackface (and the resulting dehumanization) as part of its moral and legal justification for violence. It is time to stop with the dismissive arguments those that describe these offensive acts as pranks, ignorance and youthful indiscretions. Blackface is never a neutral form of entertainment, but an incredibly loaded site for the production of damaging stereotypes...the same stereotypes that undergird individual and state violence, American racism, and a centuries worth of injustice. - David Leonard, chair of Washington State University's department of critical culture, gender, and race studies | 2012 Huffington Post essay
Well, definitely that is bad. Using dark make-up to portray someone and mock them is indeed not good. But is that what happened here?
Cosplay and BlackfaceI think there are a disconnect and an overreaction. Cosplay which means costume play is a form of the depiction of a fictional character and is different from impersonation. The Twitch streamer, for example, is depicting a dark-skinned character from Apex Legends and I think being white while depicting that same character is more racial than using make-up.
At one time I cosplayed, Nick Fury who in the Avengers MCU is dark. To portray the character a bit accurately, I use tanning make-up and intend to look as close to the character as possible. Is that Blackface? I do not think so.
Rights advocates should spare cosplay from all of this Blackface issue. Cosplayers do not use make-up to mock or insult a race. Cosplayers use make-up for the purpose of portraying a character accurately and to honor them.
Does this mean that only dark-skinned individual can cosplay dark-toned characters? Isn't that more racial and discriminating?
What about dark-skinned cosplayers using make-up to be white? Should we call that Whiteface and shout as discriminating too?
We should stop from being so affected by things of the past and rather be more on the substance. Ask ourselves, is this an insult? Is this done to mock? If our answer is NO then we should stop being offended.
What do you think? I want to hear your views too.