I must admit, as a kid, I loved playing dress up. I loved the ability to pair clothing, imagination and talent into something else. For a while, I wanted to be an actor–then I discovered the power of words. However, I still love dressing up.
Halloween was just a jumping off point!
When I was younger, I wanted to dress up as She-Ra, just because–I was discouraged from doing so. You can only imagine my joy to see a whole community of folk that look like me daring to be Super Saiyans, Trekkies and Airbenders! From that place of the marriage of talent, imagination and clothing we get these diverse communities that have decided, too, Halloween is not enough!
One of the dope things about the time I am graced to live in is the surge (read: visibility) in Black people that cosplay or participate in Live Action Role Play (LARPing). I mean, it is the most lit thing in the world! Do not debate me on this! Last year was the fiftieth anniversary of the national holiday known as ComiCon in San Diego, California. It is this level of visibility which allows being Black to break off its enforced monolith–making us all a little more free to be who we are.
The thing is, in matter of being Black and interested in this level of expression? It often seeing as ‘trying to be White.’ As I say often, stop boxing Blackness, and stop boxing Black people in! There is nothing wrong with a little Black boy wanting to pretend he is T’Challa because his father is LARPing with his friends as T’Chaka! There is nothing wrong with a group of Black girls wanting to be the Sailor Scouts, My Hero Academia or Akira! There are more Black folk that participate in cosplay that you think–so it is not being White to do so!
We as a people are some of the most diverse on Earth! How very dare the world try to box us in because they cannot contain or control what is to be both Black and truly creative? I need to know who this collective body that keeps determining what is and is not acceptable to be Black! I really do, so I can kick that door in and slap every last one of them! As the indomitable Viola Davis said, and I scream it from rooftops, “Stop taming us!” That is no longer a plead, its a demand.
I no longer desire to be She-Ra. When asked, I always LARP as Dark Phoenix. I’ve earned that. Plus, everyone knows the most powerful women in the Marvel Universe are red-heads.
[Images from SyFy, and Essence.com (IG names included)]