It’s undeniable that the so-called “geek” or “nerd” culture (comic books, video games, laborious continuity issues, conventions, etc) has completely enveloped American popular culture. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where it caught on; maybe the money brought about by the spike in sales and value comics saw during the speculator boom of the 90s? Maybe the overwhelming success of films like Sam Rami’s Spider-Man, Guillermo del Toro’s Blade, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, or Bryan Singer’s X-Men? Maybe the karmic wheel finally coming around to the side of the oppressed? Okay, maybe not that last one. But now, in the year 2015, comic conventions are the go-to spot for movie studios to show off their latest blockbusters, regardless of genre. Superheroes have utterly dominated the visual landscape in both films and television, and most people can name at least two of the five Guardians of the Galaxy. That’s progress that I thought would take at least another decade.
But even considering the rags-to-riches story that is the nerd lifestyle come up, people of color (PoC) have always been on the fringes of this particular phenomenon. Representation is something that many of us take seriously, and it can really hurt to look to comics, anime, manga, games, etc and think “why do none of these people look like me?” The world of cosplay, the art of creating costumes and dressing up to look like any character of your choosing, is one that directly invites fans to revel in the world(s) that they love, and in each other, but the racial discrimination can even be felt in here. To bring attention to this, and to put a new spin on Black History Month, #28DaysOfBlackCosplay sprang up on Twitter, created by professional cosplayer Chaka Cumberbatch, where PoC post pictures of themselves and others cosplaying and injecting themselves into the conversation.