The release of Marvel’s Black Panther last month has prompted an overwhelming surge of appreciation for African clothing in movie theaters everywhere. From dashikis and kente cloth, to brightly colored head wraps and unapologetic fros, black people worldwide have been showing support for the film by donning our most extravagant African clothing to the theaters. It has become a symbolic gesture for us- a way for us all to collectively show our pride and support for a film made entirely by people who look like us.
— Ozzy Has Sprite 🍋🇬🇭 (@hey__ozzy) February 16, 2018
Getting excited about our #BlackPanther @_MeetTheCritics #BlackPantherLive event on @colourfulradio tonight #Live at 7pm & came across this inspirational #photograph #WakandaForever @letitiawright pic.twitter.com/XeFm8pHRw4
— A Londoner's London (@LondonersLondon) February 16, 2018
And while white people have been cosplaying for years, black people are rarely ever presented the opportunity to dress up as their favorite characters from movies. The bulk of movies in Hollywood that feature an entirely black cast are usually about slavery, and seriously, who the hell wants to dress up as a slave?
Finally, we have the opportunity to go all out and REALLY show our pride and appreciation for our heritage. Which is why when a white friend expressed her excitement to me about seeing Black Panther and getting to wear her African head wrap to the theater…I was confused.
White people are presented the opportunity to cosplay for LITERALLY countless movies. There is no shortage of films in Hollywood featuring an entirely white cast, produced and directed by an entirely white team. White people do not have to worry about only being represented in films depicting slavery and other negative, shameful narratives of their history. Yet despite this never-ending flood of opportunities for white people to cosplay, there are still some who insist on participating in cosplay for literally the only superhero film we have.
Dear white people, Black Panther cosplay is not for you. There is a very fine line between appreciation and appropriation, and showing up to the theater donning box braids and a dashiki is a prime example of white privilege. And with the constant production of superhero films in Hollywood featuring a white cast, there is no doubt that you will be presented other opportunities to cosplay and dress up as your favorite character. Please, just take a step back and let us have our moment.