I've been accomplishing a lot lately. Literally full steam ahead for the past month or so and I can say that it has paid off.
My Twitter following is on the rise, as is that of this blog. With so many projects rolling along nicely my first flop hit me pretty hard about a week ago.
Please allow me to step into my other self. The me that loves anime, manga, and comics.
One of my side projects has been to bring a little taste of real life into what I experience among friends that also enjoy my nerdy indulgences and at conventions. My Facebook page and eventual channel "EchoTV" was to debut with a panel on diversity in cosplay at Otakon 2016; the convention's last year in my home town.
When the convention emailed to tell me my panel application for "Cosplaying While Black" was denied, I was angry and wanted an explanation. (One I have yet to receive) In my rejection letter they basically say that they didn't properly go through all submissions because there were so many. I took to Facebook to share the news, telling my panelists it was a no go, and watched the reactions roll in.
As the third largest convention in the country, it's understandable that panels undergo some scrutiny. But for a diversity panel to get denied was confusing to me and plenty of others. There are panels run by less competent individuals on frivilous topics and yet what would have been (quite possibly) a hit at the convention was turned down.
Reasons why it was rejected looked like this:
- putting "black" in the title is alienating
- maybe there was already a diversity panel (doubtful and why can't there be more than one?)
- diversity panels aren't marketable to that type of crowd (again, doubtful)
- too many POC in one place is harmful in some way
First, a person of color is not just a black person. While the panel was more for them it's summary made sure to explain how inclusive and positive I intended the panel to be. I wanted a discussion to clear the air and make people understand things like changing your skin tone for a costume or feeling like you simply cannot cosplay someone because of their race (which leaves POC with very few characters to choose from).
The outpouring of support continued on Twitter from prominent members of the black comic and cosplay community. I was even shown several instances were companies pulled funding from conventions who openly supported POC and LGBTQ communities.
Therefore I decided to go on with the panel in more of a gorilla form. A video will be shot where I will spur discussion and interview individuals and groups as they move about the con. Covering the same topics that were to be covered in the panel. This time even the name is more inviting, "Cosplaying in Color".
I'm nervous to go about it but I'm sure it will work out and show Otakon and other conventions like it that they can't silence everyone.
If you'd like to see the original application and denial go here.