Meet Chaka Cumberbatch, also known as Princess Mentality Cosplay. She is an insanely talented and prolific cosplayer who has tackled characters from Codex to Storm to Captain America to Zatanna. Back in 2010 she commissioned a Sailor Venus costume and put in tons of work to find the right wig and fashion the accessories. She did an amazing job but soon after wearing the costume to A-Kon 21, a photo of her in the outfit circulated online and was met with incredible backlash. Racist backlash.
While at the Sailor Moon shoot, I chatted up and befriended a photographer who took the now infamous picture of me that would eventually go on to accompany numerous blog and forum posts arguing about whether or not black people should cosplay outside of their race.
Part of cosplay is about fantasy. I’m never going to be a blonde in real life, but I can don a wig with my Amethyst costume and pretend for a while. Additionally, many comic book and video game characters are drawn with such wacky proportions that it’s damn near impossible for any human person to be an exact match. People should cosplay as whoever they want. Period.
I’m astounded at the level of idiocy people have displayed in response to Chaka’s costumes. She wrote at xoJane about some comments she has seen:
“For a black cosplayer (not to be racist) she did an amazing job!” the original Tumblr post read. It was later was edited to include “I love her skin tone” after all hell broke loose.
What kills me is that in person, nobody has the balls to say a word about whether or not they think darker-skinned people should cosplay lighter skinned characters — but online is a completely different animal. Online, I was “Ni—- Venus,” and “Sailor Venus Williams” because I am black.
People accused her of ruining characters by cosplaying them and as you can see, much worse. She’s even seen cosplayers give others a hard time for something as minor as dressing like Wonder Woman with the wrong hairstyle. I recommend reading her article and responding by spreading positive messages to cosplayers.
Check out a few of her amazing costumes below.