To the members of the cosplay/costuming community,
We on the Costume-Con 40 committee wish to address the ongoing events occurring across the country and around the world. Every day brings with it more reports of innocent men, women, and children who are victimized and murdered for no reason except who they are.
We are sadly aware of the toxic, exclusionary culture that our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) members have had to endure for far too long. As we have listened, we have chosen to examine our fandom and its history. Sadly, it is a history that has harbored the elements of prejudice, racism (among many -isms), and exclusion that are part of society at large. Experiences our BIPOC members have referenced include, but are by no means limited to:
- Dismissal or belittling of lived experience
- Expectation of authority/support for BIPOC characters in various fandoms
- Talked down to, assumed to be less knowledgeable or not be interested in topics being presented or discussed
- Cosplay/costumes critiqued or criticized without permission
- Attitudes by some members of fandoms that BIPOC do not belong in fandom or roles and that BIPOC characters should not be centered in storytelling
- The use of Social Justice Warrior (SJW) as a perjorative term meant to ridicule or demean the idea of diversity and inclusion in fandom
- Social media used to target, harass, and abuse members of the BIPOC community and their allies in response to their participation on panels, events, or being in that fandom/hobby in general
- Being targeted in person or through social media with acts of aggression, harassment, or retribution for calling out harassing and abusive behaviors.
In its decades of existence, Costume-Con has always stated that we are a conference for everyone with an interest in costuming, cosplay, and related arts, no matter what skill level or genera. In reflection, it is clear that we have more to do, do better, and needed to do sooner to make our con one that is truly welcoming to all cosplayers/costumers. These sorts of behaviors will not be tolerated at CC40 or on any of our official social media and events.
As we prepare to celebrate the 40th Costume-Con in Betheseda, MD in 2022, we are taking the following steps to insure that Costume-Con is a welcoming, safe place for our BIPOC community members to come and share their art, talents, and knowledge:
- Include the following on our website, social media, and other official con publications;
- Costume-Con 40 Anti-Racism Statement
“Over the past several years we have seen the rise of visible and aggressive public displays of racism across society. Costume-Con 40 (CC40) is committed to being as oppression free as possible. Cosplay/costuming should be accessible to people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds.”
In addition our Code of Conduct will specifically prohibit:
- Race-facing (Black-face, red-face, etc…) and all depictions of negative racial stereotypes.
- The use and displays of symbols of hate/intolerance in attempts to undermine the dignity and humanity of individuals or groups of people.
We are also creating the Copper Dragonfly Memorial Fund, in honor of our late co-chair, D. Jeannette Holloman, to help cover the cost of memberships and hotel rooms for BIPOC attendees, panelists, and con committee volunteers who need financial assistance in order to attend CC40.
We are also making a more concerted effort to reach out to the BIPOC community (cons and fandom groups), so they can be fully included in our community as we mark our 40th anniversary.
This is not a final or complete list of what we hope to do in our efforts. But we do hope as 2022 approaches that we can look forward to a Costume-Con where every cosplayer and costumer is welcomed, respected, and celebrated for who they are.