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#28DaysOfBlackCosplay at The Mary Sue, Day Twenty-Eight

Meet Kueen Kerosene, DarkKendoka Yasuke, and Mandisa Njeri

 

Cosplay of Kueen Kerosene, DarkKendoka Yasuke, and Mandisa Njeri

Hello there, fellow cosplay enthusiasts. As you can see from the headline, this is the 28th day in our #28DaysOfBlackCosplay showcase. I sincerely hope that everyone has enjoyed this series of features, more importantly, I hope that the overall message of supporting Black cosplayers in our community has resonated with you. This hashtag, really, is just the start of a much bigger push to highlight Black cosplayers, to share them, and to make them feel like they have a place in the geek community.

The Black excellence doesn’t end today, it’s seeped into our community, and has been this whole time.

Ah, now that I’ve gotten my feelings out, here are the last cosplayers for February.

We had over 70 cosplayers.

In only 28 days.

Let’s. Go!

 

Kueen Kerosen

Kueen Kerosene has been cosplaying for 6 years, inspired by (and absolutely adoring) seeing everyone dressing up at cons. You can check out her story below!

How do you decide what you’re going to cosplay?

I have a list of all the characters I like to choose from, but sometimes,  when I’m watching a show and see someone I like, I just start planning how to recreate their look.

What cosplay are you most proud of? And yes, it’s absolutely ok to say ALL.

Currently, Duchess for Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. I had to make everything for that look and I did it during quarantine and it was something good for me to focus on.

What’s a cosplay moment that you remember fondly?

Being the Island of Te Fiti with my boyfriend as Maui and having so many kids say they liked the costumes <3

Hey, it’s time to take a break from making that cosplay or buying it off your wishlist, what are you watching/playing/reading to unwind?

Currently, Young Justice Season 3 and Yashahime.

Do you tend to cosplay the character/creature/entity as is or do you put your own spin on them? Any particular reason why? And yes, it’s perfectly ok to say “because I like to.”

I like to put a bit of my own spin on it just to have more fun with it, but some characters I really appreciate so I’ll try to do every detail I can.

It’s cruel to ask what your favorite cosplay is so what are your top three (at most)? Are they the ones being featured or are they different ones?

Uhhhh so cruel. I’d say Duchess, Poison Ivy, and Island of Te Fiti. I put a lot of work into those three.

Photographer: Newstylecomics

What do your 2021 cosplans look like? If you’re trying to keep it secret OR you have no plans, that’s fine!

Keeping it a bit of a secret, working on some larger costumes that I was waiting to wear at a con but I don’t know when the next con might be :(

In an alternate universe where money and resources are plentiful, all your bills are paid, and you’ve got nothing but time, what dream cosplays are you doing?

A whole bunch of League of Legend characters.

In yet another alternate universe, conventions are safe to return to, so where are you headed?

San Diego Comic-Con is a dream of mine <3

What inspires you to stay active in the community, especially in these trying times? If you haven’t been active that’s fine, too!

It’s an escape from the stress and chaos and now, more than ever, supporting one another is needed.

What does #28DaysOfBlackCosplay mean to you?

A time for appreciation of hard-working and amazing Black cosplayers and crafters who have been overlooked. It’s a time to educate, explore, and discover a part of the cosplay community that some people seem to think doesn’t exist. A time to be aware of the struggle and ignorance we face year-round and how awareness and support in those matters can make such a big difference.

It’s March 1st, 2021, what would you like to see happen after the 28 days are over?

A feel of appreciation as I see more of the amazing hardworking cosplayers and crafters that are overlooked get the attention they deserve.

How can the community (people, events, ect.) do better to represent you and other Black cosplayers?

Share us regularly, not just during the month or when BLM matters are more prominent. Don’t pretend to not see the ignorance in comments when we do characters of different races or hairstyles. Help to educate those who are ignorant on BLM and other minority-based issues.

Any tips for newcomers who are waffling on whether or not they should cosplay?

JUST DO IT. Like why wouldn’t you? It’s for fun :)

What are you looking forward to in 2021? It doesn’t have to be cosplay-related, it can be anything.

Besides the end of COVID, finishing school, and launching my hand made organizer shop ^_^

Social media time! Tell us where we can find you! Give me as many links as you want. Twitter? TikTok? Patreon? I want it all!

I’m on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook!

 

DarkKendoka Yasuke

DarkKendoka Yasuke cosplaying Korra

Photographer: Majide Photography

DarkKendoka Yasuke has been cosplaying for about 10 years. After attending a few anime conventions in normal clothes, he began to notice how much fun people were having as they cosplayed. “I felt that would be a great way to immerse myself more into the con-going culture.” You can check out his story below!

Oh! And remember Airship Ashanti? He’s a part of that crew, too!

How do you decide what you’re going to cosplay?

For me, it’s based on the characters that I’ve admired over the years or ones that I think just look cool from series that I like.

What’s a cosplay moment that you remember fondly?

One instance that comes to mind is the impromptu mass photoshoot that I participated in. Some friends and I dressed as Final Fantasy characters for Gen Con one year and happened to run into another group of Final Fantasy cosplayers. What started off as a quick group photo turned into being surrounded by a large crowd of photographers for a few minutes.

Hey, it’s time to take a break from making that cosplay or buying it off your wishlist, what are you watching/playing/reading to unwind?

On the gaming front, I’ve been sinking my teeth into God Of War on the PS4 for a while now. With what I’m watching, it’s a list that continuously changes from week to week. For the moment, I’ve been keeping up with Attack On Titan and started trying to get through Space Brothers. And now that I have access to HBONow, I can start on Young Justice and other DC cartoons that I missed out on over the years.

Do you tend to cosplay the character/creature/entity as is or do you put your own spin on them? Any particular reason why? And yes, it’s perfectly ok to say “because I like to.”

If I put a spin on a character, it’s usually to fit the particular event that I’m going to. I frequent Steampunk conventions so I have Steampunk versions of several characters like Charizard and Pink Lion (from Steven Universe).

It’s cruel to ask what your favorite cosplay is so what are your top three (at most)? Are they the ones being featured or are they different ones?

Mine would be Black Panther, Korra, and Cyberpunk Buddy Blue (from 80s Rainbow Bright). I have examples of the first two that are being featured.

What do your 2021 cosplans look like? If you’re trying to keep it secret OR you have no plans, that’s fine!

I’d like to make good use of this downtime and work on my costumes so that they’re ready once conventions start up again. I’ve put myself under a lot of stress trying to crunch in the days before a con, and this is the perfect opportunity to get ahead of the game on that.

In an alternate universe where money and resources are plentiful, all your bills are paid, and you’ve got nothing but time, what dream cosplays are you doing?

For the longest time, I’ve been interested in cosplaying Devilman. It’s a series that I’ve enjoyed since I was a teenager and I just think he looks cool.

What does #28DaysOfBlackCosplay mean to you?

Being part of #28DaysOfBlackCosplay has given me an expanded platform to show off my costumes, which has developed into deeper meanings over the years. One thing I like is to be part of a movement that is showing the world that Black people cosplay, we can do it well, and we do it with just as much passion as the “traditional” cosplayers that we see all the time. Another thing is that I hope that the hashtag is influencing Black people to let their nerdy flags fly. As a kid, I grew up being taught that Black men were supposed to act and enjoy certain things to be part of the “club”, but it never was something that I felt reflected me. Instead of succumbing to what society wanted of me, I’ve been able to express myself the way I want to and have been living my best life as a result. I hope that the groups of photos associated with the hashtag will give other Black folks the confidence to participate in the things that they love (regardless of what it may be) as individuals and live their best lives without being hindered by societal expectations.

DarkKendoka Yasuke in his Steampunk

How can the community (people, events, ect.) do better to represent you and other Black cosplayers?

Don’t treat diversity as some sort of an afterthought or some weird bullet point on your feature list (we may not always express it, but trust me, we can tell). Featured guests, panelists, and official photo galleries should be representative of the population of the community. If you look at all of those and you see that it’s 99% White, then it’s time to modify your search criteria and potential biases towards lighter-skinned people.

The most important thing is to just take the time to listen. Most of the time, our complaints are just dismissed as us being weak babies that want to bring the community down. Instead, we’re noticing the problems that can be easily overlooked by the majority of the cosplay community and we want to try to convince people to help us make it a more inclusive environment for all.

Any tips for newcomers who are waffling on whether or not they should cosplay?

I know that it’s easier said than done, but you should simply just give it a shot and see how it goes. It doesn’t matter if you buy your costume from a shop, get it commissioned, or make it yourself, just try it. Worries about if the costume is good enough, if it will fall apart, will people like it are the same worries that even veteran cosplayers have all the time. The only difference is that they’ve had the time to learn from their mistakes and continue doing what they love. One benefit these days is that, for every worry that you have, there’s going to be a copious amount of web pages, forums, and videos that can address all of those concerns, so that should hopefully help.

What are you looking forward to in 2021? It doesn’t have to be cosplay-related, it can be anything.

Just like everyone else, I’m waiting for us to be able to get back to being able to enjoy the things that we want to without the dark cloud of a pandemic. However, I don’t want things to go back to being exactly like it was before March 2020. I’ve learned a lot about my mental and physical state that I hope will allow me to have healthier relationships with the people and activities that I love.

Social media time! Tell us where we can find you! Give me as many links as you want. Twitter? TikTok? Patreon? I want it all!

I’m on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to keep up with Airship Ashanti, too! (their socials are linked at the beginning of this interview)

 

 

Mandisa Njeri

 

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A post shared by Mandisa Njeri (@mandisanjeri)

Photographer: Majide Photography

Mandisa Njeri has been cosplaying for 12 years! Sewing, designing, and creating costumes has always been a great creative outlet for her, “So once I realized people dressed as their favorite anime or video game characters and went to conventions I naturally wanted to join in.” You can check out her story below!

Also, she’s part of Airship Ashanti, too!

How do you decide what you’re going to cosplay?

I cosplay with a group of friends and every year we each pick a costume to do for as a group. Hence, a lot of my cosplays are driven by that. It’s a lot of fun since we’re all into different fandoms.
However, when it’s my turn to pick I mainly choose my cosplay based on what anime or video games I enjoy.

Hey, it’s time to take a break from making that cosplay or buying it off your wishlist, what are you watching/playing/reading to unwind?

I love to play RPGs and adventure games on my PS4 or watching any kind of character-driven type anime in my free time.

It’s cruel to ask what your favorite cosplay is so what are your top three (at most)? Are they the ones being featured or are they different ones?

Formal Wear Okoye, genderbend Vegeta, and genderbend Gaara are my top 3. Only Okoye is being featured this year but that’s because I’ve shared the other two for 28 Days of Black Cosplay in the past.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Mandisa Njeri (@mandisanjeri)

In an alternate universe where money and resources are plentiful, all your bills are paid, and you’ve got nothing but time, what dream cosplays are you doing?

Anthy Himemiya’s rose bride dress from the anime Revolutionary Girl Utena.

What does #28DaysOfBlackCosplay mean to you?

We as Black cosplayers are often overlooked or undervalued due to the color of our skin. Hence, I love #28daysOfBlackCosplay because it allows me to meet and see more Black cosplayers like myself.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Mandisa Njeri (@mandisanjeri)

It’s March 1st, 2021, what would you like to see happen after the 28 days are over?

I would want to keep seeing Black cosplayers shared across social media and featured in articles with the same level of support they receive during the month of February.

What are you looking forward to in 2021? It doesn’t have to be cosplay-related, it can be anything.

In 2021, I will be publishing my second comic book entitled The Locket of Devise so I am very excited about that. My first comic The Kaaiman’s Cry was published August 2020 and had a positive reception. So I’m hoping my newest comic will do just as well if not better. You can get more information on the series via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

Social media time! Tell us where we can find you! Give me as many links as you want. Twitter? TikTok? Patreon? I want it all!

I’m on Instagram and on Airship Ashanti’s Facebook!

And that’s it! Thank you so much, everyone, for following this series throughout the month! I hope you’ve found some new cosplayers to follow, and have become inspired to try cosplay yourself!

Or, if you’re like me, you’ve regained some motivation to cosplay again. Gosh, do I miss cosplay.

(Image: Kueen Kerosene, DarkKendoka Yasuke, and Mandisa Njeri)

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Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)