The Reason This Man Dresses Up as Batman Will Inspire Anyone
For any comic book fan, dressing up as your favorite hero shouldn’t be occasion for criticism. For Charles Conley, he’s gotten used to people questioning why a black man would dress up as Batman, historically a white character. But one recent encounter with a young boy has reaffirmed Conley’s love of cosplaying his favorite hero and it’s a message that will help restore your faith in humanity.
Two weeks ago Conley attended DragonCon in Atlanta, GA, dressed in a highly-detailed Batman costume that could legitimately be mistaken for a costume right off the set of Justice League. Conley shared images of himself in cosplay explaining the trepidation he sometimes has dressing up. (Note: grammatical errors fixed for clarity.)
“As many of you know I’ve had to deal with issues regarding bigots who can’t seem to wrap their mind around the idea of a black guy cosplaying Batman, because ‘Batman is historically white, there are plenty of black characters you could do instead.’ Well I cosplay Batman because I love the character and because representation matters,” wrote Conley.
He continued, saying that his visit to DragonCon showed him the importance of “representation” in comics when he came face to face with a young “POC” (person of color) and what the moment meant to both Conley and the young man.
“I was walking around posing in my Dark Knight when I happened upon a little (POC) boy in a black and yellow batman costume,” wrote Conley. “He couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6. With him was his mother. This little boy saw me approaching and immediately stopped dead in his tracks, tugging at his mother’s hand. I could see him point at his hand (the skin) and then pointing to me. I approached and he was a little intimidated at first as any little kid is when meeting a life-sized armored character.”
Conley said he knelt down and raised his hand to high-five the young man. The child slapped his hand, but said he wanted to ask Conley something.
” ‘Batman’ he said timidly ‘You’re brown, just like me! Does that mean that I can be a real superhero someday too? I don’t see a lot of brown superheroes…,'” wrote Conley.
The question struck Conley hard, causing him to break character and he cried. But Conley made sure to reassure the young boy with an inspiring message.
“If you know me, you know that I don’t ever break character but I broke down when he said that. His words touched the deepest part of my soul,” wrote Conley.
He continued, “I looked this kid dead in the eye and said ‘You can be any superhero you want to be and don’t ever let anyone tell you different. Being a brown superhero is a very special thing and I know you’re going to make a great one.’ ”
Conley concluded, “For kids like this little boy, the idea that you can one day be a superhero, no matter what your skin color is, opens up a whole new world for them. This is why I cosplay.”
That’s a universal message of love and acceptance that should never be forgot.