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A little backstory until now

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Hey Guys, I've been going to fanime since 07, its almost been 10 years straight (Staffed 2 years in a row)!...I originally went to fanime (besides being an anime fan) because a girl I use to like a lot was going and she didnt have a place to stay. So i mustered as much money as I could in high school and with a couple of friends we came down and boy did I have a blast. My first year I only went for 2 days but I got chased and almost robbed over by the pizza hut. Great times, every year I've been going back and there has been so many great memories. I brought my girlfriend and her family 5 years ago and they've loved it every year but they mainly go to clockwork. 

But now days I just feel more and more distant from fanime and the audience. You see I am a black guy and not just for me but for some of my friends we constantly have to deal with people grabbing their purses or walking away from us as if we are going to do things. Always accusing us of something we probably aren't even thinking about. *Sigh* I really hate bringing this up because I dont feel entitled to anything but I feel like when I am working the day to day and I come home play my RPG's and watch Anime/Read manga. I used to believe it was probably just my paranoia, but I bumped into a girl one year and I turned to say sorry(it was a light bump/not used to the crowded hallways) and when I turned to say sorry she was already on the ground going through her bag looking to see if I stole anything...Seriously she thinks people steal like they do in anime...
But anyways.

I just feel that if I went to a convention with other like minds I should feel respected and welcomed. To those who this post may apply to I think I understand where you are coming from....I think.

For those who are in the same situation as me(you dont have to be black/male) care to share some stories?

For those who probably have done what I brought up, or have seen/know someone do it how do you feel you can be honest and share even bad experiences?

The conventions coming up lets all come together ~ :D

Dude, it's ok. As much as I like fanime, it's the only con that has a weird vibe when it comes to the people. Any other con I been to I felt right at home, here it seems like someone was giving me the stink eye.  Not all the time but you know what I mean.

Maybe cause most of the attendees are young and this is their first big con, but the general vibe I get from fanime is very cliquey.

Maybe cause I been spoiled by the amazing times I had at AX's 21+ meet and greets that fanime seems... Well you know.....

 First time I tried to invite random people I meet at panels for a room party the all had the "stranger danger" look after I told them. I would just laugh cause it was comical.  Not everyone is like that but I say the 75% of people I asked said no. It's wasn't like I just went up to the crowd and ask a random, it was after we chatted in line for a while or at a panel of even friends of friends.

But meh, maybe the look of my mug, or not an active cosplayer or what ever, but eh. Some people are just not that social. Guess you have to find like minded people.
Oh snap! see that's the cliquey thing right there.

It also seems to be that what the media has been making people paranoid about large gatherings of people. Speaking for myself i am a very shy person till i get to know someone. So going to cons i have to remember that everyone is here for the fandoms and to enjoy being around like minded people. It also seem to be that anime has been becoming more popular with younger people like Echoshadow mentioned. So for some of us who have been watching anime longer that some attendees have been alive we look weird. Hope im not off point but this is my take on it.

Oh believe me, I can get ranty on this subject, too.

Ultimately, Fanime, like any other place, is filled with some great people and some crappy people. I'm a white female, so the amount of discrimination I face is negligible in comparison to the first poster, but even I have some negative experiences regarding con-goers and race. I dressed as Celty a few years back, and if you're unfamiliar with the character, the cosplay is a tight leather one-piece with a large helmet. It shows no skin, and I painted my neck to add to the "headless" look. As I was running to get somewhere, this guy approaches me and asks, "What race are you?" This is a question POCs may get all the time, but as an obvious white girl, I stood there confused at the question until he saw my wrist peeking through above my glove and said, "oh, you're white. Never mind." To this day, this is the weirdest interaction I've had in cosplay. Why my race matters at all, and why he felt it appropriate to ask a stranger that, is something I still don't understand. Likewise, my boyfriend (who's Cambodian and actually does get the "what race are you?" question all the time) dressed as the original Black Power Ranger one year. He lost count of the amount of times people asked if he was "really black" behind the helmet, and even more inappropriately, if he was "black down there" also. What the hell, people?

I'm also sick of the term "black version" of a cosplay. If an African American girl dresses as Sailor Moon, regardless of if she uses a blonde wig or her natural hair, she is SAILOR MOON, not a "black version of Sailor Moon." It's just straight-up disrespectful to the time and energy that she put into her cosplay to categorize it like that. I don't see us white people being called the "white version" of whatever Japanese character we're cosplaying, so why does it happen to another race?

One last thing regarding race that I've seen around conventions is the idea that "only X race can cosplay Y character." I love Garnet from Steven Universe (who, to be clear, is an alien gem and thus race-less), but I will never, ever cosplay her because I've seen people online tear apart white cosplayers for daring to cosplay her, equating them to racists for their way of showing appreciation for an awesome character. I would understand that mentality if someone were doing offensive blackface, but that's not the case here. Also, no one is taking a character away from any other group; literally anyone can cosplay anything they want. That's kind of the point of cosplay to begin with. I know that that's a very unpopular opinion on some parts of the Internet, but I don't agree with the belief that a fictional character can "belong" to a race.

People are just really, really weird about race. Still. That doesn't stop at the convention doors, unfortunately. We may seem to be a more inclusive bunch, but there are still just as many judgmental people as there are outside the con scene.

Much of the 'stink eye' element is just due to you being an older attendee.  Once you hit the age of 25, especially if you look your age or older, you're going to get a lot of condescending looks not only from younger attendees who will bemoan that you're too old for this and you should 'go adult' somewhere else, but from their parents, many of whom are under the impression that you're out to defile their precious.  As an older attendee, I get those too along with "Which one is yours" comments from other adults.  I've heard from much older con goers (age 50+) that they not only get the parental comments, but are often mistaken for the janitor or other convention related staff.  So, there's what you young'uns have to look forward to experiencing.

Regarding "clutching the purse tighter" because of your race, while not trying to condone it, this is something that happens in society as a whole.  It is not just a Fanime element; I've seen old white women clutch their purses tighter in the mall when passing black teenage boys. I don't think most people are even aware that they do this.  I know I've realized I've clutched my bag tighter after the fact and then wondered why I did it in the first place.

I've been attending Animazement (North Carolina) in lieu of Fanime since 2013.  Unless you've gone to a southern convention, you don't have much of an idea of how bad it can get.  Black people are more or less shunned at the con, doubly so if they try to cosplay a character that is not black or masked.  Woe unto you if you happen to be disabled.  Not only is the convention center itself a horrible place to navigate in a wheelchair as there are two elevators, spaced down a long hall from each other, and one elevator will take you to the top floor and the other to the bottom floor...but not both.  Not only that, but the city itself is not designed to handle wheelchairs, with steep hills and inaccessible sidewalks.  This doesn't even include the narrow dealer hall aisles, nor the people who would smack against my friend's foot, crying "I just wanna get through!".  My friend was confined to a wheelchair due to a car accident 3 months before the convention and I was the one pushing her around the con the entire weekend.  Con staff were very callous, refusing to create a special line to accommodate people with special needs and forced them to stand with everyone.

As bad as you think Fanime is in this regard, Animazement is far worse.


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