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Black Cosplayer Appreciation Month: Meet La Jazzi Redd


Xeno

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We finish off Black Cosplay Appreciation Month with a cosplayer of mix race and a plus size participant. Facing discrimination and negative attitude from the fan base and commissioners, this cosplay show resistance towards the hate and rejection and continue to show her creative side and her love for cosplaying and the geek culture centering around being a cosplayer. You can follow Redd on Facebook at Ju Smith or on Instagram at Lajazziredd. Here is her story:

"By day, I'm a data scientist that helps fortune 50 companies decide what information to capture and how to use that information. I've worked on everything from creating social media personas, writing for web, sem/seo, digital & mobile app analytics, digital reputation management to training/teaching and including humanity in algorithims, predictive analytics & strategy. By night, I'm a casual cosplayer who creates costumes and pushes the message that: cosplay is art in motion, and each of us has a place in this community. The message is so important- especially for intersectional cosplayers (like me for example: black & asian, plus sized & disabled).

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Technically, my journey started back in 2002 when my mom & I spent about 80 hours creating my first costume (15th Century, empire waist tea dress for a History project) because my size and proportions made buying a dress impossible. It's really funny to think about how many costumes we created between 2002-2013 that I never counted toward my "cosplay" time because I didn't "know" that was the name for what I did. Officially, in 2013, my friend introduced me to cosplay after realizing that I made the dress she wanted to buy in her size. A few months later, I brought 2 River Song costumes to Wizard World Chicago and spent hours explaining to people how I got my fabric just right, free handed my patterns, and how I made them in general.

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As a plus sized cosplayer, making my entire costume is usually my only option. Most people who take commissions won't take mine (either because I'm too big or my waist/hip difference is too large for them to accommodate), and buying clothes for costumes is even harder than buying clothes for everyday- which is already really hard. As a black & asian cosplayer, race is always a part of the discussion. Either by racial slurs, the micro aggression of "mixed jasmine," being told what characters I cannot cosplay or some weird combination of them. As a disabled cosplayer, the logistics of everything always has to be planned. I'm a part time wheelchair user, so accessibility of getting around is always top of mind. Creating costumes that can easily be adapted to include my wheelchair or a scooter makes the creation process so much harder. Once I add in the anxiety & PTSD, some days I'm fighting against feeling overwhelmed. In general, I know that every con I attend, I will be subjected to hate- race based, size based, able body based, etc. Some moments are really hard because of the sheer volume of hearing it and seeing how many people in our community feel that way. I get asked a lot on how I am so resilient despite the negativity. I don't talk about it often, but I get at least 1 death threat or "go kill yourself" at every con because of my size, race or non able bodied status. But the truth is... I'm so incredibly thankful to every person in my support circle and my family who helped me develop a strong and positive view of myself. I love me, and I hope that can be seen in my cosplay, my support circle reminds me that others love me too, I'm never actually alone- even when I feel that way. , and they hold me accountable. Please find your tribe.

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Honestly... It's so amazing when I see us rally around us and showing how we can carve out our own space within this community I think cosplaying while continue to improve on inclusivity & diversity. I think that technology is going to change the way many of us build costumes, envision characters, and cosplay in general. I hope we get to a future where each of us finds our own safe space within the cosplay community."



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