Little boy to Batman: 'You're brown, just like me!'


When 25-year-old Charles Conley, a Kennesaw State University student, donned his homemade Batman costume for this year's Dragon Con in Atlanta, an encounter with a young boy at the popular sci-fi convention inspired an important conversation about representation.

>> Read more trending stories

The boy, about 5 or 6 years old, tugged on his mother's hand when he saw Conley in character at the convention.

Conley, metal armor and all, approached the boy for a high-five.

"With all the force he could muster he slapped my hand, with the biggest smile on his face," Conley chronicled in a Facebook post, which has garnered more than 12,000 likes and 5,000 shares as of Monday.

"You're brown, just like me!" the boy said to him. "Does that mean that I can be a real superhero someday too? I don't see a lot of brown superheros (sic) ..."

In that moment, Conley ignored his "#1 batman rule and removed (his) cowl" to show the boy his face, tears and all.

"You can be any superhero you want to be and don't let anyone tell you different," Conley told him.

"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," he wrote.

"This is why I cosplay. This is why I'm The Batman. #RepresentationMatters."

Conley, a California transplant who has called Georgia home for 10 years now, works two full-time jobs and is currently seeking a teaching degree at KSU.

He cosplays regularly and professionally, but told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that ever since his story went viral, cosplayers of color, which he said make up a very small percentage of the cosplay community, have been sharing experiences in which they felt the color of their skin has either prevented them or discouraged them from portraying a certain character.

"Blackface, brownface and yellow face have been used as a means to belittle and disenfranchise (people of color) for centuries," he said. But at the end of the day, after you've had your "fun" wearing someone else's skin, you get to take it off, he said.

People of color, however, have to live with this skin and the hardships that come with it daily, he said.

"I don't need to paint my skin white to cosplay as Batman, because me being brown doesn't make me any less qualified," Conley said, adding that unlike Batman, most people aren't billionaires in real life, either.

Conley said he hopes cosplayers of color let their costumes speak for themselves. Put the work in and love the skin you're in, he said.

"Make that character YOU."


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation World

Gradual weekend warm-up; Possible light showers to cause slick roads
Gradual weekend warm-up; Possible light showers to cause slick roads

Gradual warm-up this weekend Wet Sunday into Monday Colder with snow showers Tuesday TODAY: Increasing clouds and breezy for the day with temperatures climbing to the lower 40s. However, winds will make it feel like the upper 20s to lower 30s during the afternoon. Areas of light drizzle and mist will develop tonight as temperatures dip into the mid...
Autopsy report: Roy Halladay had drugs in system when plane crashed
Autopsy report: Roy Halladay had drugs in system when plane crashed

An autopsy on former major-leaguer Roy Halladay showed that he had amphetamines, morphine and a sleep aid in his system when he died in a plane crash off the west coast of Florida, The Tampa Bay Times reported Friday. Halladay, 40, died Nov. 7 from blunt force trauma with drowning as a contributing factor, according to the Pinellas-Pasco Medical...
Massachusetts couple accidentally donates savings hidden in a soup can
Massachusetts couple accidentally donates savings hidden in a soup can

Amanda Mattuchio said her parents use a fake can of Campbell's Tomato Soup to hide their cash. Unfortunately, they stored it alongside real soup cans in their kitchen. “The bottom would unscrew and it had $2,500 in it and it was a combination of $100 and $50 bills,” she said. “The neighbor upstairs asked them if they had any canned...
70 years of focusing on diplomacy, global affairs
70 years of focusing on diplomacy, global affairs

For 70 years, the Dayton Council on World Affairs has been working to engage and educate in our region on the intricacies and importance of global events. As the group readies for its anniversary celebration, we spoke with Monica Schultz, its board president, and board member Carolyn Rice about the history and mission of the council. To learn more...
Senate fails to pass budget; government shutdown now official 
Senate fails to pass budget; government shutdown now official 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the budget battle in Congress (all times local): 12:00 a.m. The government shutdown is now official, as the deadline has been reached with no deal in place. The White House released a statement on what they are calling the ‘Schumer Shutdown:’ “Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown. Tonight...
More Stories