The world needs more people like Charles Conley, a 25-year-old student at Kennesaw State University, who became a real-life superhero for one little boy.
In a Facebook post that has since gone viral, Conley shared the story of what happened at this year’s Dragon Con in Atlanta.
You see, Conley was dressed up in his homemade Batman costume, something he does regularly and professionally as a part of cosplay. As he strolled through the convention, a 6-year-old boy tugged on his mother’s arm as Conley approached.
When Conley held up his hand for a high-five, the boy slapped it as hard as he could with an equally big smile across his face. But then he said something that warmed Conley’s heart and made him realize exactly why he cosplays like this.
“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 superheroes!”
Conley removed his mask (the #1 no-no for Batman), revealing his face and the tears streaming from his eyes. He wrote:
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. I then ignored my #1 batman rule and removed my cowl so he could see my face. His face lit up and I teared up even more. 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.’ He nodded, still grinning. I put my cowl back on, wiping away the remaining tears and trying to get back in to character.
Blackface, brownface, and yellow face have been used as a means to belittle and disenfranchise (people of color) for centuries. But at the end of the day, after you’ve had your ‘fun’ wearing someone else’s skin, you get to take it off. People of color, however, have to live with this skin and the hardships that come with it daily.
He’s right. As much as many would like to say it doesn’t exist, there is still segregation. A divider still exists between white, black, asian, and latino groups. We can’t say that #AllLivesMatter when our current society’s behavior is telling us otherwise every single day. But Conley is spreading light in the darkness through a simple, yet powerful, Facebook post. It’s a beauty that would transform this world, if more people would adopt this way of thinking.
“I don’t need to paint my skin white to cosplay as Batman, because me being brown doesn’t make me any less qualified.”
No it doesn’t.
As the father of three black children, I couldn’t agree with him more. We are constantly telling our 14-year-old daughter she can be whoever she wants to be, and do whatever she wants to do with her life. There are no limitations. We celebrate the amazing artistic ability of my 15-year-old daughter. She will go places and lead people someday in powerful ways. We’re sure of it. And when our 13-year-old son sits down at the piano and creates beautiful melodies, our hearts warm. We’re certain his abilities will move the hearts of many someday. Beyond their abilities or gifts, however, is the truth that they stand in complete equality with all other human beings. There is no difference. There is no divide. There never should be.
So, yes, we do need more superheroes like Charles Conley in this world. We need men or women like him to remind us, and our children, what is true and right. We need them to help all of us shine light into the darkness that can sometimes feel all-consuming.
For that 6-year-old boy, meeting Batman in real-life was a life-changing moment he’ll never forget. And that’s a good thing!
h/t: WSB-TV Atlanta
Originally published on Babble