ICC: Yeah. Where is your island?

Stitch: I’m from St. Thomas.

ICC: Oh, you’re so close.

Stitch: I lived in Puerto Rico when I was really little. I have family there in San Juan. And so I was just like, it’s really a feeling of, “oh, it’s literally my people.”

ICC: Yeah. I am your people.

Stitch: As Arondir is my people and so it was really cool. I think it’s going to be a similar experience for a lot of the Lord of the Rings fans of color who’ve spent years thinking, “I wish I could see myself. I wish we could be elves,” and I really like that you are a game changer.

ICC: That’s what we’re here for and that’s the mission, and you touched on something else that… It’s just the conversation gets so complex too, I’m a black person, people from the Caribbean, we’re Afro-descendants, we’re black too, so even this conversation, people get really crazy, “He’s not black, he’s Puerto Rican!”

Dot: Oh my God.

ICC: Even this conversation, they don’t know what to make of it all, they just don’t know. There’s so much talk and discomfort, but it’s so good too, because there’s people like us, there’s a lot of goodness in the fandom too, you know? And they come in and they charge us, and they engage in those conversations, they educate the fandom, they emphasize how important it is, they give so much love. You know, it’s not just that dark shadow of people, they really are the loudest.

Dot: Yeah.

ICC: Because the rest of us are just living our lives, thriving. [Chuckles.] You know, blessed and highly favored. But it feels like all of these conversations are very necessary, because as you said, our peoples, we are here and it’s not just that we want to be, it’s that we have to be included. Period. We need to be included because we exist here. You know what I mean?

Point: Absolutely.

ICC: So it’s so cool that now little kids are just going to be able to play, you know, like dressing up as Arondir and not having to mentally build the bridges, you know, that we had to build.

Stitch: We are part of the fantasy. How about life the Lord of the Rings fans of color like me, like people in my family who can finally see themselves here?

ICC: We have finally arrived. [Laughs.] I think we made it happen, you know, even though we didn’t know each other, I think we did it collectively in a lot of ways, supporting each other, imagining each other, occupying spaces, because there are a lot of brave cosplayers, building this. These cosplayers also get that backlash, you know, but they still dress like their favorite anime characters, they still dress like their favorite elves, they still dress like whatever their inner child wants to express that they know they should be part of it. I met them. I met them at Comic-Con. I’ve felt and seen and heard firsthand how emotional this is for all of us and it’s also healing for all of us, you know?