Black to the Future

Then’s Lt. Uhuru and now’s Officer Dualla: Sisters, still answering the phone in the future after all this time. Is this like nursing where almost all the switchboard operators are black and they get together and gossip about the white folks on break?

Who knew segregation would STILL be a problem millions of years in the future?

Once you get past the arrogance of humans assuming we’re going to last that long, sci-fi is really an enjoyable medium, one of my favorite in fact. I loved Star Trek (crappy 70s and brilliant Next Gen). I’m getting into the new Battlestar Gallactica. I love anything with a cyborg in it (save “Universal Soldier.”) I even like Japanese anime (futuristic, dreamy, erotic, Hitchcockian, robotic or apocalyptic please — or all those things at once. Fuck a Dragonball).

But when it comes to black people and the future the baddest mo fo we have are Lando and Worf and one of those two is not supposed to be a “black” guy (although he is a “black” Klingon). And as hard as I stan for some Michael Dorn doing some sacrificial bloodletting at his own wedding, I’m still wondering why we, as brown people, haven’t made to the future when we vastly out number our European homies?

I mean … shouldn’t the future be more … brown?

(More after jump)

Aside from The Matrix Trilogy (which we’re not going to talk about lest I start dropping f-bombs like it’s WWIII), the future is amazingly Negroless, where did we go?

Some theories anyone? (Besides the obvious: the writers are white and don’t know, don’t show, or don’t care about writing us into the future.)


1. Segregation. Most of us are working the elevator lifts and have other shitty jobs no one else wants.

2. New DNA technology allows us to be “bred” out making, white skin a dominate gene trait.

3. Still too broke for space!

4. New technology allows people the choice on whether to be born black or not. God. Was that a story in “Faces At the Bottom of the Well” because that sounds scary as shit.

5. Hey! That AIDS finally worked. Wait. What?

OK. I’ve officially scared myself with all these oddly plausible scenarios. Anyone else got a theory on how we got left behind?

53 thoughts on “Black to the Future

  1. I kinda believe a pandemic will be the cause. Seriously, most sci fi novelists have been white men who write mainly for their targeted audiences. Issac Asimov, whom I loved for his non-fiction mainly, almost exclusively used white male characters in his stories, as did others.

  2. Something is wrong with you! HAH!! I love all of these above … the only thing I can think of is that we all picked up and left… outside of that it make no sense. We are the back bones of everything in the world we are the future that is for sure!! But I am intrigued as to what would set off all the F bombs about Matrix?…Does it have anything to do with Sophia Stewart? Spill it… spill it… 😀

  3. Have you seen DS9 yet? The only Star Trek with a black captain, who even says he doesn’t like holodeck programs set in the 20th century because of Jim Crow.

  4. Hey don’t forget Benjamin Sisko on Star Trek: DS9! He rocked. And he had a black wife with a career of her own who stood up to him, comforted him and supported him. And was totally cute. His son Jake was cute too. In the UK we had a sci-fi series called Red Dwarf with a mixed race "captain" and a black cat/guy (don’t ask), twas a cult classic. So there are a few, though of course not nearly enough for my tastes.

  5. I think its the science fantasy (white fantasy that is) of science fiction genres that is the cause of this. The "Wouldn’t it be great if they just weren’t around?" feeling that authors (intentionally or not) illicited in their readers. The "they" of course would be anyone ranging from brown on down. I call it the Flintstones-Jetsons Phenomena. We won’t exist in the future because we didn’t exist in the past. *sigh*

  6. Hey Danielle,I Have something that has been on my mind for a while. I have been thinking about the deal with the liberals and liberal media. It is true that the MSM is responsible for most of what society deems is good and what is bad, and it is also true that MSN has liberal leanings. Do you see where I am going? I am a Democrat, although, I have been upset as of late to find out about some of the racist history of the party. I know that was a long time ago and the demographics shifted alot since then, but do you think that the underlying racism of the Democratic party is still in tact? I mean, we champion some good stuff now, but did the platform have to change so much to get blacks who were disenfranchised?

  7. @Snob: This post is hilarious! I’m into sci-fi books/movies/show and some sci-fi anime (Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Outlaw Star are my faves) but I never noticed the lack of color in the future. When it comes to books, Ray Bradbury’s Martian Cronicles short-story "Way Up in the Middle of the Air" is the only thing that I can think of where Blacks are the main focus of the story.And do tell (w/ or w/o the f-bombs) your feelings about the Matrix Trilogy. Does it have something to do w/ the Wachowskis stealing the story from a sista?@John: Yeah, your right, "Deep Space 9" had brothas comin’ up but unfortunately they’re stuck babysitting space stations. IMO, it was the least exciting of all of the Star Trek shows. If Sisko had been the captain on "Voyager" that would have made an even more interesting show.

  8. I in no way am trying to bash anybody on the left, I am just think out loud. I have been wondering if there is really some conspiracy in this all? Do the Democrats have the true interests of blacks at heart? I mean, the Republican mantra as of today is Take Responsibility for Yourself, and Government Doesn’t Solve Problems, They Create Them. Has expansion of government really invented some problems for blacks? Im really young and have just started paying attention to government, even though I always believed I knew the difference between a liberal and a conservative.

  9. Bottom line i guess is, Are liberals really good for black americans? Or are they just telling us what we want to hear and really sinking us? I mean, don’t get me wrong, im not one of those, blame government for everything that is bad people. i just don’t trust governement. i don’t trust the IRS, and I don’t trust politicians either. i just don’t trust anybody, not when it comes to really caring about the poorest among us.

  10. @ All TrekkiesI loved DS9 AFTER they fixed the show, gave Sisko a personality and added some Worf. (Worf makes everything better!) Hated his son though. Star Trek does a shitty job with kids. Poor Wesley Crusher, anyone? Worf’s punk ass son? Only the Frengie kid was cool.@ NAGROMYou have to separate the political philosophy of Liberalism from human beings. Liberalism, itself, is not racist. Human beings are. And the Democratic party wasn’t always Liberal. They were populist and populists are for the working majority, hence the racist past as the majority they were supporting were unions who didn’t want to share jobs with blacks, poor Southerners and others who benefited from us retaining our second class status. Any party can be taken over by a populist revolt. Hell, the Republicans are facing a populist insurgency right now. They were once the party of abolitionism, yet they battle a constant streak of hostility towards minorities.As for the government, it’s not about trust, for me, it’s a bout vigilance. You get the government you elect. It’s your duty as a citizenry to be engaged, informed and active. Your tax dollars are going towards this sucker anyway. You might as well get what you can out of it and make sure it does what it is supposed to do. Besides, there are some things so big that you need the government. Our problem is if you vote in someone incapable of handling, say, a devastating natural disaster, government will look pointless. But I’d argue that in other cases (WWII, Medicare, Social Security, Pell Grants, the military, etc.), they do necessary things.But it’s your job to keep an eye on things.As for the Sci-fi, I honestly think Josh Whedon, et al, just aren’t thinking about black people. Ayn Rand wasn’t thinking about the brown masses when she wrote The Fountain or Atlas Shrugged. Ray Bradbury wasn’t thinking about burning Negroes. This has to do with culture and who the gate keepers are. Unless more blacks write, purchase and participate in Sci-Fi there will be fewer parts.

  11. *Ahem*Well, most of the auteurs in the SF genre have grown up seeing and participating in a cultural circuit where the people they’ve communicated with were presumably white. Not saying that there haven’t been black geeks forever, but in arenas– mailing lists, behind-the-scenes, online venues–where you don’t necessarily know there are people of color, the white supremacist assumption is to give everyone equal credit for being white (and male) unless DIFFERENCE suddenly gets introduced. Especially among youth, not because kids are cruel, but because they don’t know any better and their parents are usually not good at schooling them otherwise. This is true for any medium, right? If you only ever hear that white dudes write books, you write books and show us pictures of book-writers who are usually white dudes, unless otherwise specified. Most of the time, racial difference is there to "teach a lesson" or "make a point," as the fact that we even have to have a conversation to explain "why so few negroes" evidences.Now, the more sophisticated explanation says, oh ho, well, in the future, these black people may look subordinated, but you have to remember that they all feel equal, because racism is not as much of an issue. To which I say, sure, yeah, but if you’re the actual! black! woman! playing Zoe on Firefly or Dualla on BSG, you’re the odd woman out, in the industry, when you look around at your peers on the set. Because all those points about how liberated everybody should be are there to be made in the future, not in the present by, say, casting and employing many, many more people of color to reflect how diverse California, or Vancouver, or New York, or the planet where you”re actually shooting, really is. The majority of the people in the world are not white. But the majority of the ones who make up the societies we see on TV, and the ones driving the action, are– unless we’re supposed to be looking at a shocking! expose! of racism! So you won’t see a majority of the gainful, enfranchised, fully-employed participants in a TV ensemble or film, in front of and behind the camera be people of color except in venues that are specifically, nay, affirmatively, acting to make that performance a route to rewarding diversity and shared opportunities. This isn’t a problem for fancy action sci fi future TV, so much as it’s a problem that evidences the disconnect between liberal Hollywood’s ideal vision of itself (we’re not racist! See? Kandyse McClure loves her job! which may be true enough, in which case, get down girl, go head, get down) and the utter blindness with which it operates when it comes to hiring and writing for the characters it’s sending into the "liberated" future. At least, until later seasons, when even that promise that "these negroes will be hella liberated– in the future!" gets sent hunting with Dick Cheney, to give Apollo more angsty screen time.

  12. @ serenaWell, that’s why I asked for joke/sci-fi explanations for the lack of Negroes rather than your reasoned, obvious observation.Perhaps we’re all aliens and our home planet finally came and got us to return us back to the real "Motherland." Wait? Wasn’t THAT from Faces From the Bottom of the Well, only it involved the slave trade? I need to stop scaring myself.

  13. Also, lay off Alexander! If he was kinda whack as a Klingon, it’s because Klingons are the negroes of the universe. They’re never allowed to be sensitive (gay) Wesley Crusher or even …bland Jake Sisko (who as a "war correspondent" is probably about as actually talented as Anderson Cooper). Ferengi homeboy (Nog) was my president, though, I feel you on that.

  14. If you haven’t already check out Cosmic Slop. One of the three vignettes is space related, (the one starring Robert Guillame), where the aliens make a deal with white America. The martians (or whatever they are) solve all of Earth’s problems if all Black people get on board the space ship and leave the planet. You can guess how fast White America decides to close that deal.

  15. @ BluTopazYeah, I’ve seen Cosmic Slop and that story is from "Faces At the Bottom of the Well." It’s a short story series I read as a kid. I can’t recall the author, but he was black. Very good book. But I’m pretty sure that segment was part of the reason the show was never renewed.

  16. Thank you for telling me that. I don’t know a lot about sci fi and I wondered where that story came from, and how HBO had the balls to air it.

  17. One just has to wonder about how big network folks think the black sci fi audience is I suppose. Most sci fiers are dorky white guys still (although my own presence at the Baltimore Comic Con is proof that this is changing). To me sci fi needs a little bit of a rebranding as do comic cons. The market is widening but the same herd of drooling girlfriendless mysathropes still run the party. (I know I’ll catch heat for that).PS I’m bringing Y:The Last Man series with me on the trip DB you’ll love it, has a gorgeous black woman as a major lead, if not the pivotal character. The whole series is a huge step forward. Tho of course, most white dudes think the endings depressing.

  18. Girl, I knew there was a reason why i come to your blog even when i’m tired as hell. I just put Mr. Bell’s book on my reading list.

  19. I’m glad I’m not the only one who remembers Benjamin Sisko. One of the most well rounded characters in sci-fi. Strangely enough, Ron Moore, show runner for BSG, was working for DS9.

  20. Thanks Danielle. you always give great insight. It must be the people. Im s Democrat, nonetheless, but my Crazy libertarian teacher had a chick questioning her politics. I always ask you for advice, I like to hear both sides.

  21. There is a prominent black character on Star Gate, one of my fave shows-Teal’k (sp?). Lt. Uhura and the random black people who are usually sacrifced at the begining of the movie….oh yea, Sam Jackson and Billy D in Star Wars…..Whoopi on TNG was it?Anyway, please pick up an Octavia Butler noverlor 2.Amazing, easy to read books w/ people of color protagonists!! Nerds unite!!

  22. I had a MEGA crush on Wesley Crusher. I think I may have stolen a Bop magazine with him on the cover cuz I knew my Moms was def not buying it for me. The boy was a nerd girls dreamboat.

  23. Y: The Last Man is a GREAT comic book series (don’t tell me the end yet I haven’t finished)! Sorry, I felt the need to agree w/ Dot.

  24. You’re just "getting into the new Battlestar Galactica"? The shows just ended after 5/6 years. That aside, if YT and co don’t have a place for us in their stories that’s their business. Given the disregard for the fundamental importance of science held by black/brown people throughtout the world (and more shamefully those raised in the West), it’s quite easy to imagine a future where we, due to a lack of and failure to apply scientific and technical knowledge, are on the periphery when it comes to affecting important matters (especially if writers have no regard to do otherwise). Hence in the semi-realistic dystopian stories which have always been popular the likelihood of influential scientists being black, such as Will Smith’s virologist in I Am Legend (which the character wasn’t in the original story) are slim. On the upside, since writers can create their own worlds, change the laws of physics, manipulate human physiology and give characters and objects unexplained supernormal powers etc, in SF the possibilities for black writers are endless. How about an alien invasion in the antebellum South or the adventures of Nation of Islam colonists inhabiting a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri engaged in interstellar warfare with 10 foot green men from a neighbouring planet? Sounds far fetched? No more so than what’s already been written.

  25. Agreed…Minorities will always be 2nd class citizens …in film…as long as we don’t own the means of film production or film distribution. I’m still throwing-up in my mouth a little bit when I think about the Best Actress award for ……wait for it…."Monster’s Ball". BSG is a Canadian production, despite James Edward Almos. In addition, Ron Moore, BSG’s creator and Executive Producer was also a main writer for Star Trek DS9. So, what did he learn from that experience? He learned, by example of the BSG Series Finale, that by perpetuating White Supremacy in popular cultural mythology, he will be sent on into syndication heaven for many, many years. Because, of all the Star Trek series out there, DS9 is the least popular ……because……..?????? Hmmmmm? Oh, Yeah…!!!If you didn’t catch the ending of BSG: Advanced humans..all Earth inhabited by primitave "black" folks, decide to chuck technology overboard and go native, and end up a thousand years later building another New York City. The black woman in the BSG series you spoke of committed suicide…before they found Earth….What the Frack?Good thing that in the "real world" African-Americans are well represented within the cadre of NASA Astronauts.Now, if they could only stop blowing up space shuttles every time a brother is on-board with white women.Hmmm? Is it just me or is that a little tooooooo much of a coincedence? Two fatal shuttle accidents, an African-American male on board each one, white women on board each one. I just knew that the brother that played sax was toast. Could you imagine that scene on the shuttle when he started playing "A Love Supreme" by John Coltrane instead of some fake-jazz Kenny G, BS?NASA: This is Houston calling. Is someone playing jazz sax up there?Shuttle: Houston, this is the shuttle commander, switch over to the scrambled channel.NASA: Roger, are clear to speak freely.Shuttle: Houston, we got a problem up here. That NEGRO is playing some wild, jungle music on that sax that’s got all the females going buck-wild up here…Over?NASA: Uh, Roger…uh… Commander. We’ll get back to you.Shuttle: BOOOOOOOOOOOM….!!!!

  26. @ somethingtosayWell, it wasn’t Star Trek, so I pretty much ignored the thing. Then all this shit was going on, so yeah, I missed it and a lot of other television.I also didn’t have cable for five years. And obsessive wrote a blog, two newspaper columns, newspaper articles and my own screenplays, so … um … I was a tad occupied at the time.But I really like the show. Please stop talking about the ending, guys. I know it just happend, but I’m only on season two. I NEED to see how the sista will answer the phone when the Cylons attack again. This means a lot to me.

  27. girl sometimes you are all in my brain. i’ve been having virtually this same conversation with friends about sci-fi/fantasy books where we’re even more invisible (if that’s actually possible)

  28. @ NicoleI LOVE sci-fi, but until there proves to be a black business market for it, more gospel plays for us. I write sci-fi/comics occasionally and it just kills me how people like Gina Torres, Dwayne Johnson, even Denzel (for fun and a check) isn’t beating the crap out of something to beautiful special effects.


  30. I feel you about our presence in Sci-fi. I implore you to see Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. A great cast, and done in cutting-edge animation. Ving Rhames voices one of the characters, as well as Ming-Na Wen. It is intelligent and fascinating. I remember we had a presence in the movie. CC

  31. @ Domino49 (Miss Belton please do not read this comment through, although prior knowledge BSG’s ending might save your blood from boiling when catch up on later series)"What the Frack?" indeed. The finale was a mess, as non-sensical and as anti-climatic as the Matrix sequels. The implications of the hybrid mitachondrial Eve in terms of the plot are completely stupid (how would they know about Earth if humans hadn’t been there before?) and in terms of the writers imagined input on human evolution completely thoughtless and insensitive, if not downright racists.Also did you notice how the only black Ceylon is completely incidential from the first series to the last? They couldn’t even break him off half a sub-story in 80+ episodes.

  32. Here’s an idea: We took over earth and cast out all the fucktards making . . . we’ll call them "poor decisions." In the future we’ve also eliminated the prison system through rehabilitation – of stupid; AIDS is irradicated when a natural cure, similar to carrying an allele for sickle-cell (see wikipedia "Sickle-cell) disease, makes it difficult for us brown people to catch or spread the virus. As a result, a sexual revolution emerges for the purpose of mixing the races as fast and as thoroughly as genetically possible. The white people who fear this trend and can afford space exploration flee to space. Peace on Earth soon follows.That is my future!

  33. @somethingtosayPuuuleeeezzzzzzzzzz…!!! It’s bad enough that "liberal" Hollywood writers always seem to find a way to kill-off black characters. But, Dualla’s death (suicide?)was just the pits and served as nothing more than "cheap-plot-pornography" to undermine her true good character and give a moment of human reflection to the rest of the characters that inhabit this bunch of NAZI’s (Cylons AND Humans) in space. I found it HIGHLY offensive that she would be smitten by Capt. Apollo, a true WEAKLING among the cast, marry him, allow him to masterbate inside her while dreaming of Starbuck, give him permission to divorce her and go after his TRUE love, Starbuck..who KNEW he was a REAL punk, write her as the only person in the cast with true empathy (as usual for black MAMMY), and then have her die by her own hand rather than die with dignity in battle. Man, that must have taken all of about 5 minutes for the writers to decide, considering the complications her character would have brought to that mega-mess of a BSG Finale. With regard to the Cylons, I thought that it was typical…no…STEREOTYPICAL…for Ron Moore to RE-IMAGINE(?) the only black male Cylon as a bootlicking chump. Gee, ya think? Boy, you can take the white writer out of Hollywood, but he will still bring his "Dixie/Paranoid" mindset up north to Canada.Let’s face it, BSG, despite all the, "RE-IMAGINED", BS, hype would have been a "wordy" failure if not for the character, #6. What? Yeah, I said it….!!!. It’s all about the porn and white male domination of women, despite the so-called feminist nod to….a "dying" female president. Consider the Finale. The weakest and most deceptive male, Baltar, ended up with the Playboy bunny(#6), who by the way could beat up any man on the planet. All at once a sexual fantasy and mother love for weak men. Apollo was too weak for Starbuck, but, not too weak for empathy and "Mammy-Love" from Dualla. Sister’s, any lessons in there about black women only being the "2nd choice" of successful and powerful white men? Don’t forget that the Chief strangled Tory (minority female Cylon and Final 5 member) to death without "anyone" suggesting it was MURDER? Not even her fellow Final 5 Cylons? Soooo, the not-so-subtle implication is that you can murder black women…but…only if they lie to you…..WOW…!! Offensive?????I could go on, but as I suggested before, until we own the means of film production and film distribution…sit down and STFU or gripe on Black Snob or wait for "Big Sweaters in Atlanta" to do another "crayon drawing plot" of a movie, for the non-literate. Yeah…I said it…!!!! BTW, I ain’t hatin’ on Big Sweaters in Atlanta. He got paid…but, so did Halle and the actress that portrayed Dualla…without any regard for the emotional toll it takes on the African and minority people of the world by viewing this white pop culture propaganda. Tap, Tap, Tap…!!!!In the mean time, everyone should look into the Michigan Film Grants that AREN’T going to minority applicants. Gee, they want to encourage "filmmakers to stay home in America" by offering them substantial financial (taxpayer) help, but, qualified African-Americans filmmakers (taxpayers?) can’t get a grant. Hmmmmm? In Detroit? With Michigan leading the way in unemployment? Qualified brothers from Hollywood can’t get any grant money to make movies in Michigan??????? Man, those are pretty high standards….NOT…!!!!So much for Ms. Gov. of Michigan Democrat being such a liberal. Everyone is liberal, until you start talking about explaining giving MONEY to African-Americans to make movies. "Shouldn’t they (WE) be on welfare instead of scamming (tricksters?) money out of the "hard working" whites-only taxpayers of Michigan?"If we want to make OUR movies about OUR lives and relationships..we better start making deals with African despots. Let’s face it, at least the scenery would be great and the weather would be a lot nicer than Canada.And yes, I refused to go and see, or even rent the recent Oscar winning movie about those "CUTE" little Indian ghetto kids. To quote Field Negro: "The Jigging Must Stop"

  34. And I thought I was the lone black male with sci-fi nerd-ish tendencies. I loved me some DS9, me and my Dad, were RELIGIOUS viewers. Sisko had confidence. Side note: Avery Brooks is a Shakespearean trained actor as well. Star Wars (not the prequels…flamin hot garbage) Star Trek TNG and DS9. Anime/hentai….Samurai Champloo (still my favorite to this day and I caught up to that when I returned from Peace Corps) As for the underrepresentation, I can’t be upset. Look at some movies that have been whitewashed. 21: about some Asians that swindle Vegas casinos….turns into a YT that is the lead guy with Asian auxiliary support. The new Dragon Ball Z movie (which looks floptastic by the way)…some non-descript YT plays Goku who looks unmistakably Asian influenced on the cartoon. So for BP’s to be up in arms…why? It happens to everyone. Now, Octavia Butler’s jawns need to be made into movies. I think some of the indy type sci fi movies are good like Sunshine…great cast and very diverse (had the woman from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon…the South Asian guy from Collateral Damage). A big budget sci fi movie is hard to do and stay true to sci fi which is why *sci fi movie theory upcoming* there is generally one very very good sci fi movie per decade. This decade is the exception… with Sunshine and Children of Men (those are the ones I thought of off the top). Next could have been great if they had stuck to the story in the book.

  35. Come to NYC…The future is Asian honey…i guess you didn’t get the memo…^600,000 people in Flushing,NY…all chinese…Brooklyn has .pakistanii,sikhs,,,Hindi..asians all over NY..The Asian Century,,,,Its here…hasn’t got to St Louis yet….I guess..

  36. Well yes, it could be better in Sci-Fi but often it can be better than regular tv. For instance, even the original Star Trek, had Uhura, Sulu (rare to see an Asian male at that time or now) of course Worf and Sisko in the later ones, you had the First Wave, with a very serious multi-layerd black co-star, and in the 90’s the Outer Limits had a fair number of black folks on the show. Even the original BattleStar did a way better job than the new one with a black Col Tighe (who was not a drunk or a reprobate but a model officer at all times) and a black male Boomer, who was also a first class officer- a little too much of a side buddy but still he was there. And in the new Doctor Who there have been a number of black guest stars with big parts in their episodes and 2 black companions (a first). Actually the main reason why I think Sci-Fi is a little better than regular tv is b/c once when my mother came to visit and I demanded to watch my regular sci-fi shows and after a day she said, "THere sure are a lot of black people on the sci-fi channel" Not that there are tons, but it is better than our rate on sit-coms and on many dramas too. Enough for her to notice. I think it is really down to white privilige and producers ASSuming that white folks can’t see anyone but themselves on a screen (even though black folks, hispanic folks, Asian folks, Indigenous people in this country have had to deal with that for years).But yes, I think in the distant future black women won’t just be answering the phones. No idea what the deal was with D, but at least with Uhuru they had 60’s sexism as an excuse. I’ve recently watched some old 60’s shows and the sexism is really blatant.

  37. Ah the problem with Star Gate which is my favorite sci-fi is that the non-whites are all aliens! Tealc, alien, Ronon, Alien. Ford? Well Ford is the exception but they didn’t know what to do with him and killed him off. This might change in the new series. But the big problem is, the writers are in and mostly from Canada. Canada has a tiny amount of blacks and slightly larger populations of S. Asians and Middle-Eastern elasticities. The writers aren’t even thinking it. I’m not a white writer (not black either) though I am culturally white, and in my own fiction I have always struggled MIGHTLY with putting non-whites in roles. I’m always terrified of Tokenism.

  38. Just passing by, but I’m a big sci-fi fan.Sisko was the best character on that show, and don’t forget he was also The Prophet to an entire world. Tuvok was cool too.Octavia Butler writes great sci-fi with lots of "color"ful characters.Also check out Stirling’s "Dies the Fire" series. Its dystopian fiction (all chemical combustion suddenly stops) but in the aftermath all the hero groups are multicultural with lots of characters of color.The "Ring of Fire" serious also has some great black characters that get transported back to 17th century Europe. Hilarity ensues.

  39. Most scifi videos are taken from books; and as MNPundit says, and there’s limits to what can be imagined, its not just tokenism. I had a pretty diverse social circle before I moved, but I couldn’t see myself extrapolating how the culture of black humans evolves going forward. And really, in much of scifi the plot is the point, not the characters. I really don’t care who figures out how to use Unobtainium to power the DiPortal Transmogrifier or who uses it to do whatever. its what happens not who did it. There is multi-cultural scifi out there like Neuromancer (I know, old; but I don’t read much scifi anymore). how do you show the melding of cultures explained in that book on a screen?

  40. Is Geordi La Forge somehow not black? Do nerdy engineers just not count?How can no one remember him? Come on!

  41. As for the Sci-fi, I honestly think Josh Whedon, et al, just aren’t thinking about black people.Um, a black woman was 1st officer on Joss Whedon’s space opera show. And a black man was a key member of the crew.On TV, not counting aliens or shows set in current time like Heroes or Fringe, a black man was the senior officer on DS9 as has been previously noted. Note as well that the chief engineer in ST:TNG and the navigator in ST:E were black men. Colonel Tigh on the original Battlestar Galactica was a black man, as was Boomer. On Babylon 5 the chief surgeon was a black man. On Red Dwarf the last human alive in the universe was a black man (as was the actor who portrayed the descendant of a cat). Doctor Who has had two black companions, one of each gender, during the current run. The post-apocalyptic shows Jerimiah and Jericho both had a black man as one of the two leads.Expand the search to people of color in general and you have the elder Adama and Boomer (and Hotdog!) in the new BSG, Bylar Crais in Farscape, Hikaru Sulu, Harry Kim, Chakotay and Hoshi Sato in various Treks. I’m sure I’m missing some from stuff I don’t watch or that have just slipped my mind.Not to say it couldn’t be better. Only Captain Sisko from DS9 and Dave Lister from Red Dwarf could be considered anything like the main characters of their respective shows and many people of color are still represented quite stereotypically. Black women are still too often relegated to answering the phone or something similarly ephemeral to the plot. The Japanese seem a bit over-represented in a sparsely populated Asian demographic. A fact I found most astonishing in Firefly in which they often spoke Chinese but never actually encountered any Han people… or anyone else from Asia for that matter. Hispanics, aside from the Olmos clan, seem to be absurdly rare in the TV future and southern asians, from Vietnam to Saudi Arabia, absolutely non-existent.Film is similar but I think a bit better – and I agree with Lisa J above that SF TV is a bit better than mainstream TV. On the big screen Will Smith alone has had as many far-future leading roles as TV has ever given us (that would be 2, I, Robot and I Am Legend). However, since finding a third person of color playing the lead in a major futuristic Hollywood science fiction film is leaving me with just… Vin Diesel, I’m gonna have to say some work still remains to be done.

  42. Ha! I was wondering if I was going to be the 1st person to mention LeForge. TNG fan wins at internets.But I feel I must raise a question. Do you guys really feel like TNG has aged that well? I mean, the classics are still classics. Yesterday’s Enterprise, The Drumhead, the first couple of Borg episodes, Darmak-at-Yawhosits-or-whatever; Those and a few others are classic science fiction stories, but they’re gems in a field of Crusher-sees-a-ghost, Wharf-breaks-his-back and Troi-Gets-Preggers episodes that I find almost entirely unwatchable. Only years of tutoring at the hands of the denizens of the Satelite Of Love have given me the power and will to mercilessly mock an entire Beverly-Crusher-heavy episode of TNG and even then I can only do it once in a while.

  43. I came to the same conclusion as Domino49 waaaay back in 2005. from my LiveJournal post, entitled "What does Sci-Fi have against Black People":Has there EVER been a civilization of Black folks that were the equals or more advanced than the main characters of the Sci-Fi show? Star Trek: I think Paul Mooney said it best: "Who’s writing these shows for Black people? On Star Trek, one nigger’s blind, the other one looked like his mother fucked a turtle."Stargate: Big Black Guy, a "Ga-ol"(sp?) basically a brute. They might have expanded his character over the course of the show (I saw him smile near the end of an episode I happened to catch), I dunno cuz I don’t watch it. After all, the Black Egyptians couldn’t possibly have invented culture and art and physics all by themselves, it MUST have been some benevolent Aryan, er, um *alien* race that took pity on them and gave em all of that. (From a purely sci-fi perspective, a neat idea, and I was able to check my brain and my militancy enough to enjoy the movie, but not enough to watch the series.)Farscape: The one time Crichton encounters Black people they are a backwards civilization living like Amazonian tribespeople (granted, they gave a good in-episode explanation as to why that culture had not advanced, but sheesh!) and, of course, the cheif’s daughter wants to bone the White boy. Don’t all Black people have Vanilla fantasies?Battlestar Galactica: (New Series) Well, there’s a COMMUNICATIONS officer. . . . Apparently all of the other Black people, with the exception of the religious leader, were killed in the bombing of Caprica. Same with Buck Rogers – I don’t recall ever seeing a dark face on there, with the exception of the singers with three mouths – guess all the Black folks were killed off in the cataclysm while Buck was traveling through time.I think its that sci-fi in general doesn’t have very many Black folks in it at all levels – writers, producers, directors, etc. I think that when none of the people who create something look like Wesley Snipes, chances are they will have issues, or at least some difficulty, seeing a Black face in that role – especially when that role has real power and possibilities for sexual attraction. In the new BSG, there’s NO real reason why Adama couldn’t have been Black, for example, unless the racial politics on Caprica also echo our civilization. In fact, the very concept of the series should lead to more color-blind casting as the Roman Empire, which this civilization is based on (or which perhaps was influenced by *this* civilization?) didn’t do ethnic-based slavery. A good example of what the lack of Black folks behind the scenes does is the movie Pleasantville. This was an entire movie about people who lived in a Black and White world. The movie makes the point that the people there weren’t alive until COLOR was introduced – yet there were NO Black people in the movie and only a few people of color in the beginning high school sequence in "our" world. To me, being Black and all, it seems obvious that the most shocking and obvious thing in this movie would have been the introduction of a Black person, or a whole *bunch* of Black people. Imagine finding out about the concept of color and then finding out that not only things can be different colors but PEOPLE as well! But I digress. . . .One of the things the original show *did* do well, IMHO, was show diversity – not just in the casting (having Asian and Black major characters) but the extras as well. Unlike Friends and other TV shows which seem to exist in some mythically White world (no Black or Hispanics in friggin NEW YORK!?!), there were people of color there – yes they were in the background, but there were THERE. Anyway, I’ve always said we’d be much better off if, instead of begging Whitey for inclusion, we would form companies and produce our own media. If we really want to see Sci-Fi and other media outlets change their views, or lack therof, of Black folk, we need to get up off our collective duff and make them or, if lacking the knowledge and ability to make them, make it a point to support those who are. If films like Sankofa and Rosewood got the support we give films like Scarface and Willie Wonka (I *think* I saw 1 Black person in the film – not counting the Oompa Loompa guy), I don’t think this would be an issue. Thoughts?

  44. Snob:I like numbers 2 and 4 – sadly in America (would be world ruler and model for the sci-fi future) nobody wants to be black. It’s all right; I’ve accepted the unconscious pariah complex as inevitably leading to a self destructive cycle of drugs alcohol, homicide-as-suicide and ultimately: deliberate genetic modification. It’s the future and I won’t be there to be steamrolled by it – that is my only consolation. Thanks for the sci-fi shout out though, I’ve been a comic book consumer /gamer since I entered civilisation and it’s fantastically refreshing to be getting all this (sudden)validation here in the 21st century where nerds are welcome.

  45. @Sadisticon:I’m not so sure I’d agree us Black nerds are getting validation nowadays, with the possible exception of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and rumors of a live-action Green Lantern with John Stewart (and, of course, the forever-in-Development-Hell Black Panther movie with Wesley-aint-there-any-other-Black-actors-out-there?-Snipes)I think its more a function of Hollywood being bereft of ideas seeing movies like the Chris Nolan Batman movie work well and going "I wonder if any other comic books would make good movies". Sadly, none of the Hollywood types seem to be reading any of the Milestone titles. As an example, the cartoon "Static Shock" – based on Milestone’s "Static" – was consistently rated in the top 5 for its entire run, beating out <B>*everything* else on broadcast televisiion in its time slot (cable shows like Fairly Odd Parents did better and Yu-Gi-Oh was a monster – no pun intended) regardless of which time slot it was in and what it was up against. Static is essentially a Black Spiderman with Black Lightning’s powers – young and enjoying being a superhero for the sheer fun ot it (and the fact that he *can).I think Icon would do well also – imagine a Denis Haysbert type playing what is essentially a Black Superman, but including Racial and Social reality, unlike that shall not be named Will Smith travesty (the last part of the name is no accident, being as the movie sucked a big one, but I digress). For those not familiar with Icon, he’s an alien from another planet(!) who crash-lands on Earth. The escape pod changes his DNA to match with a Human who finds his pod – who happens to be a Black Slave in America! He then lives as a slave and then as a Free Man (adopting the surname "Freeman") through slavery, Reconstruction, the Depression, et. al. to modern times. He meets a girl from da hood named Rachel and she convinces him to use his super abilities for the good of all. This (written well) would be a great movie. If I had the wherewithal, I’d be producing it myself.

  46. If Danielle is going to play the generation card (as she does in her article "Blacks in Space" in the June "American Prospect" (where she approvingly quotes Joe Morton saying "If you are a 50 -60-year-old white producer in Hollywood, for the ‘heroic image’ you’re not going to think of a black man or woman"), she should at least get her dates right: The TV series "Star Trek" aired in the 1960’s, not the 1970’s, a mistake she makes at least three times in her first 5 paragraphs. She should also note that in the actual 1970’s, O. J. Simpson played a ‘heroic’ astronaut in the science fiction movie "Capricorn One," though his off-screen behavior later on was something less than heroic. In fact, despite her gloom about non-black heroes in science fiction (please, I’m enough of a geek to loathe that dreadful neologism "sci-fi"), she mentions such heroic black SF heroes at Will Smith and Captain Sisko. (Way back in the 1950’s — the 1950’s, for God’s sake!), E.C. comics had a black science fiction hero in a story called "Judgment Day" and resisted efforts by the censors to change him. But like the directors and screenwriters and producers in Hollywood, E.C. comics were primarily published, edited, and written by Jews. Which is why Morton’s final remarks that "On some level, we’ve kind of done it to ourselves. If we want to change what those images are, we have to do something to make those images come to fruition." If that means having more black producers and writers and directors, you may as well keep dreaming: With all the Jews who have created science fiction films over the years (and for the record I’m Jewish myself), how many Jewish heroes can you remember from those films? But then, Jews are a minority in America, a much smaller minority in America than blacks. Except when they’re making movies in Hollywood. Then they write themselves out of the future. If only we had a Jewish Captain Sisko!

  47. truth of the matter is I don’t think generally speaking black audiences are interested in really good Sci-Fi unless Xibit or Ice-Cube are in the movie. You want to see blacks in space you’re gonna be waiting till Tyler Perry does a Madea on the Moon movie. Interestingly enough Tyler Perry did a cameo in the latest Star Trek movie. Lets be honest it’s kinda hard to do a Love in Basket Ball sequel from space, or How High 2: Mars that’s how. Any around the way cats you know of who saw Sunshine or Polaris and enjoyed those films, or know that the George Clooney Polaris is actually a re-make. In as much as I would like to blame all of this problem on the industry, I really think that in the future of popular Sci-fi we dont see black people because we’re all on earth chillin’ talkin bout "this nigga aint gonna explore no space and the unknown that’s that whack stuff white be people be doin’, I’m tryin to see that new joint Precious 5"

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