Blacks in Space
One of my favorite scenes in the classic Star Trek is when Abraham Lincoln appears and calls Uhura a “charming nigress.” He’s politely informed that such language isn’t used anymore, and everyone is equal in the future, and all that Star Trek utopian nonsense.
But, watching that scene, you get the feeling that what Kirk really wanted to say was: “She is a charming nigress! And the lowest paid communications officer in the fleet. And if it wasn’t for that dizzy piece yeoman Rand, I’d be all over that black ass!”
Then everyone would laugh. Except for Uhura, who would glance from white face to white face like a hunted animal.
I don’t care what you say about equality and how awesome it was to have a black character like that on a show at that time, Uhura was just the token black. Nothing more. Like she really represents black people, with her Swahili and pseudo-Red Shirt tendencies whenever she saw more action than being rocked out of her swivel chair.
Worf was a token black as well. Again, I don’t care how cool he was. It’s telling that the token black characters of The Next Generation all had weird shit going on. Either Klingon makeup, or Levar Burton the blind engineer, or Whoopie Goldberg and her crazy hats. You might as well just put yellow stars on them. Oh, black people. Nothing normal about them!
You finally get a black man of substance in Deep Space Nine. But, then, look at how Starfleet treats him. A man who has obviously superior command ability is shipped off to some shithole station at the very edge of Federation space and sort of told to rot and die, until the wormhole is discovered. Then people take notice of him…and give him an experimental, highly dangerous warship and put him on the front lines when the white folk start a war.
Meanwhile, perhaps by nature of the original fuck-you punishment post, they give him a useless command crew. You have the effete doctor, the know-it-all symbiotic alien who is never Starfleet material in any of her incarnations, the troubled Irishman who hasn’t come within a whisper of promotion for over a decade and his whining Asian wife, the trigger-happy liaison officer suffering from severe PTSD, a possibly homicidal mystery alien in charge of security, and a new token minority – an overtly stereotypical Jew in alien makeup who is a known criminal and seems to get away with it, despite getting lip from the security officer in episode after dull episode.
Voyager returned to the token black man routine, again marked by alien features.
In regards to Enterprise, I just want to say that Linda Park is far sexier than Jolene Blalock, who appears to be made out of plastic. I think Linda Park is the token minority on that show… It’s hard to tell, because it’s sort of like NASCAR Dads and Their Redneck College Buddies in Space. Which would be a great show, actually.