Monday, November 17, 2014

SCI-FI Month Discussion: Finding My Place In A Not So Diverse Galaxy







Recently I was talking with one of my friends about Science Fiction fandom, more importantly Star Wars, since we are both huge fans. I was marveling over the fact that both of us are such huge fans of a genre that rarely reflects who we are : African American females.


So maybe being a Sci-Fi fan is hardwired into our DNA. It's been a wonderful journey as a Science Fiction fan, and  though there is still a great need for more diverse characters, here are the universes that helped shape the fan I am today.


My love of Science Fiction began with, and continues to be fed by Star Wars. There is something inherently welcoming about George’s galaxy, despite the lack of a racially diverse  person in the main cast or in the supporting cast or extras. Well there was that one black man in the award ceremony at the end of Star Wars. Trust me he’s there. When your a racially diverse kid who loves Science Fiction, those little glimpses of diversity mean the world to you.


Like every child in the 70’s I wielded light sabers, collected Kenner toys and trading cards and watched the movies numerous times. I think a big part of what drew me to the saga was Mark Hamil’s portrayal of Luke, and Carrie Fisher :


My Favorite Princess! Carries portrayal of Leia was a princess I could truly understand. She was a strong take charge kind of woman who wasn't afraid to speak her mind, and had no problem going toe to toe with the boys in a blaster fight.


The Empire Strikes back made a significant share ft in diversity with the addition of Billy Dee Williams:

Lando Calrissian  


   The gift of Lando was he was just Lando. It was wonderful watching all my friends swoon over him. I was, and still am a Han Solo gal, but no girl is immune to a good looking guy with swagger and a cape!!

 I was also so pleased to see diverse characters continue to be a part of the prequels and The Clone Wars series. 

From Star Wars I discovered Star Trek and a character that has inspired and entertained generations of Trek fans: LT. Uhura.


I loved Uhura’s grace and the fact that she was always herself.She wasn't a caricature of a character or a token character. Though initially her role seemed limited she grew into one of the most beloved icons of Science Fiction. I love the story Nichelle tells about how she was  initially  bored with her limited role and thought about leaving the show until Martin Luther King convinced her not to. 

She opened the door for many who came after her and drew a large part of the African American community to the show just because of her presence. Though I may relate more to Leia vs. Uhura,  her presence meant the world to me as a child. A validation that there was a place for me in the Science Fiction world that was becoming so dear to me.


Here are some other favorite characters from Movies and TV shows that I loved containing great racially diverse and female characters.


Boomer from Classic Battlestar Galactica



Ripley from Alien and Erin Gray from Buck Rogers



My first Science Fiction novel also had a wonderful cast of female characters:



One of my favorite characters from Dune was Chani. From her description it was easy to visualize her as a brown skinned nomad. I loved her strength and her devotion to Paul:



I’m also excited to read the adventures of Zare Leonis a racially diverse character from Star Wars: Rebels who is staring in his own novel series:



There is still a tremendous need for more racial diversity in the science Fiction world in print, movies and television. In today's social media drenched society consumers are connecting more and more with companies and demanding more representation in their favorite fandom's. 

Its encouraging to see positive changes, and its extremely  important to support these creations financially. If  is a diverse book you enjoy continue to support it! Tweet about it, review it, or buy a copy for your library.

If you want more racially diverse characters on your favorite shows leave a comment on a networks Facebook or Twitter page. 


Happy Reading!!

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