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Racial casting of Star Trek and other SF

A friend notes that of the 24 seasons of Star Trek, and something like 12 movies, there's basically no Chinese or Indian main characters. Maybe Khan, if you count a villain. Harry Kim is said to be Chinese, despite the stereotypically Korean last name. That's it.

Of course, Firefly showed no Chinese people, despite the vaunted 'influence', and Babylon-5 is pretty lily-white. Franklin gets a bit more character time than Uhura, I think, but is definitely a second-tier black character. We get the occasional Japanese or black visiting character. But mostly white. Including the aliens not buried in makeup, the Centauri or Minbari -- they're all pale too. Imagine a black Minbari. Imagine all black Minbari. But nope. Star Trek's actually ahead on this front, with a black Vulcan (along with the woman captain and Native American first officer and allegedly Chinese navigator... Voyager's pretty good here, actually. And Kes is played by Jennifer Lien.)

Stargate SG-1 did have a 'black' main character in the main 4, though once again Teal'c got fewer lines than others. Still, he's not just background or token.

Edit: for DS9's Julian Bashir, ' Ronald D. Moore commented "In my mind, Julian was of Sudanese (like Sid), Indian, or Pakistani extraction, but that the family's roots were probably in England, hence the accents."'

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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 16th, 2013 05:26 am (UTC)
Native American first officer

If you mean Robert Beltran/Chakotay, I'm not sure why the actor makes a point of being Mexican and Indian, when essentially all Mexicans that aren't white are part Indian anyway. Chakotay, of course, is said to be Maori.

Also, navigator Harry Kim is both said to be Chinesse and played by ethnically Chinese Garret Wang.

Other Trek Asians include Japanese Sulu/Takei, Japanese Sato/Korean Park,

I believe DS9 was the first crew show to have a black "captain", and at one point had Avery Brooks, Cirroc Lofton, and Michael Dorn in prominent arcs at the same time.

It's funny about B5, Straczynski once blogged about how he was changing casting agencies because they were sending over too many white people for the crowd scenes.
Jun. 16th, 2013 06:04 am (UTC)
eh, my bad. Chakotay's tribe had apparently been changed since the early Voyager promo materials I read, these ages past.

Jun. 16th, 2013 05:26 pm (UTC)
I've always liked Bashir, in this respect; there's a substantial population of ethnically north African/Middle Eastern/subcontinental Indian people in the UK but who have been living in the country for multiple generations. In our real-world England, they face a fair amount of racism right now; I'd like to think Bashir and his family reflect a world where that's something they don't deal with anymore. (And, honestly, I suspect bigotry on Earth of the Trek universe(s) no longer cares as much about ethnicity and race, what with aliens that are fully interfertile out there, and a fair number of them living on Earth.)
Jun. 16th, 2013 05:40 pm (UTC)
Tamlyn Tomita didn't work out, so we got Claudia Christian instead. Acting-wise, we came out ahead, but lost an Asian on the main cast.
Jun. 16th, 2013 06:56 pm (UTC)
Good point! I did forget about her from the pilot.
Jun. 18th, 2013 08:06 pm (UTC)
More Stargaters of Color
Stargate SG-1 gets a bit more cred because their frequently-seen archenemy, Apophis, was Jamaican actor Peter Williams.

Stargate Atlantis actually ditched their black castmate after the first season, "replacing" him with Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa. The exotic looking Rachel Luttrel (Teyla) turns out to have a Tanzanian mother.

SG UNIVERSE gives us our first Asian authority figure, Camile Wray who was the head of the civilian "faction" on Destiny. This time they did *not* eject the edgy black guy, keeping Sgt Greer around for all 40 episodes. However, with about thirty people drawn exclusively from the best scientists willing to work on secret military contracts, the total absence of any Asians or Indians is stupidly, ludicrously wrong.
Jun. 18th, 2013 11:33 pm (UTC)
Re: More Stargaters of Color
Cool, thanks.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


Damien Sullivan

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