I’m plowing through Hollywood In Blackface and should have my review done by the end of the week.
In the meantime, I would like to briefly draw attention to four important black fictional heroes who are not mentioned in the book: Captain Benjamin Sisko, Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge, Commander Tuvok, and Emory Erickson from Star Trek.
The theme of Hollywood In Blackface is that black people are routinely cast in roles in television shows and movies that have no correspondence to reality. Think of Omar Epps as a neurologist on House M.D. or Will Smith who is the best fighter pilot in the world in Independence Day.
Star Trek has been puffing up black people since Captain Kirk kissed Lieutenant Uhura and broke the color line on television in 1968. Here are the four most important African-Americans in the fictional Star Trek universe:
(1) Captain Benjamin Sisko – In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which aired from 1993 to 1999, Captain Benjamin Sisko is the central character and commander of the Deep Space Nine space station, which borders a wormhole that leads to another section of the Milky Way Galaxy.
An empire of hostile aliens called “The Dominion” lives on the other side of the wormhole. As “The Emissary of the Prophets,” Captain Sisko is a divine figure to the White Bajoran people, routinely interacts with the Bajoran gods, and saves humanity and the entire galaxy from the evil shapeshifters and their drug addicted reptilian soldiers when they launch an invasion of the Alpha Quadrant.
(2) Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge – In Star Trek: The Next Generation, which aired from 1987 to 1994 and was the basis of four Star Trek movies, Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge is the Chief Engineer of the Starship Enterprise.
In Star Trek: First Contact, La Forge and the Enterprise-E travel back in time to the 21st century to stop the Borg from preventing mankind’s first warp space flight.
The inventor of the warp drive is a financially motivated, White alcoholic named Zefram Cochrane who lives in Bozeman, Montana. La Forge has to hold his hand to get him to launch the Phoenix and make “first contact” with the Vulcans.
(3) Lieutenant Tuvok – In Star Trek: Voyager, which aired from 1995 to 2001, Lieutenant Tuvok is the Chief of Security and Chief Tactical Officer on the Starship Voyager.
Tuvok is a black Vulcan. His character was often at odds with his “illogical” crewmates, especially Tom Paris, who was the White helmsman.
Paris was a fuck up and the privileged son of Admiral Paris who ended up on Voyager to get out of prison. He served under Captain Janeway (White female), Commander Chakotay (American Indian), Commander Tuvok (Black male), Ensign Kim (Asian male), and Lieutenant Torres (Hispanic female).
In physical appearance, Tuvok (who was played by Tim Russ) resembles Barack Obama. The media has repeatedly compared Obama to Vulcans and imputed Vulcan-like qualities of high intelligence and logical thinking to him.
(4) Emory Erickson – In Star Trek: Enterprise, which aired from 2001 to 2005, Emory Erickson is revealed as the inventor of the transporter in the Star Trek universe.
In the Enterprise episode “Daedalus,” Erickson is seen working on a “sub-quantum transporter” to rematerialize his son Quinn who was lost in a transporter accident.
Erickson’s biography inspired Trip Tucker, the chief engineer of the Enterprise NX-01, to become an engineer.
Without the invaluable leadership qualities and the scientific and technological contributions of African-Americans, humanity would have never traveled through interstellar space or survived armed conflict with hostile species from other parts of the galaxy.