Star Trek: Discovery is one of the most highly-anticipated TV shows of the last decade, following in the footsteps of classic Trek, it's taking the next step all on its own. #StarTrek is one of those special shows that has lasted the test of time, a classic piece of #scifi that boldly went where no man went before, especially when it came to inclusion. In the 1960s, segregation was rife in the United States, in Star Trek: TOS the crew of the Enterprise was a melting pot of genders, races and even species.
When racism did rear its ugly head it was usually aimed at Spock for his appearance, mannerisms and, of course, the cultural differences between Vulcans and humans. He was the alien equivalent of mixed-race, not quite fitting into either side and often ridiculed by both. James T. Kirk, played by an often shirtless William Shatner, was the captain of the Enterprise. He was the epitome of the all-American hero: chiseled good looks, strong in the face of adversity and always giving help to those who needed him.
Even though there was a strong cishet white male to lead the show, Star Trek ensured that every race and gender was a vital part of the crew.
- Vulcan First Officer Spock
- Japanese-American Helmsman Sulu
- Russian Navigator Chekov
- American Doctor McCoy
- African-American Communications Officer Uhura
- Scottish Engineer Scotty
Each of these characters evolved over the subsequent seasons and movies; they had relationships, families and they moved up in rank. They weren't just filling a quota, they were being shown as equals, with people of all races, creeds and species working together and progressing in their own way.
The subsequent Star Trek Series followed in the same vein as its predecessor, with many shattering the glass ceiling not only for genders and races, but for disabilities as well. In The Next Generation, Geordi La Forge was the Helmsmen — later the chief engineer — and he was born blind. With Data being an android, it could be argued that he represented someone on the autistic spectrum, but that didn't make him any less important than any other member of the crew.
Kathryn Janeway, portrayed by the astounding Kate Mulgrew, was the highly respected captain of Voyager, and although she wasn't the first or last captain that we had seen, she was consistent, like Picard before her. Avery Brooks — an African-American actor, dancer and one hell of a singer — played the commander of Deep Space 9, Benjamin Sisko. The starbase was a hotbed of races and alien species, allowing for greater conflict, relationships and stories.
Everywhere you look in Star Trek there are subtle affirmations of equality and inclusion, except for when it comes to accents. Accents seem to be reserved for aliens, villains and imbeciles. (Looking at you, Harry Mudd.) Human characters in Starfleet have a tendency to be anglicized when it comes to tongue-wagging, but Discovery might just change that. #MichelleYeoh, star of Tommorrow Never Dies and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, plays Captain Philippa Georgiou of the USS Shenzhou.
There have been female commanders and POC captains before, so you may be wondering why this is so special or why Georgiou is going to be a character with a far greater reach than you expect.
Yeoh, who is Chinese Malaysian, speaks with her own prominent accent. She isn't anglicized, she isn't the villain, the freak or the fool — she is the head honcho and she will be a beacon for many people out there. Just like Whoopi Goldberg (Guinan from The Next Generation) was inspired by Nichelle Nichols (Uhura from TOS), so too will a generation of children be inspired by an Asian woman leading the way with her natural accent.
What seems like a small step is a leap forward, with Star Trek really embracing the global population that Starfleet claims to represent. The mere fact that a character that this exists in the Star Trek Universe — in Memory Alpha no less — will be more than enough for those Georgiou represents.
Do you think that the inclusion of Captain Philippa Georgiou's accent is a step in the right direction for Star Trek?