You'd think that for a franchise so historically committed to diversity as Star Trek, its fans would rejoice at the fact that the newest show boasts a woman of color as the lead, and another woman of color as her commanding officer. And in fact, many have praised this step forward in media representation — but their voices have been drowned out by a deluge of racially charged criticisms.
Peruse the comments on any article about Star Trek: Discovery (I dare you to scroll down), and you'll find those "fans" who complain about the show straying too far from the show's origins, criticizing the casting of Sonequa Martin-Green, and labeling Discovery "the feminist Star Trek" — apparently blind to the irony that Trek has always been intersectionally feminist.
Now, Sonequa Martin-Green has engaged these haters (I hesitate to give them the legitimate title of critics), firing back with some carefully targeted words that are sure to do as much damage as a photon torpedo. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Martin-Green commented that progressive social politics have always been an important part of #StarTrek, and that these racist "fans" just don't get it.
"I would encourage them to key into the essence and spirit of 'Star Trek' that has made it the legacy it is — and that’s looking across the way to the person sitting in front of you and realizing you are the same, that they are not separate from you, and we are all one."
As Martin-Green points out, this is a principle that Star Trek doesn't just espouse, but was founded upon — Gene Roddenberry himself said that in creating Star Trek, he was trying to send a message about how humanity needs to set aside our differences if we ever hope to venture out into the stars and greet what we find there. To coin a phrase from Vulcan philosophy, humans need to celebrate infinite diversity in infinite combinations.
"That’s something Star Trek has always upheld and I completely believe that is why it’s been a mainstay in society in the hearts of so many people for so many decades. I would encourage [racist critics] to look past their opinions and social conditioning and key into what we’re doing here — which is telling a story about humanity that will hopefully bring us all together. And it’s hard to understand and appreciate Star Trek if you don’t understand and appreciate that. It’s one of the foundational principles of Star Trek and I feel if you miss that then you miss the legacy itself."
Martin-Green continued to say that she feels immense pride to be the lead of the new Star Trek show, especially as Discovery is the first series to be told from the point of view of a black woman. Although Trek has championed many perspectives other the years, all but one of its protagonists have been white, and it's nice to see Discovery display that same dedication to progressive storytelling by casting an African-American woman as the lead.
Invoking that sacred phrase which prefaces each Star Trek episode*, Martin-Green perfectly summed up the matter at hand: Trek must continue to fly through TV's final frontiers, no matter how many prejudiced people it angers on the internet.
Tell us in the comments: What are you most excited to see in Discovery?
(Source: Entertainment Weekly)
*Yes, except Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise. See what I mean about angry comments?