USA! USA! USA!
Aw hell, here we go…Star Trek has always been political, so no need to shy away from discussing politics here. Did you watch President Joe Biden’s April 28, 2021 address to Congress? I hope you did because this speech felt like we might be on the precipice of a cultural shift. There was direct discussion of the need for reform and progress on human rights, racial justice, gender equity, LGBTQ protections, universal safety net programs for families, violence against women, migration, and gun safety. This past year woke all of us up that living lives of quiet desperation is an inadequate existence and that we have to help one another. More importantly, the past year has shown that government, by and for the people, has a role to play in remediating so many of these issues. It was a truly remarkable speech. I am cautiously optimistic that we may make significant progress on these issues in the next few years.
In the Star Trek context, perhaps the best episode that we can look to is DS9’s Past Tense. In the episode, Sisko, Bashir, and Jadzia beam down to San Francisco to attend a Starfleet conference, but a transporter malfunction has them ending up on Earth in 2024, 300 years in the past. See where I’m going? Things are bad. Earth is shown to have all the crimes of desperation, frequent petty crime, riots, and massive camps for people experiencing homelessness called Sanctuary Districts. Sisko and Bashir were shuttled into one Sanctuary District where they saw poverty unlike anything they had ever seen or heard of outside of the history books. Just for being homeless, poor, mentally ill and/or undocumented, they were treated like criminals. Sounds familiar, right?
“By the early 2020s, there was a place like this in every major city in the United States.“Sisko and Bashir
“Why are these people in here? Are they criminals?“
“No, people with criminal records weren’t allowed in the Sanctuary Districts.“
“Then what did they do to deserve this?“
“Nothing. They’re just people without jobs or places to live.“
“So they get put in here?“
“Welcome to the 21st Century, Doctor.”
Sure enough, there has been an overcrowded skid row/tent city/homeless encampment in every major city in the United States. After years of decline, homelessness was on the rise before the pandemic, but was surely exacerbated by the rampant job loss related to the economic disruption. Sanctuary Districts were developed at some point to warehouse people and keep them out of sight. Notably, even the well-meaning social worker attempting to help Sisko and Bashir uses derogatory terms to refer to them. In retrospect, it is a particularly poignant moment because she is a Black woman acting as a benevolent gatekeeper, emblematic of the systemic -isms that can be so insidious, hard to identify, and hard to change. She even tells them to watch out for District Security, so it appears police brutality was a thing there too. She has the smug confidence that comes with thinking she’s helping, but not the recognition that she is actually part of the problem.
“There’s no need for him to live like that…
“It’s not that they don’t give a damn, they’ve just given up. The social problems they face seem too enormous to deal with.”Sisko to Bashir
“Causing people to suffer because you hate them is terrible, but causing people to suffer because you have forgotten how to care–that’s really hard to understand.“
“They’ll remember. It will take some time and it won’t be easy, but, eventually, people in this century will remember how to care.”Sisko and Bashir
There is an old saying that things are darkest before the Dawn. The 2020s have been pretty dark so far, in real life and the Star Trek Universe. How Star Trek writers could have predicted things are happening now with such precision is pretty eerie; this episode aired 26 years ago. It’s so on the nose. I haven’t even mentioned the unique and subtle demonstration of racism in the episode. Jadzia, a white-passing actual alien, is given aid and treated like the toast of society while Sisko and Bashir, two black and brown American citizens, are treated immediately like criminals. That could be a whole post in itself.
I don’t have to recount all of the terrible things that have happened in the past few years. Our democracy has been tested, voting rights being challenged, unimaginable economic insecurity, immigrant children in cages, and widespread disease and rationing of access to healthcare. And most relevant to this episode, mass riots because people have been isolated to the point that they feel they have no other choice than to overturn the system violently. Again, sounds familiar?
So, are you feeling optimistic after the speech? If you find comfort in the post-scarcity ideas idealized in Star Trek, let’s work towards it. Seems like we’ve got momentum.
P.S. This might be my new favorite DS9 episode. I didn’t appreciate it until now.
Boy, the hits just keep coming, don’t they? We’ve lots a lot of good ones over the last year, but this loss feels more personal. I haven’t posted in a while, but this passing deserved a post. James Avery was one of the GOATs in the acting game, of all races. Most of us knew and loved him as Uncle Phil on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but us Trekkies knew he was also Captain K’Vagh on Star Trek Enterprise. Even fewer people know that he auditioned against Michael Dorn for the role of Worf in TNG (Stop for a sec: Can you imagine?)
We’ve lost one of the greats, everyone. Nearly everyone’s favorite TV dad and an actor that gave 100% to every role he took. He passed on today after suffering complications from heart surgery earlier this month; he was 68.
Beware, a Klingon Warrior is about to arrive!
Hold up, so Voyager 1 has left the damn solar system and it’s not on the front page anywhere? Y’all do realize what an achievement this is, right? Voyager has now traveled farther than any man-made object to date.
Just so we are clear, this is a photo of Earth from Voyager 1 in 1990. See that little blue dot in the brown band? Yep, that’s us and everyone who has ever lived on Earth. It’s been 23 years since that was taken.
There’s been controversy about whether Voyager 1 actually left for a year or so now, but it appears researchers are certain that Voyager 1 is now traipsing through the Milky Way. It has actually gone where no man has gone before!
Remember V’ger, anyone else a little nervous? Could you imagine Voyager 1 being intercepted and upfitted by a race of aliens and returning to us? I’ll be long dead by the time that happens, but it is kinda cool to consider. On the other end of the spectrum, a probe entering a black hole and becoming self-aware was a very similar story to the movie Event Horizon– the scariest movie ever made. Let’s hope that sh*t doesn’t happen.
The V’ger entity and resultant merger with Ilia and Lt. Decker is supposed to be the beginning of the Borg, so, yeah, let’s hope all of that doesn’t happen. In fact, let’s hope that the galaxy is filled with gentle, kind My Little Ponies or something.
In fact, maybe there is good reason for this not to be front page news after all…
Happy Friday everyone!
The first time I went to Las Vegas, there was one place I knew I had to go. That place where everyone’s at least a passing Trekkie. Well, alas, it is no more. The Las Vegas Hilton got rid of it years ago, but I still miss it. I guess that it wasn’t bringing in the big bucks like its Elvis impersonator. Yes, these grapes are sour.
If you’ve never been, I’ll paint the scene from memory: You walk in and get in line and see a few prop exhibits and a Trek timeline. But, the real fun starts when you get into the interactive Borg invasion. The Borg Queen tops my list of villians because of her detached ruthlessness. She was a bad mamajamma! The simulation was dated, but I didn’t care because it was the closest I’d ever get to being on a starship. Then, after you won, you could go into the Enterprise simulation and sit on,the Bridge and play an officer. Again, it felt more like a science museum exhibit, but it was great for any trekkie. Afterward, you could hang out in Ten Forward, drink some Romulan ale and chop it up with the Klingons wandering around. The highlight for me was being choked by a Klingon female. Then, of course, there was a neat gift shop with pretty good memorabilia.
Vegas felt a little emptier without any sort of Star Trek attraction there. So, here’s to sadness.
FYI: I hear there is a nice convention coming in August. Check it out if you get a chance.
This might truly be the first truly esoteric black trekkie post ever. I think you had to be Black and born some time between 1975 and 1980 to appreciate the phrase “kirk out”. So, let’s get into it.
Does anyone know how this became a black cultural idiom? I have no idea. The funny thing is when you say it, almost every black person knows exactly what it implies–you went temporarily (read: batsh*t) insane. In most situations, you’ve tried your best to keep your cool, but someone or a situation kept trying your patience and…finally, IT, whatever IT might be, was on! You were done negotiating, trying to be heard, waiting patiently, listening to reason, trying to be empathetic, whatever. You, Bruce Banner, turned into this raging Hulk of a person that not even your momma could calm down:
John: Yo, I was driving today and this mickey flickey cut me off. I couldn’t believe it when he flipped me the bird after I honked at him. Yo, seriously, I almost got out of the car and KIRKED the ****(optional) OUT on that cat! He better be glad I had a meeting because, otherwise, y’all would have been seeing me on the news at 6, yo.
Homie: I’m glad you didn’t, man. Not over something so silly.
Now, we all remember that Captain Kirk said “Kirk, out” whenever he signed off communications. We also know that Captain Kirk was forever going off-script and just flying into rages, but how did this enter the black vernacular? Not sure, but I’m glad it did. It is such a effective, concise way of conveying about 50 curse words at once.
Anyone else have ideas?
Edit: We are still looking for answers in 2021.
We just turned 1 year old! Woot! Hosting the blog has been a fun, creative outlet so far. It turns out that “Black Trekkies” is the top search term that is leading people to find the Black Trekkie blog. I knew we were out there! And, it appears that we are searching for one another. It’s been a fun year and we have bigger and better things planned for the future.
SO…if you happen onto this blog and find it funny and/or interesting, become a guest poster. If you just want to hang, leave a comment and subscribe.
I’d love to have more activity on the blog and offering alternative insights into the Trek would be great. And, please post comments and follow Black Trekkie. Every click gets us a little closer to the Delta Quadrant. Just kidding, it just lessens the distance between us.
We can even have an awesome Gorn/Kirk-style play fight. We’ll figure out what the fight was about later. Keep checking in, I’m looking to hear from you!
How did I never think of this? So, the latest rumor about Benedict Cumberbatch’s John Harrison is that he is actually Khaaaaaan! But, reading some of the reviews coming out, I am starting to think that he might actually be a Klingon augment!
If you’ll remember the DS9 send-up to the Original Series, Trials and Tribble-ations, Worf was asked why Klingons in the Original Series didn’t have cranial ridges. He said they did not speak of it with outsiders. So, maybe, John Harrison is the beginning of the enmity between Klingons and the Federation?
I’m not big time enough to get special screening tickets, but we will know if a few days! Can’t wait!
EDIT: Well, that was fast. I just checked the IMDB page for the film. John Harrison is playing my favorite villain!
I imagine DS9 happened something like this:
There’s a meeting between the DS9 writers and the lightbulb goes off and someone says “I’ve got it! Let’s make him an intergalactic Martin Luther King, Jr.” Then, they call in Avery Brooks and he is full of ideas about how to bring nuance and depth to the character. The head writer interrupts him, Kanye-style, and hands him a VHS tape of the “I Have a Dream” speech, gives him the attaboy, and tells him to come back in a month.
I feel like I should talk about MLK, Jr. in June or really any other time than his designated day. Why? Because his contributions to our society and the world deserve more attention and investigation.
Most people know MLK, Jr. for his ubiquitous I Have a Dream speech in Washington. But, most people don’t know much about his inner life, his turmoil, and the very personal sacrifices he made during his journey. His writings and sermons from shortly before his death are definitely worth read.
This year, the celebration of his life and contributions will understandably be overshadowed by the second inauguration of the first black (and possibly Vulcan) president of the United States.
What does this have to do with Star Trek?
First and foremost, Happy New Year! I hope that you are getting on well so far in 2013. If you didn’t make any resolutions yet, then go make some! It’s always New Years somewhere on one of the 1 billion planets in the Milky Way galaxy. I’d love for readers to share theirs, I’ll start:
1) Use up things that I have bought, donate them, or throw them out. I’m not up to Hoarders level, but my house is a graveyard for good deals and miracle products that haven’t lived up to the hype or failed to hold my interest. I could have the most epic garage sale EVER! I started purging things a bit before the new year and hope to continue over the next few weeks. I am terribly sentimental and I even threw away a birthday present that I never used; yes, I’m serious.
2) This one is more of a Part 2 to the aforementioned. Buying exercise dvds makes me feel like I have worked out. *hangs head in shame* Don’t tell Shaun T. I have them all: Power 90, Supreme 90, Walk Away the Pounds, The Firm, Pilates, Yoga, and a bunch of others. I figure if I do them all over the course of the next year, I will surely be fitter by the end. Sounds like a good idea, right?
Okay, enough about me.
Let’s all celebrate the 20th anniversary of the premiere of Deep Space 9. The first episode, Emissary, aired on January 3, 1993. I love nearly all things Star Trek, but I will admit that DS9 is my least favorite series. I just couldn’t get into Avery Brooks’ acting style. Every phrase is not an invitation to soliloquy, but he made it one anyway. Extreme overacting and, yes, I know he teaches acting; but it’s Trek not Shakespeare. There were a few bright spots (Episode: In The Pale Moonlight), but it was just generally too much. When I get down to doing the episode reviews, I will talk more about that. I am currently rewatching the series and I will admit to enjoying it much more than I did initially. Especially, Garak. I had totally forgotten that everyone’s favorite spy-turned-tailor had such a pivotal role in the series. Andrew Robinson was awesome in this role, especially when the show went off the rails and forgot about the Dominion War for about 10 episodes. Seriously tho, what the heck was going on in Season 7?
So, tell me, who was your favorite character in DS9?
Shouts to Garak, he’ll cut a b*tch. He’s Star Trek’s version of Omar from the Wire.