The portrayal of Blacks and minorities in Science Fiction or “Are Klingons Black?”


Klingon Worf

Commander Worf – played by actor Michael Dorn          -Star Trek TNG

If you’ve ever watched an episode of Star Trek featuring the Klingons I’m sure at some point you’ve asked your self the question-

“are these guys supposed to be Black space people? ” -or something to that measure ran across your mind 

 

KlingonSTErrandofMercy

The great Captain James T Kirk and his Klingon rival Dahar Master Kor during a pensive moment

 

  By doing a Google search on “Black Klingons” its obvious a lot of other people see a similarity  between Klingons and Black people also…I mean your gonna tell me viewers (especially 1960’s viewers) looked at this guy below and didn’t think

“that space alien looks like a Black guy”

(or some other more “colorful” but not so nice thoughts )

images-3

Klingon from the original 1960’s Star Trek series

Im just saying -yo

It came to my attention other ethnic groups possibly connected Klingons & Black people on some level while attending community college. I was speaking with a young Asian lady about peoples attitudes & demeanors on campus one day and I was like “some people are Betazoids and some people are Klingons” and she blurted out a huge guffaw then suddenly covered her mouth looking at me furtively as if she laughed way to hard at that “Klingon” remark. I knew exactly what she had thought about when I said “Klingons” because the same thought had crossed my mind before. I’ve been at a club or on the block when a fight or argument has broken out & was like “these n@#%s is so Klingon” (immmm just saying brothers in the hood be beefing like somebody broke a blood oath.)
Even though my ” Betazoid/Klingon” comment was simply alluding to people in general with passive more peaceful demeanors & others with more boisterous aggressive demeanors I knew her raucous laughter was because when I mentioned Klingon she more than likely thought about some of the more “ghetto” Black students on campus.

So the question arises- “Are the Klingons intended to symbolize Black people“?

2Wide

Klingon designs JJ Abrams rejected

alternate-klingon-designs-for-star-trek-into-darkness-3

Klingon Designs JJ Abrams rejected

Now if your telling me you look at these pic’s and  “don’t” think of Mr. T  your bullshyting yourself …im just saying

 Now the politically correct response to that question is “no the Klingons represent the Soviet era Russians” or something to that affect.  Now this is technically true. At the time the series was created the cold war was at its height but I feel some people deny the similarities just to avoid seeming racist.  As if just because you recognize the similarity of the stereotype being depicted makes you racist (but hey I totally understand we live in a simultaneously racially apathetic and racially sensitive world today) Others don’t want to offend so they deny the similarity and its possible some truly don’t see it. I feel another reason is because the Klingons are just awesome and to label them Black is just unthinkable for those contaminated with racist notions (coff coff #boycottstarwarsVII mentality). Yes Klingons are awesome and I for one am not offended by the idea that yeah these could be some bad ass Black dudes from outer space.

I mean lets look at all the characteristics Klingons have in common with Black stereotypes :

  • They have big muscular athletic builds (Worf would be a killer full back)

  • They are tough, war like and will go to blows about being disrespected (ie” those Thugs)

  • They are for the most part dark skinned (ok thats not a stereotype but you know where I’m going with this)

  • They have a tribal like culture that is bound by a strict sense of honor (street code or that “Thug Life”)

  • Their sexual prowess has been alluded to on several episodes (Worf and counselor Troy, Worf and Jadzia Dax, Worf and Commander Ri..no no I kid)

I mean come on

I don’t think the writers and designers of the original Star Trek series intentionally intended for Klingons to be a subliminal representation of Black people  but even the original series basically had actors playing Klingons in black face.

 

When I watched the original Star Trek reruns as a kid the Klingons made me think of what the Moors may have looked like. In school the teachers were always vague about what the ancient Moors looked like and Klingons being dark skinned humanoids with straight hair seemed like a likely fit in my 8th grade mind. I’m pretty sure when they made the 1979 movie and later the Next generation reboot for TV they wanted to avoid simply putting actors in black face so I’m assuming the idea of adding brow ridges and other prosthetics was a way of being sure not to offend anyone.  I mean there was no other real reason to so dramatically alter the Klingon features. Most of the other aliens from the original series like the Vulcans and Romulans kept their original features. Changing the Klingon look also necessitated the need to create that terrible mutated virus, augmentation ,”we don’t talk about it with outsiders ” story as an excuse for the brow ridges.

Worf-star-trek-the-next-generation-37411804-800-1005

“Bitch were my gold pressed latinum?”

 

Worf looking like an outer space alien street pimp. (I mean the similarities don’t end)

 

Once the character of Warf became popular  we soon saw more African American actors playing Klingons which fueled the whole “are Klingons Black” debate. I figure the show’s casters felt it simply easier (and a little less racist) to hire  Black actors to play Klingons instead of giving White actors the Sci Fi Al Jolson treatment.  White actors have always played Klingons and now with African American actors playing Klingon roles this gives the Klingon race a nice authentic range of what we anthropology nerds like to call phenotypes

We see the variance in skin tone with Worf and General Martok and Dr. Antaak

Also one realizes that when the original series was made special effects make up weren’t the greatest so when the post Star Wars/Lucas Film Industrial Lights and magic era Star Treks were made the creators probably felt it necessary to compete visually with the aliens from other franchises (like Star Wars)

Speaking of Star Wars we see a similar trend with the subliminal depictions of Blacks and minorities in this iconic space opera. When I first saw the Gungduns I thought they most definitely are modeled after a tribal people. They had a seemingly simpler less technologically advanced society and also felt the human Naboo peoples looked down on them and acted intellectually superior.  I’ve seen  people on social media say the Gunguns have a Caribbean sounding accent. I can’t say I felt the same but they did remind me of Polynesian cultures.  Island peoples around the world share similarities like tribal based societies so I definitely see how the Gunguns could be viewed as a characterization of several different tribal cultures.

BossNass_laugh

Boss Nass reminded me of a big Samoan dude that laughed a lot but would whoop some ass if you got out of line

Now for myself the Neimoidians  I felt were obviously based on Chinese/Asian people. Even the Neimoidian costumes were reminiscent of medieval Chinese clothing.  The Neimoidians even spoke like  immigrant Asian shop keepers.

I read a blog by an Asian guy who went to lengths to argue that neither the Neimoidians or Gunguns resembled real life ethnic groups. I’m like “why deny that when its so uberly obvious?”    In this age of racial tension, conservatism and so called political correctness you even have some minorities trying their best not to allude to race or if they do they don’t want to seem whiney about it. I’m like hey if I can’t call a duck a duck in todays world that ridiculous and all the more reason to push for more positive cultural exchange and sensitivity education. Yeah I said it! We all should be sensitive to each others culture & issues instead of being tools about it (and that goes for “every body” coff coff Black people)  We see the recent rise of insanity of culturally ingrained racism with this #BoycottStarWarsVII movement. Hell  if these guys had a problem with Black actors playing lead roles in science fiction they could have boycotted Star Trek Deep Space 9 long ago.(maybe a few nutters did but gladly it went unnoticed)

Benjamin-Sisko-Deep-Space-Nine

Captain Benjamin J Siskco brilliant portrayed by actor Avery Brooks

Obama becomes president and “pow” now it seems Black people having lead roles in fiction is a problem-sheesh (I’m not saying Obama’s presidency is a causation but it sure is a correlation with a lot of this anit-Blackism)

StarWarsFinSaberTrooper

Uberly awesome poster of Finn-Im like 1st a Storm Trooper now he’s a Jedi too? -FUCK YEAH!! that rocks lol

I mean the similarities in Sci Fi aren’t just with visible minorities. When I saw the guy from the Banking Clan I thought “ snooty European aristocrat”.

BankingClanStarWars

The Munn  of the Intergalactic Banking Clan reminds one of a conniving old world European banker

I’m also sure when people 1st saw the Ferengi they thought “greedy Jews in space” (keep it real)

 

Farengi

The greedy and unscrupulous Ferengi fit the typical “Shylock” Jewish stereotype

And the greedy Toydarian slave owner/merchant in Star Wars Phantom menace could be Arab or Jew (or both) He had an middle eastern accent with the hook nose to boot. Every time I see that character I think of several Arab liquor store owners I know (again keeping it real)

watto2StarWars

“Mind tricks don’t work on me, only money”  – Watto the Toydarian merchant who owned Anakin Skywalker and his mother

Science Fiction writers pull their material from the world around them and the good ones brilliantly convey futuristic concepts through archetypes that already exist.  They use familiar history to convey a message with in the fictional world they’ve created. The Jedi are like medieval knights and Shaolin priest combined. The Star Trek Federation is like the United Nations and the USS Enterprise’s Trek is like the age of European discovery (minus the colonialism, enslavement and conquering of other peoples stuff). The  symbolism of Star Wars’ evil Empire is very Nazi like down to Darth Vader’s German army Stahhelm style helmet and the usage of storm troopers. We have to keep it real and recognize and  admit racism and cultural bias exist and we all have these stereotypes  ingrained into our world view. Its not surprising you see these stereotypes being played out in fiction of all genres.     (I mean don’t get me started on Planet of the Apes or Lord of the Rings)  

I’m working on my own science fiction piece and just as the authors I admire have done I’m using the world I know as the lens I’m designing my characters through. I don’t mind my culture being represented in any form of media as long as its tasteful and respectful. Saying that we all should be able to take a little humor associated with our respective cultures also. I’ve always like the idea of Klingons representing Blacks or say an African peoples in the Star Trek universe. The fact they had warp drive capability meant despite their roguish ways and war like culture they also were intelligent and you what? I kinda dig that… Hell Im brushing up on my Klingonese

Black Klingon Jesus

Ben Carson and his personal Black “Klingon” Jesus

 Ben Carson and Black Klingon Jesus

kirk-klingons-laughin2

Captain Kirk and Dahar Kor laughing at Ben Carson and       Black Klingon Jesus while Spock stares amazed at Carson’s “Illogic”

Captain Kirk and Dahar Kor laughing at Ben Carson and Black Klingon Jesus while Spock stares amazed at Carson’s ” Illogic” 

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7 thoughts on “The portrayal of Blacks and minorities in Science Fiction or “Are Klingons Black?”

  1. “I’m like “why deny that when its so uberly obvious?” In this age of racial tension, conservatism and so called political correctness you even have some minorities trying their best not to allude to race or if they do they don’t want to seem to be whiney about it. I’m like hey if I can’t call a duck a duck in todays world that ridiculous and all the more reason to push for more positive cultural exchange and education.”

    That last sentence…

    Political Correctness (whatevertf those two words together can mean) actually blocks progress: we can’t deal with it if we can’t talk about it.

    “Science Fiction writers pull their material from the world around them and the good ones brilliantly convey futuristic concepts through archetypes that already exist.”

    I would love to one day see writer shut PCs/SJWs down by saying “Oh yeah, that was totally based on Chinese people. Wasn’t that obvious?”

    Dope article, great read. May the force be with you, live long and prosper, peace in the Middle East, one love, one life, mesa gonna go now…

  2. The Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz) is a superhero who shapeshifts. In Young Justice the cartoon show, the writers created a Ms Martian who was the ward. She fell in love with Superboy, who knew her secret. She was a White Martian, large and ungainly and despised by the Green Martians. She revealed her true self just before the end of the show. It will be interesting to see if the DC writers heading Supergirl will explore the dichotomy of White and Green Martians.

    • im a fan of Young Justice i hate they canceled it but I like the fact DC & Marvel touch on issues like racism & prejudice. In Marvel Comics you have the blue & white people of the planet Kree where the blue Kree are the ruling class.

  3. Pingback: The portrayal of Blacks and minorities in Science Fiction or “Are Klingons Black?” | justdeeblog

  4. “Science Fiction writers pull their material from the world around them and the good ones brilliantly convey futuristic concepts through archetypes that already exist.  They use familiar history to convey a message with in the fictional world they’ve created. The Jedi are like medieval knights and Shaolin priest combined. The Star Trek Federation is like the United Nations and the USS Enterprise’s Trek is like the age of European discovery (minus the colonialism, enslavement and conquering of other peoples stuff). The  symbolism of Star Wars’ evil Empire is very Nazi like down to Darth Vader’s German army Stahhelm style helmet and the usage of storm troopers. We have to keep it real and recognize and  admit racism and cultural bias exist and we all have these stereotypes  ingrained into our world view. Its not surprising you see these stereotypes being played out in fiction of all genres.     (I mean don’t get me started on Planet of the Apes or Lord of the Rings)  
    I’m working on my own science fiction piece and just as the authors I admire have done I’m using the world I know as the lens I’m designing my characters through. I don’t mind my culture being represented in any form of media as long as its tasteful and respectful. Saying that we all should be able to take a little humor associated with our respective cultures also. I’ve always like the idea of Klingons representing Blacks or say an African peoples in the Star Trek universe. The fact they had warp drive capability meant despite their roguish ways and war like culture they also were intelligent and you what? I kinda dig that… Hell Im brushing up on my Klingonese.”
    Good post brother. That was a very nice breakdown.

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