Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Star-Trek Legacy



 

Who can be against it?

Last week I touched on something that I’ve been giving a lot of thought and to some of you may seem obvious, while younger generations might be clueless about this observation. The question was: What does the evening news, President Obama, and Star Trek have in common? The answer is racial integration. But, it goes much deeper than that.

 

In 1969 a writer by the name of Gene Roddenberry created a TV series, which today we know as Star Trek. A popular TV series that spawned many current movies, which have introduced younger generations to this old television series. The newest installment of Star Trek movies is out and breaking box office records, exceeding studio executive’s expectations. What is the reason for Star Trek’s mass appeal? In a word: HOPE. At least that’s what the old TV series was selling at the time and that’s what the premise of the show embraced to begin with. Everything else that followed was derived from that one premise. The hope of a continuing future beyond planet Earth, not just for white Americans, but for all races and cultures. Today’s message or motives may be different altogether, however, the inference of UNITY (Queen Latifah) still survives.

 

Roddenberry at the time found himself on the cusp of something extraordinary in historical world events. He helped break the racial barrier in America, at least, and presented the world, via his Series, a brotherhood of humanity in deep space. Not only did he foresee a bright future for the world at large, but he did so with the inclusion of a new world order, a conglomeration of race and cultures that would set a new standard for years to come.  His legacy has lived on ever since, but more importantly, it had its beginnings at a time when America in particular was barely beyond its cultural divide, which began in part with the race riots of the early sixties. Yes, a century earlier, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared the Emancipation Proclamation, abolishing slavery in the southern states. (President Lincoln represents the freedom embraced by our current President Obama.) Others such as, Malcom X and Dr. Martin Luther King took up the cause in the sixties, but despite their sacrifices, blacks were hardly free at all. There was still widespread segregation, which limited where blacks could go and what they could do. Where was the freedom in that?


 

Enter, Gene Roddenberry in 1969, at a time in U.S. history when race relations and disruptions, were at their peak and in desperate need of social change―at the cusp of societal evolution, in fact. Roddenberry single-handedly proposed to feature not only a woman as a lieutenant on a Starship, but a black woman at that―Lieutenant Uhura (which means “freedom” in Swahili [Uhuru]). Groundbreaking? Controversial? Almost impossible? You bet it was, but Roddenberry’s vision of a future with hope of equality, an integrated humanity, and equal rights for women, was set in motion.

 

His cast of space-bound explorers included a Russian, a Scottish, an Asian, and another species altogether, a Vulcan, by the name of Dr. Spock. (The Vulcan greeting symbolizes the letter shin, the first letter of the word Shadai, a secret Hebrew name for God.)  I believe he also featured African Americans and Hispanics, however they were not part of the main cast.  Nevertheless, his point was made and eventually well-taken by the Studios and the first to embrace his magnanimous vision was none other than NASA and MIT among many others. Yet, it was NASA who would exemplify Roddenberry’s vision by populating the Challenger with a similar “cast” of astronauts. The result? NASA’s high profile of its historic launch, which included such a diverse crew of astronauts, similar to the Starship Enterprise, set off a tsunami of societal change that has been fruitful until this day and planted a seed into the subconscious of America, which was one of the reasons President Obama was elected into office. Far-fetched you say? Is this a radical idea formed by a conspiracy theorist, or is it part of the truth?

 

I submit to you, that the collective conscience of America was finally ripe for the picking of this extraordinary President, partly because of Roddenberry’s vision set in the sixties. Many other factors of course contributed to Obama’s election, however, the number of voters who voted for this president was in fact due to the coalescence in America’s mindset, a shift in white America’s thinking―their acceptance of someone different into mainstream society and into a position of power. Not to mention their many years of guilt by association to slavery and its aftereffects. This goes beyond quotas and the NAACP, folks. We’re talking about the collective conscience of a nation in desperate need of not only change in its politics, but a shift of power to a people, a race, which they maligned for hundreds of years.

 

Let’s face it, white America is always trying to make it up to the black community for slavery. White guilt shows up everywhere. (Is there any reason why an Italian like Jay Leno always hires a black band? I think he panders to black folks and it’s insincere and self-serving. You never saw a white band on Arsenio Hall’s talk-show.) (Pull out your barf-bag right here and hurl like you mean it.) At first, the guilt grew out of fear, and still does, but now, it stems more out of commercialism and greed. White folks finally realized that black folk have money to spend and they now market exclusively to them. That “business model” has worked so well that their advertising now markets directly to every race and every culture. The result? A brisk economy fueled by more buying and spending from groups, cultures that had forever been left out of the marketing loop. Show me the money.

 

All this out of White America’s guilt and fear of black folk? Well, have you ever heard of the White Miss America Pageant, or all White universities? The White this or that? Yes, there are double standards and White America, comprised of a majority of Jewish and Irish folk, must now swallow it without as much as a peep. And they do.

 

Have you ever seen a news anchor team that did not include an Asian or a black woman? Email me when you do so we can both share this shocking event. I have yet to see it in America.

 

So what’s my problem with all this? What am I an agnostic, as Roddenberry admitted being, yet included godlike entities in many of the Star Trek shows? Am I racist? After all, I’m among the minority too.

 

What’s wrong with diversity and unity in America and beyond?

 

Nothing. Nothing at all, as long as it comes from the heart.

 

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Next week it’s all about publishing again and I’m going to point you to a website that I believe is groundbreaking in its approach to getting your book published. Good stuff.

 

Godspeed. (Guys, get your eyes back up here.)

 

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