*Sonequa Martin-Green, the first black woman to lead a “Star Trek” cast, has been getting an earful from longtime fans of the franchise who don’t appreciate the increasing diversity of its characters.
This fall, CBS All Access will continue Gene Roddenberry’s universe with “Star Trek: Discovery,” featuring Martin-Green’s as First Officer Michael Burnham. Her commanding officer is Captain Philippa Georgiou, played by another woman of color, Michelle Yeoh, while Anthony Rapp stars as the franchise’s first openly gay character, a science officer Lt. Stamets.
According to EW, the term “white genocide” has been bandied about among disgruntled fans.
“Well, 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,” Martin-Green said in response. “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 them 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.”
To Martin-Green’s point, the original show was considered progressive in the 60s, due to a racially diverse cast that ‘s included a black woman (Lt. Uhura played by Nichelle Nichols), a Japanese man (Lt. Sulu played by George Takei) and a Russian character (ensign Chekov played by Walter Koenig). The show also featured TV’s first interracial kiss and frequently tackled issues of social justice in allegorical ways.
“And it’s hard to understand and appreciate ‘Star Trek’ if you don’t understand and appreciate that,” Martin-Green continued. “It’s one of the foundational principles of Star Trek and I feel if you miss that then you miss the legacy itself. I’m incredibly proud to be the lead of this show and be at the forefront of an iteration of ‘Star Trek’ that’s from the eyes of a black woman that’s never been done before, though obviously there’s been other forms of diversity that have been innovated by ‘Trek.’ I feel like we’re taking another step forward, which I think all stories should do. We should go boldly where nobody has gone before and stay true to that.”