shows more racial diversity among cameos from alien species than it does among human characters in main speaking roles. Worse still, iconic Star Trek
villain Khan Noonien Singh was recast as Benedict Cumberbatch, possibly the whitest man on the planet.
In Khan’s original role, he was super-intelligent, super-strong, the head of a genetically engineered master race—and brown. In other words, the opposite of the usual racial stereotypes one saw in mid-20th century “foreign” or “exotic” villains. Whitewashing Khan into being an posh-sounding Englishman reinforces the message sent out by Kirk, Spock, and the morally ambiguous Admiral Marcus: Good or evil, everyone in power is a white male. Suddenly, the awkwardness surrounding one of John Cho’s publicity interviews makes sense. “Who is your favourite villain?” he is asked. “Ricardo Montalban,” he answers. “He was badass. And a man of color, I might add.” Nervous laughter. Next question, please.
Representation matters. Star Trek is proof of that. Kirk and Uhura famously shared US TV’s first interracial kiss, and Uhura went on to inspire the first black female astronaut to go into space. When Nichelle Nichols was thinking of quitting the show, Martin Luther King, Jr. felt that her position as a role model was so important that he personally asked her to reconsider staying on. [READ MORE]