The Pigment Of Your Epidermis Is Irrelevant

I’m about to reveal something about myself. Something so surprising, perhaps even shocking to some readers who think there can’t possibly be anything they don’t already know about me. After all, there are over 300 posts on this blog dedicated to my observations and exasperations. Consider yourselves forewarned. Prepare to be amazed.

Star-Trek-Nemesis-Picard-Crew

I’m a Trekkie. No, I don’t go to conventions dressed as Mr. Spock or have a multiphasic shield generator in my garage, but I know more Star Trek trivia than anyone should and I think Gene Roddenberry was a genius. I also think the original Star Trek series with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy is an outrageously hysterical integration of science fiction and male fantasy. Come on! Put some pants on Lt. O’Hara for goddsakes!

My favorite Star Trek character is, who else, Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Patrick Stewart superbly portrays honor, courage, intellect, humor, and sex appeal wrapped up in a perfectly flawed human. There is no question he was the right man for the job when upgrading The Next Generation of Starfleet officers. Of course, there were some pathetic holdovers from the original Star Trek. Counselor Troi’s empath-a-go-go look for instance.

tng-hd2
Source: Google Images

Give a girl some pants, why don’t ya! (This is not a question.)

Someone finally did get a clue and brought some dignity to women on the bridge and as the seasons passed, race and sex became less and less a reflection of the ridiculousness in our culture. The terms species and life form replaced race and the strange worlds and new civilizations that Star Trek crews encountered seemed no more strange than our own world with its polluted environment and societies sustained by legalism and debt capital.

Enter my next favorite character, Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero One. How’s that for being labeled by where you come from? Seven, as she is affectionately called by her shipmates, is a human female cyborg. As Star Trek roles for women go, of course her uniform accentuates what usually passes for attributes in most entertainment these days, but Seven is not just another body suit with blond hair, she’s got cyber brains and she knows how to use them. She appears feminine, but she’s completely badass. 

Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

Now, to my point. There are actors from diverse ethnic backgrounds playing these characters. You can tell for instance that Lieutenant Worf, played by Michael Dorn, has African heritage. Sure they could have used make up to create Worf’s complexion, but they didn’t. Maybe they chose Dorn for his booming voice or his stature. Who knows? Who cares? Worf is a fine specimen of a human, um, Klingon human. Whatever.

Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

Other Star Trek characters have pigmentation that is, let’s just say, interesting. Blue, spotted, permanently tatted, orange, grey, ghostly…the palette goes on and on. What I find so interesting is that conflicts between races (species or life forms) depicted on Star Trek are never about skin color. They are about territory and resources, beliefs and power to control them. Hatred may be an interstellar practice, but if we examine human behavior we will see that conflict in real life isn’t about skin color any more than in this sci-fi series.

Need proof? Okay.

People of Caucasian and Asian persuasion spend time, money, and risk skin cancer to tan their skin to a golden brown. There are some fake bakers who prefer a nice shade of pumpkin. People with beautiful caramel or deep, rich mocha coloring bleach their skin. People with straight hair use curling irons, while people with curly hair flat iron the hell out of theirs. Some go to extraordinary lengths to change their appearance. So, my question is this. How did we ever let our collective consciousness become convinced that skin color is a factor in any conflict when it is as plain as the nose on our face(s) that it is NOT?

Copyright - Paramount Pictures
Copyright – Paramount Pictures

Territory, resources, beliefs – THESE are the root causes of conflict. People are more likely to hate themselves because of the color of their skin…or eyes, or hair, or teeth. Whoever the genius (not) was who decided to create this fiction that people hate other people because of the color of their skin knew exactly how to manipulate the masses with misdirection. Fear mongers seek to control others by preying on self-loathing, convincing people they are hated for the very reasons they hate themselves. There will probably always be people who create conflict where there is none, but I think most of us are fundamentally the same. We want to live long and prosper.

Resistance Was Futile

Related info you may want to check out: http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/

27 thoughts on “The Pigment Of Your Epidermis Is Irrelevant

  1. The original had the first inter-racial kiss ever shown on television, did you know that? Good old Bill kissed everyone.

    I am a Trekker, yes I always have been. Patrick Stewart was my favorite though.

    1. Was that before Desi and Lucy? I remember the scene. Didn’t seem too shocking considering, like you said, Shatner kissed everyone. I agree, Patrick Stewart is pretty terrific.

  2. Great post, Honie!
    I was forced to be a Trekkie as a kid. The original series, then Generations and I’m starting to realize I loved those times, and have revisited both series – especially the ridiculousness of the original.
    Dutch Chocolate ice cream!

    1. It’s good to know you don’t suffer from Forced Trekkie Syndrome. I am an equal opportunity chocoholic. Dutch chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate – I love them all. A few years ago. I discovered an awesome brand of Mexican hot chocolate, Chuao Spicy Maya.
      It’s out of this world!! HA!

  3. Remember the episode in TOS where the guys with the black and white faces hated each other – one had a black right side of his face, the other he left? To me this episode showed a touch of Roddenberry’s genius – their bias was ludicrous to everyone but them – I think it sadly rings true sometimes. They were the same color(s) and still only saw their differences. Oops, I think my geek is showing.

  4. Just to add some excessive pedantry to the mix, a “Trekker” is someone who admires and loves the show. A “Trekkie” is someone who’s lost their mind a bit over it. (Owning a pair of Spock ears or a “phaser” is a good indicator of the latter.) ((While I’m being pedantic: a “geek” is an expert in something esoteric, and a “nerd” is a social misfit. Not all geeks are nerds, nor are all nerds geeks, although there is considerable crossover.))

    Despite its cheesiness and 60s sensibilities, I’ve always found something a little magical about the original. The “first of its kind” is a special position, and knowing how hard Roddenberry fought for those three short years, and at that time, gives “TOS” (The Original Series) a special magic. He had to bill the show as “Wagon Train to the stars” to sell it. Only us SF geeks knew about, let alone loved, that stuff back then.

    Then came Star Wars and suddenly everyone one loved “science fiction” (while being largely unaware of what it really is) It became mainstream, so by the time “TNG” (The Next Generation) came along there was a market, there was money, and TV special effects and production design were 20 years improved. TNG is better than TOS in almost all regards, but it’s a sequel! They were going where someone had boldly gone 20 years earlier (and where many had gone since). Better TV, better story telling, even better acting (mostly), but there’s still something special about the original.

    Maybe it’s just the memories!

    1. Well I guess I’m neither. I’m not drawn in by the “show” but to the ideas expressed by the writers. What a bunch of thinkers Roddenberry brought together! More than the production and marketing and Trekkophoria. The very idea that humans could stop warring with each other long enough to go in search of a ham sandwich much less new civilizations just blows me away.

    2. I’m a Trekk[er], but only of the TOS. lol You have to love all these acronyms and labels! I was a teen when TOS came out and I loved every moment of it.

  5. I suppose colour starts to enter the equation when conflicts arise because of differences – there is a tendency for some people to want people to do things their way. When the differences can be generalized by colour, the slippery slope takes shape.

    1. I appreciate your comment, Lyle. You’re right about that ever present slippery slope, and yet, I don’t know what makes color relevant in a disagreement about anything other than maybe how to spell color. (kidding you about the use of “u” of course) People choose what is relevant I suppose. Some differences will remain no matter the conflict. So, why not have an honest, issue focused dialogue to resolve conflict and begin with what people have in common? It’s situational, no doubt and too complex for this little ole blog of mine, but it is truly my hope that someday we will develop the capacity to identify up front what is relevant to solving problems and what is someone just trying to stir the pot. We all bleed the same colour.

      1. It all starts with something small like an inability to accept a different spelling and then who knows where it ends:)

        I think people who are sensitive or antagonistic to differences in a whole bunch of areas often make generalizations to separate “us” and “them” – what doesn’t start as colour, quickly becomes a short-hand generalization. That short-hand approach can be true in many areas of life and society where the symptoms get all the attention and the root causes are left to grow.

        I completely agree with your ideal approach. Now all we have to do is get there!

  6. I never thought I’d like Star Trek, until I recently watched the Star Trek film that came out in 2009, which was pretty good and it got me interested. As a Trekkie, were would you advise me to start series-wise?

    1. Strictly for laughs, the original as long as you can stand the cheesy effects and Shatner’s overacting. (No offense intended, Bill) The Next Generation starts off a little wonky, but once the crew has time to gel a bit, you get a sense that there might be hope for humanity in the distant future once poverty and cruelty and sick care as big business are eliminated. Idealist, that Roddenberry! I didn’t care for the Deep Space Nine series, but you might like it. Voyager had to grow on me. I never liked Nelix or the hologram doctor though. I think that’s a good start.

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