Why Racial Representation Matters

In a world where life can be scary and unpredictable, many people find solace in comics, video games, movies, and TV shows. They take us away from a world we don’t always want to be a part of, and transport us to another universe. The great thing about these forms of media is that people connect with them. We love our favorite characters because we relate to them on some level. The more a character is like us, or is dealing with the same issues as us, the more we care. This creates a beautiful opportunity in nerd culture to be more diverse and inclusive on all levels.

Today we are going to talk about minorities.

This topic has been a battlefield for centuries and continues today. While there has been an immeasurable amount of pain and suffering within these different groups, many people are standing up for what is right and making a positive difference. Within the last few decades many artists of fictional characters have branched out and created phenomenal leaders and influencers.

The most iconic leader of all time, Captain America, was redesigned as African American, Sam Wilson.

Star Trek Explored It First

One of the first franchises to make a vast change was Star Trek. Created in 1966 by Gene Roddenberry, this universe has it all. Its multicultural and multiracial cast created considerable controversy back in the 1960s. With a Japanese helmsman, a Russian navigator, an African-American officer and even different species than human helping to run the Enterprise; it is all inclusive. Though when it was released they received plenty of criticism, it was groundbreaking television for the time and its social impact has continued through the years. Because of Star Trek’s legacy, countless companies have followed their lead. 

Star Trek featured the first multi-racial kiss on TV, when Captain Kirk kissed Lieutenant Uhura

New Stories In The New Star Wars

Speaking of exploring galaxies, Star Wars has now upped their diversity as well. With the recent releases of Episode VII: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story many transitions have been made. The first was having John Boyega, an African-American, play a leading role as Finn in Episode VII.  In previous episodes there were some minor characters and voiceovers portrayed by various ethnicities, but Finn was one of a kind and was noticed in many communities.


There were some hateful comments following the choice that was made which were ignored by the filmmakers and who then progressed even further with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  This movie not only was a huge success, but made history by having a diverse band of heroes all working together without issue. The group included: Cassian Andor, played by Diego Luna who is Hispanic; Chirrut Îmwe, played by Donnie Yen who is Asian; Baze Malbus played by Wen Jiang who is Asian; Saw Gerrera played by Forest Whitaker who is African-American; and Bodhi Rook played by Riz Ahmed who is Anglo-Pakistani. They worked well together , and they were united against a common enemy. This movie was a rare picture in diversity; something that we hope to see more of with upcoming movies.


Marvel Inclusion

In addition, Marvel has taken steps to become more inclusive with their comics, TV shows, and movies. Recently we have seen characters such as Ghost Rider in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. played by Gabriel Luna who is Hispanic to Kamala Khan, the first Muslim (Pakistani-American) character to headline her own comic book as Ms. Marvel. But one show that made a considerable impact was Netflix’s Luke Cage. First appearing in 1972 during the rise of blaxploitation films; Luke, an African-American from Harlem, has superhuman strength and unbreakable skin. When the Netflix series came out in 2016 it made a fearless political and social stance. Though the show received some backlash for their choices, it was breakthrough and was arguably one of Marvel’s most important shows to date. 

Luke Cage was portrayed by Mike Colter

As racism and social strife continue on more genre media has taken an effort in focusing on inclusiveness. From the original Star Trek to this new generation of Star Wars, comic books and fantasy films, nerd culture is growing in its diversity to support and represent more and more of their fans.

Many people look to superheroes to give them hope in a fallen world, and when that hero is like you, suddenly it’s a little easier to get through the day. When you know there are others like you going through the same thing, you aren’t left feeling alone.

Who’s your favorite Person of Color character? Let us know in the comments below!

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