When 90% of the captains in the Federation are white dudes, one has to start wondering at what point should we start realizing that we are assigning our contemporary privileges on to a show that is supposed to be about progress.
Furthermore, identity politics are important in television because television doesn’t represent us. I once saw Avery Brooks, and someone asked him what the biggest change in Hollywood has been since he started, and he said that it was nothing. That he was still waiting for the change. That he was still waiting for Hollywood look like the world.
We need identity representation in the media because it doesn’t exist, whether you like it or not.
As such, Brooks’ position has always been interesting to me. In Star Trek, his character isn’t defined by race, as you sort of point out. Yet, the first thing we think about when we think of Sisko is that he was the first black captain. That should let you know how important these two contexts a show lies are. There is what it supposed to be, and then there is what it is.
Let’s face it. The original series of Star Trek was a mess of sexism and neo-colonialism, and TNG has more than a few problems smoothing over cultures to fit Federation standards, and then touting it as a good thing. Star Trek isn’t perfect because the people of today write it, and that’s worth looking at it. That’s why identity in Star Trek is important. Alison “Boom” Baumgartner, (Comment on “Who Will Be the Next Star Trek Captain”)