More on race: this essay by Pam Noles is beautifully written, poignant and powerful. Easy adjectives to throw around, sure; but man does this essay earn it. Here’s an excerpt, and I hope it entices you enough to go read the whole thing:
Then “Star Wars” came out. I was 11, and in the car with the seat belt fastened on that Saturday of its opening week before Dad even managed to find his keys. I spazzed all the way through the screening, my first science fiction movie on the big screen and with everything so huge, it made a big difference. When Dad returned after the movie and managed to cull me from herd of Jedis-in-training blitzing around the courtyard, I launched into it. Han Solo had this ship that he flew upside down! Darth Vader even breathed scary!! And there were robots!!! And Luke had to fly into the canyon on the Death Star with the other ships shooting at him and he had to get the bomb into a tiny hole and then he turned off the machine thing and he prayed to Obi Wan and bomb went in. And then they got medals. Also there was a giant teddy bear with stringy hair and a gun.
He said it sounded as if I liked it. I said I mostly thought it was absolutely great. And it was, really. Don’t get me wrong. But it was like most of the other stuff I had seen. I explained to him about the planet where Luke came from, a desert with two suns? And how here, where we only one sun, in the desert the people are black. I told him how there wasn’t even one black person in the whole movie, even in the background, and I had looked.
Back then I didn’t understand enough why part of me felt an empty echo even as the rest was hyper-jazzed. Over the years I realized my expectations were not in line with reality. I thought a movie made in the modern time, not one created back when black people didn’t exist, would reflect the reality of the world. And if there had been at least one brown person in “Star Wars,” someone besides the unseen rumbling black baritone voicing the ultimate evil, then I would have at last one thing to point when I felt I needed to justify. But it turned out this fantasy set in a far-away galaxy a long time ago operated under the same old rules. Not even the force of two suns could do a thing to change who was allowed to exist in the universe.