An Open Letter to the Star Trek Community

To the Star Trek Community,

I write this from a place of deep respect, gratitude and compassion, and with hope that what I have to say will be received in good faith and be heard.

I am an immigrant woman of colour who found Star Trek at a time when I was at my lowest and stuck in what seemed like perpetual darkness, and it was this wonderful franchise and its powerful message which uplifted me and brought me back into the light so that today I can truly say that I am at my strongest. As such, Star Trek’s positive influence in my life has been no small thing. Star Trek has taught me to be the captain of my life, to reach for the stars, to stand up for what is right no matter the cost, and, above all, to be brave and bold.

And so, in the spirit of boldly going, I humbly call on ALL white members of the Star Trek Community — creators, platform curators, prominent fans and figures, including and especially Star Trek cast members, past and present — who believe in the underlying mission and vision of Star Trek to formally denounce all forms of racism and bigotry and those who uphold such abhorrent beliefs; I call on you to condemn the actions of those who have harmed Black and Indigenous people, and all People of Colour (BIPOC); and I call on you to strive to do more and do better for the sake of BIPOC in both the Star Trek community and in your own lives who have been subjected to racism. Finally, I encourage you to urge your supporters in this community to do the same, particularly those who are now finally waking up to the injustices perpetrated against BIPOC.

I am, of course, aware that the official Star Trek entity released a statement in this vein recently. I know many of you have expressed one way or another your support for the Black Lives Matter movement. I see you. It’s a good start. But it is not enough. I need each of you who hold so much influence within this community to do this, to say once and for all that you will not condone racism and anti-Blackness from your supporters, fans and followers any longer. It is important for this to happen.

I know you support the vision of the great Gene Roddenberry and the powerful philosophy of Star Trek and what it stands for. I know you believe in these words as much as I do:

“Star Trek was an attempt to say that humanity will reach maturity and wisdom on the day that it begins not just to tolerate, but take a special delight in differences in ideas and differences in life forms.”

But many white supporters within the Trek community truly do not share these sentiments, and they have proven this time and again, especially as they have belittled and driven fans of colour like me away instead of putting the mission of Star Trek into practice and welcoming us with open arms. Both on-and-offline, there are those who have insulted and degraded BIPOC involved in the Trek community— and not just fans but creatives, actors, and notable figures of colour alike. We have been treated us as inferior and dismissed.

I have seen and witnessed it with my own eyes. I have endured this myself and I cannot explain to you how hurtful it has been for many of us. I am a fan who has experienced so much harm from many white people I have come across in Trek spaces, at conventions and events, even among those I had considered friends, and for it to come from within a franchise that promotes love, hope and acceptance, it has been devastating. What I once looked to as a safe haven no longer is.

I can only speak for myself and from my own experiences. And based on my experience, my call to action here is completely necessary. Because something I never say aloud, something I constantly have to process and reprocess in therapy is that 6 years ago when I was 24, the night before I first met my Trek heroes, I cried bitter tears because I felt that they would not accept me because I wasn’t white, that I was unlovable by even the most amazing people because I was not white like them. 24 years old. A grown adult. And I felt that way. So many white Trek supporters contributed to making me feel that way every time they overtly and subtly implied that their whiteness made them superior. I have remained silent about this and numerous other incidents for many years, but living in silence has only served to intensify the painful experiences I’ve had, and so I share this to stress the urgency with which this community-wide issue needs to be addressed. We cannot allow damage like this to continue towards BIPOC in this community.

Racism destroys the soul. Racism is why I hurt myself for so long and why so many white supporters have harmed fans of colour like me, despite their claims that they believe in all that Star Trek stands for. Racism hurts us all. This is just a small part of my story. Imagine how many more there are like it or even worse. As white people, you will never experience racism and you may not see the abominable treatment BIPOC in the Trek community encounter, but it is happening.

With the Black Lives Matter protests gaining momentum worldwide, it couldn’t be more clear that now is not the time to find the middle ground on issues like this, because there is none when it comes to racism. Either you are against it or not. And I promise you, the Trek community does not need the support of people who go out of their way to justify any and all racist acts, because as we can clearly see, even the smallest racial microaggressions and biases can ultimately lead to murder. The desire to keep the peace in the fandom and franchise is not more important than Black lives. Especially because the truth is, as far as I have observed, there has never been actual peace.

We are presently witnessing a global reckoning in which many are finally starting to acknowledge the existing ways racism and white supremacy are upheld. As a community that claims to value all beings and embrace all differences, it only makes sense for Star Trek and all its community members to lead the way to a better future in the entertainment and creative industries and beyond, and to start doing so by looking within ourselves and our own backyard. We MUST clean up this community so that all People of Colour can truly feel safe and welcomed and be embraced and celebrated in every Trek space.

As I issue my call to action, I urge you to consider doing the following:

  1. First, in particular for prominent white cast and creatives, please let the Trek community know where you stand. If you have not already done so, please let people know that you will not tolerate any further bigotry and racist behaviour from anyone. Please let your Black fans and all fans of colour know that you are with us. And please don’t mince words.
  2. Amplify the voices of BIPOC within this community. So many of us are constantly silenced and drowned out and it is time for us to be heard. Our presence only enhances the Trek community. Uplift and embrace us. We matter.
  3. If you manage any online Trek-related spaces and platforms, it is your responsibility to moderate and remove speech that is racist against BIPOC. It is imperative for you to enforce stricter commenting policies and do all that you can to protect BIPOC from further harm. And for those participating in these spaces, it is equally your duty to call out and report any such speech you encounter.
  4. Educate your fellow white Trekkies who don’t yet understand why this is important. BIPOC have expended a lot of labor attempting to do so already but we have been dismissed, ignored, and cast aside. The onus is now on you to ease us of this burden and do the work given your positions of influence.
  5. Hold yourselves and other white people in your Trek networks accountable to BIPOC community members. Make this part of your norm so that it becomes second nature to you, especially so these issues don’t ever fade into the background as they have often done in the past. This is an opportunity to improve and get it right.
  6. Continue supporting the Black Lives Matter movement even after it stops trending. Visit https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ to find helpful resources, make donations, sign petitions, and to get more involved in this work beyond the Trek community. This work is ongoing. It is lifelong.

Committing to doing every one of these would be small yet meaningful steps in the ongoing struggle for racial justice and it would make a significant difference. So with great respect and love, I implore you to use your power and privilege to do this for BIPOC, for yourselves, for all of us.

Stand up with and speak up for all BIPOC fans, friends and colleagues, far and wide. Be loud about it.

Be as loud and unrelenting as LeVar Burton. He has always been at the helm of this struggle, has always been upfront about it, and I love and admire him for it. Follow his lead.

Naturally, fear courses through me as I write all this, but I think of Gates McFadden, a great hero of mine, who once rocked the boat and spoke up against the sexism and racism she witnessed while working on TNG and was actually fired for it. If she can do that, then I think I can do this regardless of the risk. Because I know what I’m asking for and ultimately fighting for is right. Because what we can no longer deny is that lives are at stake. Black lives. And they matter.

Now it is up to you to do your part. Boldly go, in hope and with love.

And may you Live Long and Prosper.

Miranda is an Indo-Guyanese writer, director, performance artist, and storyteller who combines art and activism to increase representation and visibility for marginalized groups. She originated the cosplay character Bollywood Bev in homage to Star Trek’s Dr. Beverly Crusher and as a personal endeavour to advocate for inclusion and representation in the Trek franchise and other media. It expanded beyond cosplaying Dr. Crusher and now other Desi Trek characters are in the works. You can find Miranda on Twitter @mira_baii.

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