January 20, 2009

Congrats to Obama: President and Confirmed Trekkie

I really do want to congratulate Barack Obama for becoming the 44th president of the white house, and the first African American President of the United States.

Some of you may know that Barack is also a confirmed Trekkie, and believes in the final frontier.  I can see why too--Star Trek has forever been talking about people like him and I.  People who are from two extreme distinct backgrounds that may not always get along.  I think this is one of the many reasons Gene Roddenberry is a genius.  He was talking about interracial people and their identities  before there were a lot of us in America to talk about in the first place.  It's a big deal for me.  Today, in honor of our President's many backgrounds (and hopefully a finer appreciation of mine)  I want to discuss how being interracial was dealt with on Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation, two shows from my childhood that in some ways taught me how to accept who I am.

Gene Roddenberry dealt with a lot of issues dealing with different alien races because the censors back in the day didn't like dealing with real race issues.  For example, when he first thought of doing Star Trek, he wanted the first commander to be a black human.  This would be a great way to talk about race relations.  However, he knew it wouldn't fly with the censors.  So instead he tried to make Majel Barrett first in command as a woman and put Spock on the bridge in the pilot.  The censors didn't like a woman first in command, stating that is wasn't believable to the audience.  When the first season aired, there was Spock as first in command, a half human half Vulcan.

Spock was the archetype of "the other" on the ship.  He constantly was representing his Vulcan heritage, choosing  suppress his emotions as is standard custom.  He was logical in thought and hardly ever let his feelings dictate who he was or his actions.   This played well against the over emotional McCoy, who says some nasty things to Spock.  If I were part Vulcan I wouldn't want someone just going around calling me Green-Blood, even if it is true.  I have a name, thankyouverymuch.  But Spock looked past his ignorance and merely carried on his customs.  He even had to defend his heritage in the great episode Balance of Terror, having to aid his ship being attacked by Romulans while at the same time suffering prejudice because he looked just like them.  

What I think allowed me to relate to Spock the most was the episode where his parents were on the Enterprise.  Sarek, his father, was a Vulcan Ambassador known for his many achievements.  It seemed his mother, Amanda, was being the dutiful politician's wife but also a caring, loving mother.  The tension between Sarek and Spock at the beginning of the episode was thicker than butter.  Sarek was disappointed that his son went to Starfleet instead of becoming a scientist on Vulcan.  It seemed that Spock could never be Vulcan enough.  Here we have the classic struggle for interracial people seen time and time again: Never could Spock be human enough to Starfleet peers, nor Vulcan enough even to his own father.  Spock chose to be more Vulcan than anything else, and was embarrassed to let his human emotions out.  Yet he could never satisfying either side of his heritage.

Would I say Barack can relate most to being Spock?  Actually, no.  Although a lot of interracial people can understand what's happened to Spock by finally picking a background to stick to, I don't think Barack has done that.  He isn't just black, and he isn't just white.  He's both.  He accepts both sides and how each of them have affected him as a person.  I can relate to that 100%, because that's how I feel about the issue too.  Unfortunately Spock never gets to that point in the series, unless of course you're awesome and you see the director's cut of the first Star Trek movie.  But that's a rant for another day.

Who has accepted both side of their heritage in the Star Trek universe?  Deanna Troi, that's who.  She's half betazoid and half human, and accepts both of those cultures as part of her own.  She even helps Worf's ex-wife(who's half Klingon and half human) with the question of how to deal with one's heritage.  Deanna's character is all about acceptance, and because of that she accepts herself, every part of it.  Of course there is the episode where she loses her empathy powers and doesn't know how to relate to people, but that's something she's always had so it's almost like if I had lost my left eye or something like that.  

Barack is more like Deanna.  I'm more like Deanna.  I didn't choose to be more black or more white.  I'm both.  My history is from both of those culture in America.  And I'm glad I have the opportunity to appreciate both to the fullest.  Barack does the same.  I think with that idea of acceptance, he has become one of the most relatable and open presidents that America has had in a good time.  

Also he's a trekkie, so I trust the next four years of America are in good hands.


  1. As a guy with a mom born in Cuba and a Dad born in America, I know what it's like to sit down at a family gathering with two (and even three) different languages going around the table. Though, none of them was ever Klingon.

    Obama turns a new page because he's more like so many Americans these days, and it'll be good to have a guy in the Oval Office who knows just how diverse America really is. As a multi-racial person, as an Illinoisan, and as a guy who likes Star Trek and Spider-Man (and competent leadership :-) ) I'm damn proud to know that Barack Obama is the president!

  2. I'm posting this from Spain and I'm a trekker and Barack's admirer as well. I believe he's a great Roddenberry's supporter ideas and you notice this in his special charysma and way of doing politics. I believe Obama's inaugurating a new age of seeing the world and life tending a open hand to everyone even enemies. IHMO i believe it's the Gene's spirit to inspire the wise words in every Obama's spreech. And very close to Obama, generationally and in their personalities, is Zapatero, the 1st Minister of Spain. He has talked about the "Alleance of Civilizations", a kind of IDIC ideas introduced as well in the international politics searching for intercultural dialogue. Zapatero and Obama have a great mission now twds us. To guide us towards a great, brilliant future where does not exist poverty, injusticies or fears. Go Obama! Go Star trek! LLP