Color Matters Not! just say no to racism in the Star Wars saga!

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Title: Color Matters Not! just say no to racism in the Star Wars saga!
Creator:
Date(s): winter 1997
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Wars
Topic:
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Color Matters Not! just say no to racism in the Star Wars saga! is an article by Alex Newborn in Blue Harvest #11.

first page of the three-page essay

Topic Discussed

  • Marvel Comics and characters of color
  • George Lucas and casting choices
  • a Richard Pryor skit
  • characters of color in tie-in books

Excerpts

Younger fans of the immortal Trilogy can watch in six hours on videotape what took some people six years to experience theatrically. Between the overnight success of the first film and the decision to produce its proposed sequels, creator George Lucas would draw sharp criticism for his movie's lack of ethnic roles and set out to change this misconception in the public's mind, all in less than three short years.
Diahann Carroll appeared in a segment of the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special as a virtual reality holographic simulation of Chewbacca's father Itchy's vision of the ideal woman. This inter-species fantasy paved the way for romances between different species in the recent Jedi Academy trilogy by Kevin J. Anderson. Popular Star Wars novelist Brian Daley introduced a very positive character named Rekkon in Han Solo at Stars' End, who like Katya M'Buele dies in the same story which introduced him. Had this coincidence become a trend with all non-white characters, it might very well have incurred further accusations of racism. Luckily, in his next book Han Solo's Revenge Daley gave the smuggler a love interest in the form of Hart-and-Parn Gorra-Fiolla of Lorrd (or Fiolla for short) whose "skin was a rich brown." Although this second interracial romance for Han would also not work out, Fiolla does manage to stay alive.
George Lucas is quoted as saying, "I get upset over injustice and inequality," and so was understandably concerned that critics hadn't looked deeper into his film, beyond its surface, in order to find the subtle lessons about discrimination and tolerance which he had made within his science-fiction setting.
The presence of blacks in the films and spin-offs achieved an added level to Lucas's theme of acceptance, but the equally vital lessons Author L. Neil Smith explored Lando Calrissian's relationship with the robot Vuffi Rao in a trio of less-popular prequel novels. While the Lando books are often criticized by fans. Smith's writing does have merit. In a running gag which spans all three adventures only to result in the practical-joke-an-the-reader ending, Calrissian is even more uncomfortable than Luke Skywalker at having an intelligent lifeform call him "Master." As he comes to regard the droid as a friend, Lando even offers to manumit the robot, allowing him independence from a life of servitude. Vuffi Roa, for his part, finds out he is more than just someone's properly in the end. Once the color barrier had been broken, the public practically forgot the criticism had even existed. Black characters became so commonplace in Star Wars comics that no one even questioned the presence of a non-white Imperial officer in issue #51; even the Nazi-like villains could make exceptions to their bigotry, it seemed, and before too long fans discovered there were the occasional alien and female Imperials as well (plenty of 'em in the recent novels!).
Today's Star Wars fans know that the Saga is for everyone, but it is important to recall that the creators went to great lengths to insure that the correction of an unintentional oversight was carried out with dignity and tact. The "non-whites" In the various incarnations of the story aren't included simply to be politically correct, but rather because Lucas tried so very hard to prove he had always considered everyone equal despite their differences. And hopefully, as he watches each new generation of children take the moral lessons of his films to heart, his fictitious universe will positively affect the inhabitants of one planet very,very near. As George Lucas says in Dale Pollock's Skywalking, "A lot of problems could diminish if we realized we're all the same underneath our costumes." Spoken like a true filmmaker.