Posts Tagged ‘Uhura’


Since I was allowed to stay up late on Tuesday nights as a little gapher to watch the re-runs on CBC, Star Trek has been a part of my life. The stories, the social commentary, the inclusivity, the knowing of a better future to come. Watching as the technology I have seen on the screen has slowly and then rapidly become a reality. Think of what our Smart Phones (even flip phones) are like communicators, and sometimes tri-corders (and the body scans we can do now, like their med-beds), during C-tine, our video calls I do feel like asking for hailing frequencies to be open on screen. As each new era of the first book of my life emerged, readers know certain stores have resonated from the original, to the Next Generation to Deep Space Nine (DS9) to Enterprise to Voyager, enjoying Discovery, Picard and Lower Decks (looking forward to Prodigy and Strange New Worlds). Yet it is the underlying theme of all belonging, and freely being able to pursue one’s passion as purpose that resonate at the core of the storylines.

Which is why, as this section moves towards a close, this Reading Week as an instructor has been intriguing for what has come into my feeds. Clicked on Crave to watch the next episode of Season 3 of Discovery, and there was a documentary “Woman in Motion” about Nichelle Nicholls (who originated the character of Uhura) and her work with NASA.

I encourage viewing for everyone, but I also encourage discussion and dreming after viewing. The documentary shares the story of Ms. Nicholls, whose Dad never believed in the word, can’t. She shared of being a teenager, and singer with Count Bassie’s orchestra. How the lead singer, a sultry siren, was no longer there, and she got the nod to take the lead imitating her predecessor during the set. At the end, Bassie came to her, and bluntly asked what she was doing? As well, to knock it off, she had actual talent, so sing. Could you imagine the same advice being given to a young woman in the music industry today?

See the source image

The story of her beginning to work with Rodenberry with a role on one episode of his show, “The Lieutenant” around racism, that was so controversial it has never aired. What began that day though was a friendship of deep discussions on importnat issues of justice. Rodenberry promising he would have something for her. What was that? In a show idea known as “Wagon Train to the Stars” that would become Star Trek. The character? One Ms. Nicholls would help name, Uhura, and create. For the command crew of the Enterprise, represented the mosaic of humanity plus a Vulcan. Though during the first season she would see her role continue to shrink to a simple catch phrase “hailing frequencies open” to the point of resigning. It was during this time, at an event, a fan wanted to meet her. She was tired, and did not want to, but the hosts kept pushing, The Fan- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the message, you can’t resign. The retort, who are you to tell me how to run my career. The rationale by Dr. King, it is the only show he allows his children to watch, that he makes time to watch with his children. She stayed, an African American Lieutenant, the commander of communications.

The story shifts to the convention era, where she met a person from NASA, as they were moving from the Apollo era to the shuttle era, and Ms. Nicholls, once again challenged the norm, for she pointed out she could not see herself in the astronauts. A visit to NASA revealed the rainbow that made space flight possible, but the actual astronauts had a selection bias, and there was 4 months left to go in recruiting for the program…and Ms. Nicholls was hired, one caveat, she did not want to be a mascot. She took in astronaut training so she knew what she spoke about, she also did not have NASA folks with her when she went on her recruiting talks, filmed her PSA’s for television and radio. 4 month, criss crossing the country, receiving threats of harm when she spoke out, challenging the military recruiting process, as she recruited civilians (and those in the military overlooked) to thousands of applicants to the first 35, adn the friendships she cultivated in there to the Challenger in 1986…\

But her message was simple, she saw something that wasn’t right, and wanted to make it right.

An underpinning of Star Trek, in spite of the Prime Directive. Striving for IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations), a true courageous space for inclusivity. To move beyond the societal “isms” that were explored in Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode “Beyond the Stars” where Sisko, is back in time as a writer in the 1900s:

Sisko was the writer Benny Russell, who the readers believed was white. The world was very much polarized by colour, at least in the powerful money hands. This is the world that the bridge of Uhura challenged. This is the world that Star Trek in its IDIC continues to challenge, while cultivating critical and ethical thought processes.The shared extended metaphor of Bajoran-Cardassians, in the age of Reconciliaiont, of Settlers-Indigenous. And inspiring folks to discover their passions and pursue them. This is how I shaped the episodes and movies to be used in my teaching with youth and young adults, from exploration nights in youth groups, youth centres, young adult studies, discussion nights, oh and one fun confirmation cycle. It was a pleasure on Friday February 19, 2021 during a video conference out of Costa Rica linking the world (very Trekkie) to be able to thank one of the actors, who states she is a storyteller, Nana Visitor (played Major Kira Nerys in DS9) for the stories that inspired and have been used to inspire so many.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "TeC ”R Rica Tecnológico de Nana Visitor Friday February 19, 2021, 6pm Costa Rica AORNN SPACE"

A friend and former colleauge in journeying with those in life recovery and exiting homelessness to home, is now at home in Costa Rica cultivating his own passions around space exploration and community building as a teacher. This was a conference part of TEC. The exciting news that kicked off was Costa Rica adopting their own Space Agency (after a long history of working with NASA, and some excellent books co-authored by my friend, Bruce Callow). Their initiatives around education and STEM that has seen them in schools outside of Costa Rica (including Calgary), and having cameos with the books at the last Vul-Con before c-tine (and as rumours/bills from the Town Council of Vulcan the last focused event such as that).

We then shifted to an incredible and inspiring talk by our storyteller. Ms. Visitor shared about those great moments of entering The Flow. That is that moment when everything aligns, and it no longer feels like struggle or work, just going and what amazing things happen within a team when that moment is realized by a team. I have had the pleasure of experiencing those moments in my own writing and teaching, but also in community builidng and spiritual direction with the teams and communities we were a part of, an dyes it is powerful. The challenges thrown out that the way work is done needs to change, understanding work as a person with nothing outside the work is unhealthy and wrong. We need to cultivate a world that allows for healthy balance with work and life, and watch the miracles roll out, just think we have gotten this far with the broken system, how much farther could we go with an unbroken system?

Of course, there was talk of the power of representation within Star Trek, Ms. Visitor sharing when she first read the character of Kira, she thought it was a man, because rolls like that did not exist in the early 90’s for women. And when she found out it wasn’t, she wanted it. She shared on her Women of Trek project, interviewing the actresses who have played the powerful roles. The hope of Ms. Nicholls health holding so after c-tine she will be able to interview her in person for the book/documentary. This was one of the greatest moments, as there was the allusion that inclusivity also involves mental health and disabilities for pursuit of passions. As the character of Tilly in Discovery was brought up, for she is brilliant, yet can be crippled by anxiety, and she is important to show, that we can still be who we are in experiencing the world, and chase our passions.

Which leads us into a reflection for this first weekend of Lent,

If inclusivity was the norm

If you could live your dreams/passions

Who would you be?

*Guess what– that’s who Creator made you to be.

For more on Nana Visitor, read Bruce Callow’s article here.

My Facebook message after the event:


Vulcan, AB. A small prairie town that a few decades ago realized the greatest tourist option ever— the birthplace of Spock. For a Trekkie a great place, they have an information star base with souveniers and once every few years we go by and I pick up a few new things. One year my Dad’s day gift the kids got me a preaching hoody “Keep Khan and Klingon”. This year my daughter who wants to be a veterinarian got herself a doctor t-shirt; and my son got a shirt with a Spock head made from a famous McCoyism “are you out of your Vulcan Mind?”

One of the t-shirts from the 50th celebration sums up though the small minded ableism/elitism of the world, and how I feel in the fray. A caricature of McCoy with a word bubble, “50 years, Damn it Jim I am tired.”

Why you ask?

Because I see my son as a miracle worker, things he was not supposed to be able to do due to his blessings of life (tri-spastic CP, Epilepsy, ADHD, Global Delay)–well to quote Brad Paisley’s song– he’s been crushin’ it and breaking glass-kicking ass. Beside where my daughter got her t-shirt that looks like an original series medical/science uniform…they had an engineering one.

scottyThe fabled and joked in pop culture Red Shirt. My son, who I see as Scotty what a perfect gift, yet I didn’t. Why? Simple, I let the elitist ass hats get in my brain and stop me. Years ago my son so loved Superman that he wanted to be him for Halloween. He got the suit, and was so happy with his cape trailing after his wheel chair. And… adults ruined it for him in their nastiness.

“How could he mock Christopher Reeve so?”

“What a hateful costume?”

Really? A child (in a wheelchair) wanted to be Superman and you caused him to cry.

ac3Now another time to celebrate him, and I let these haters get in my head… I did not buy it because I did not need the negative “you know the red shirts always die first” crap. Not seeing beyond the scope and picture. Uhura was a red shirt. Scotty was a red shirt. The ones that beat the odds.

So yes, I am tired that they finally wore me down. I am tired that I let people like the Halloween haters win. The hateful families that had pushed us out of churches. The Minister that raged at my son from the pulpit. I am tired that in a moment I let them win.

I am tired, but I think another road trip to Vulcan is do.

Why?

Damn it Jim, the idjits aren’t going to beat us.


Some Sundays even when one is healthy they cannot pull it together to get to church with the family. It can even be harder after a night of neuro-events, that left your own son checking on you to make sure “Daddy was still alive”. This was the night that I had come through, and was not well rested when I awoke. But needed to fill up the spirit over my cheerios and cuppa, which led me to accept a challenge from a friend. Re-look at JJ Abrams 2009 Star Trek reboot.

See, the challenge is, I am not a huge fan of Star Trek XI-XIII. I understand a series rebooting, new generation, new ideas. Yet I was one of the Trekkies’ pulling for a Worf led Enterprise movie; or a Riker/Troi USS Titan or a DS9 or Voyager…or even and Enterprise series movie…if there was to be something new what about looking at Enterprise C or B? Or another ship completely in the Star Trek Universe. Why re-cast iconic characters (and yes I realize this happens with James Bond, Conan, Batman, The Doctor, etc.). But this was the original cast being, well, re-cast. It is also a bit of Trekkie cognitive dissonance because I may not be completely infatuated with the new movies Boldly Going, but have enjoyed the re-cast in the IDW comic series. Soooo….

So addled brained, lethargic and somewhat hypothermic I settled in to be filled.

I am part of an endangered species.

-Spock (2009)

The death of Romulus leading a time travel narrative, a nod to Remus’ demise in Star Trek: Nemesis. Nero seeking vengeance for loss of his family, and destroying Vulcan. The act of travelling back creating an alternate reality where not everything is the same (and Vulcan is destroyed by an act of Zealot-Terrorism). New imaginings of each character.

Yet core precepts remain the same.

You are now, and will always be my friend… I am emotionally compromised, I lost my people, you need to get others to see.

-Spock (TOS in 2009).

Scotty talking about beaming Admiral Archers dog into somewhere when trying transwarp teleporting. Elder (Other-reality) Spock doing a tongue-in-cheek nod to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, by giving Scotty a formula he would invent to move along a problem-solving plot point.

Kirk’s beating of the Kobayashi Maru (the no-win situation) a test designed by this reality’s Spock who chose Starfleet realizing he would never fit within Vulcan world fully. Playing out a more human side to the child of both world’s that followed Spock throughout the original.

Bones sharing his venture outwards to space, due to a loss of his family.

The ultimate no-win scenario to beat the drive of vengeance as Vulcan is in ruins, only 10,000 survivors and Nero has set his sights of Earth. The travel back in time to destroy the Federation (A Star Trek: First Contact nod), and red matter if it was the 1980’s you could hear the word “Genesis” ringing…life from lifelessness, lifelessness from life.

But it raises an allegorical point. Vulcan was the epicentre of where the Federation was birthed. A zealot not tied to any group officially lost something and took revenge by blowing up Vulcan (are you seeing terrorist parallels in our world?)…and how easy it would be to move to escalation instead of focusing on the need for a measured response while continuing to build relations. Even by bringing out a darker tone, as the story is being birthed in the world of uncertainty (more precarious than I would say the Cold War world, and post-Cold War world that birthed the original shows and spin-offs)…but still trying to bring hope to the front.

How is hope brought forward?

Through guidance of the elders to the core values of each character. That even if it appears everything may be different, choices can still be made to create a community of belonging.

The question the movie raises is whether Kirk and company this time will let the inclusion principles of the Federation win out, or succumb to the darkness being spread by Nero?

Are you Spock or Nero? Or Spock? Each decision creates a point in time of change.

What is your choice?