May the Fourth be with you…

As a child, I was fascinated by Star Wars, and by Darth Vader in particular. I dressed as Vader for Halloween on a couple of occasions, I played with my Ewok Village and Luke Skywalker action figures incessantly and I just knew I was cool when I rocked my hair parted down the middle with a bun on either side of my head. In spite of the fact that the franchise has had only sparse representation of people of color, the films engaged and entertained me, as true fantasy knows no race or ethnicity.

Let’s take a moment though, to celebrate a couple of the brown faces that did appear in Star Wars films. First and foremost, that smooth talking Baron of Cloud City, Lando Calrissian.
You never quite knew if Lando would sell you out or save you. When he kissed your girl’s hand, you never knew if he was being a gentleman, or if he was trying to make moves. His continuous displays of Cassanova-esque charm and charisma is part of what makes the casting of Billy Dee Williams so classic and appropriate. At the end of the day, Calrissian managed to strike a balance between business and activism, a position more men might strive toward.

Next up, Mace Windu, O.G. Jedi.
Unlike with Billy Dee Williams’ iconic portrayal of Lando Calrissian, the second wave of the Star Wars franchise did not make full use of Samuel L. Jackson’s abilities as a character actor.  Jackson is well known for playing a bad mother-shutyomouth. Casting him as a Jedi master was an incredible opportunity to bring some serious pimp game to the force. Alas, his talents were mostly wasted, but it was still cool to see a Black man master the ways of the force.

Let’s hope that the future brings fantasy flics that are more representative of the diversity of our world (I see you Star Trek and Matrix). In the meantime, I will meditate on the words of Yoda, whose advice transcends color, ethnicity and planetary origin:

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is.”
“Named must your fear be before banish it you can.”
 “Wars not make one great.”
"Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose."
 “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”
 “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter!”

Happy NerdFest 2011, AKA Star Wars Day.

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