First of a series of articles on Blacks in Science Fiction Part One: Movies
By Prof. William H. Foster February 9, 2012
“I don’t like movies what don’t have no ni**ers in them. I went to see a movie of the future called “Logan’s Run”…
Ain’t no ni**ers in it. Well, white folks ain’t planning for us to be here.”
Richard Pryor from Bicentennial Ni**er, 1976
Today is the perfect time to review the appearance of people of color (POC) in science fiction films. As those older geeks among us know, it certainly seemed that no matter what the medium was back in the day (films, television or literature) we encountered people like ourselves far too few times. That’s what makes the above quote by Richard Pryor so appropriate.
I always couched the issue this way; back in the 1960s there were two very popular animated cartoon series that aired on television in prime adult viewing slots. I am referring of course to the Flintstones, and the Jetsons. One was about the distant past, and one is about the distant future – and we (Black folks) weren’t in either series. The feelings by those in power on Black People seemed pretty clear to me.
That being said, here’s a look back at the sci-fi films of the past to show how people of color (POC) faired. In the interest of brevity I did not include every single film that featured a person of color. I have also not given a complete listing of current films that feature one or more of us. Instead I have chosen to highlight a few classic historical movies. My interpretation of the term “science fiction” is certainly open to interpretation. It can include, fantasy, time-travel theme, futuristic, sword and sorcery – you name it.
Consider this a short guide to your late night TV viewing. Some of the films listed do occasionally show up and you’ll want to set your DVR – trust me. If I haven’t included one of your favorites, write to Blackscifi.com and share.