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The Case for Black With a Capital B

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Science Fiction in Black and White

The release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens sparked a lot of controversy for casting a Black man, British actor John Boyega, in a leading role as a Storm Trooper. In the world of science fiction, fantasy, and comic-based films, this is not the first time such a casting sparked outrage from fans. The casting of Idris Elba as Heimdall in Thor, Amandla Stenberg as Rue in the Hunger Games, and Michael B. Jordan as The Human Torch in Fantastic Four are other examples of pivotal characters portrayed by Black actors. In these films, fans called for boycotts of the films due to the race of the actors.

In the world of science fiction where characters are human, alien, droid, and more, why is a Black character so controversial? Nettrice Gaskins, Ph.D, director of Boston Arts Academy’s STEAM Lab and researcher of cultural paradigms in Afrofuturism, Science Fiction and Fantasy discusses with Basic Black the reasons for such a backlash from fans of science fiction, and the Hollywood typecasting of ethnic groups in science-fiction films.