First I have to ask racist HG fans who do I have the permission to play? As an actor who also writes sci-fi I have to ask: If I can't play a black character who can I play without you getting pissed off? For years white people have played everything from Native Americans, Asians and even African Americans. So here we are in 2012 and people are shocked they allow such atrocities as allowing black actors to play dark skinned people.
I have to point out the connection of racism and illiteracy by the way. Either you can't read, or was it that you figured characters who are specifically described as having dark skin can't exist in Sci-Fi so the writer had to mean tan white person versus possible actual dark skinned people. Either way it's still racist or at least prejudice. I will take this moment to chuckle as there seems to be some controvesy about a person on Twitter named @LovelyPlease who some have accused of changing her photo from that of two white girls (I'm assuming her and a friend) to a random black girl after posting “Naturally Thresh would be a black man” and getting heat about it.
First let me point something out, Sci-Fi/Fantasy audiences have some deep rooted racism and I don't know why it runs so deep in those particular genres. Maybe because in fantasy land some people felt they could get away from blacks and people of other color. Even in the writing of great Sci-Fi works such as "Y The Last Man" comic book series (now a collection of graphic novels), where the writers went through everything possible to make sure the "Last Man" would be white and would be the only one to repopulate the earth with a white woman. The possibilities of even a mixed child is carefully eradicated. It's no accident. Either this is the writer's commentary or the editors knew their audience.
And let's remember the controversy over the Captain Kirk and Uhura kiss. Ironically white dudes had been lusting after black women since slavery, so a white man kisses a black woman on television and suddenly it's shocking! Really? Seriously? Some white people acted like it was impossible for something like that to even occur. The reality was some truth was shown and truth rubs people the wrong way.
Another issue was the Martha Jones (played by Freema Agyeman), who was the first black Dr. Who companion and one of the hotter ones I might add. The fact the production company pointed out she was black was the first mistake as everyone could see she was. But they set the stage for her being the affirmative action Dr. Who companion.
We can all talk about perception. When reading fiction we bring a lot of ourselves to it. In my first book Blackrayne, I had a female character who was Christian and also an artist. She had painted a photo with people burning in a lake of fire. To this a reviewer protested saying the painting was about gays burning in Hell. I actually thought I was crazy, but just to be sure, I reread the passage. It was about a painting about Christian hypocrisy and gays nor homosexuality were mentioned. How she got anything about gays from it was almost impossible. But that is how perception works. But what we bring to it also says something about us.
The idea one would totally ignore the physically description of a character and simply make that character look how they'd want them to look isn't impossible, but it does become both funny and sad, particularly in this case where people were so adamant to the point of hate or emotional hurt. Then again the reviewer was adamant about what she read in my book too. To this day she's never edited her initial review even though I publicly proved her wrong by posting the actual text. Those on her side even voted my comments down so people wouldn't read them.
But are you a racist when you perceive black characters to be white because you can't stand the thought of them being black? Yes. That's what racism is. It's ingrained. Not just the fact you overlooked the physical description, but had such a strong reaction to it because suddenly your perception was changed, but YOU were the one who was wrong. I'm willing to bet these same people still, in some way, believe they're right and people are just picking on them. Or maybe even that the author should never have written about black characters.
And when white Sci-Fi authors are asked why they don't include black characters, the go to answer is "I don't know any black people." These authors don't know any vampires either, but that never stopped one author from putting pen to pad (or fingers to keys). The real answer is "I'm white and don't really think/care about black folks," or simply, "I know some in my audience don't like black folks".
And the Sci-Fi audience is unabashed and very vocal about their racism a times. The reason it was so shocking this time is because the actual characters in question where indeed described as dark skinned, if not for that, these people would believe they have a point in their belief all Sci-Fi characters should be white. I do understand the perception is internal, white folks all over America saw themselves in these characters and suddenly found out, nope it's not you. It's LaTonya down the street.
I wish Edward from Twighlight were black. The series probably would've never made it to theaters and we would've been spared twinkling emo vampires, but I digress.