How To Be A Star Wars fan As A Black Girl Nerd
By: Dr. Gina Moore-Sanders
[This post originally appeared on one of our favorite geeky blogs, Black Girl Nerds. Be sure to check them out and subscribe!]
Star Wars is my first fandom and I LOVE IT! The number of Black girls and women at Star Wars conventions are miniscule compared to that in other fandoms. It is because Star Wars lacks women of color as lead characters in novels, comic books, TV shows and movies. The lack of representation should not deter fandom, in spite of the paucity of lead characters that are women of color in Star Wars.
Let’s review the lead women of color characters in Star Wars. I hope to discuss other characters of color in the Star Wars literature, but for now, I want everyone to be on the same page and keep their eyes out for these lead characters. I will discuss: SABINE WREN and RAE SLOANE, two new characters in the STAR WARS REBELS television show set to air at 9PM on Disney XD, October 13, 2014.
Sabine Wren is a Mandalorian, explosive expert and graffiti artist. The voice actor is Tiya Sircar. The character is 16 years old and has found her way to the planet, Lothal. She is a Rebel.
She is agile, lithe and fun. She seems strong despite her life’s circumstances. It is unknown who her parents are, but they are not any of the known leads. She is not the daughter of Bo-Katan, Duchess Satine Kryze, or Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
The Star Wars Story Group created Sabine Wren. They decided to have her appear to be of “Southeast Indian” descent. Of course, real life ethnic groups are not a part of the fictional Star Wars universe. But as a matter of representation, I feel Sabine having a “Southeast Indian” background a beautiful concept. Then they made her a Mandalorian, which is a strong fictional culture in Star Wars. She is also an artist, and what is interesting is Mandos and art often do not go hand-in-hand. I think this creates a very provocative and exciting lead character to build interesting stories in the Star Wars Rebels timeline, which is set 5 years before Star Wars: A New Hope.
Sabine’s key signature colors are orange and fuchsia. She uses explosives and carries two Westar-35 guns, much like Boba Fett’s. She also has a helmet with the full “heads up display” or HUD and knows how to use it. The fact that she uses this equipment with ease says that she was taught since birth how to be a Mandalorian, which means one of her parents (if not both) must be full Mandalorian who raised her to fight. As fans, we may learn more about why she became an artist but at this time, it is unknown.
But I can speculate: her artistry was encouraged by her parents, as she was reared in a relatively peaceful environment and high regard for her Mandalorian culture. Then the Galactic Empire arrived and destroyed her life. She fought back in the only way she knew how – through visual protest or graffiti art.
It will be exciting to see the presence and beauty of Sabine Wren in Star Wars Rebels this Fall.
Rae Sloane is an Imperial Captain with her own Star Destroyer, theUltimatum. She would be approximately 35 years old in Star Wars Rebels, but it is unknown if she will be seen in the TV show. She is only described in the new book, Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller. She is a “new Imperial” who has been totally raised under the Galactic Empire at the Imperial Academies. Basically, she wears the green khaki uniforms like most of the guys who sit around the table on the Death Star, similar to Captain Needa who gets Force choked by Darth Vader.
Only one image is available which is black and white concept art and her appearance is described at the beginning of the book: “Tall, muscular and dark-skinned”. In the concept art, she appears to have microbraids, pulled back underneath her Imperial cap and put into a bun. In real life, the United States Army does not allow braids. What I find insufferable as a Black woman Star Wars fan is to see some fans become extremely critical of her description. Much like this screenshot:
It is unknown if the production team will include Rae Sloane into the Star Wars Rebels TV show, but it will be awesome if they do. It will give many Black Nerd Girls a palatable opportunity to identify and develop an initial cosplay character. In roleplay (RP), it will give some girls a character to enjoy. But that depends on how strong her character is. If she is Olivia Pope strong, then it’s a piece of cake. If she is not strong, it will be disheartening because it will be like another stereotype of placating and deference to the cis-het White male power structure.
However, she is not written that way. She is written as very intelligent and rather subdued in her “military demeanor”. She is not written as arrogant, or as fearful of arrogant Imperials. She defers to the Emperor, and believes in him wholeheartedly. She is quiet until she must speak and when she does, it shows her true power. Moreover, in the audiobook her voice is spoken with an “English accent,” not an American one. If the Star Wars Story Group and production team brings her to screen, which I hope they do, the voice actor to portray her will be truly interesting. A speculation would be a former Black English pop star, or if they choose a Black English actor, as speculated in “Star Wars Episode VII” movie.
Raw Sloane must be in Star Wars Rebels. Black Girl Nerds need it. I need it. It is a false equivalency to equate this character to Star Trek’s Lieutenant Uhura. Rae Sloane won’t play fair as an Imperial, it’s kind of what they do as a character trait. However, we must fight for this character to get her on the show. We must defend her when she is attacked with the “N-word” which some Star Wars fans do. She needs to be in Star Wars Rebels.
Her SWAG 77 NAV Coordinates
Rae Sloane (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rae-Sloane/269388556448179 )
Twitter: @raesloane77 (http://www.twitter.com/raesloane77 )
In conclusion, both characters do not have the Force, but the Star Wars Rebels TV show is not about the Force, it is about how non-Force users rise up against an evil Galactic Empire. It is exciting to see Sabine and Rae in the canon of Star Wars.
Dr. Gina Moore-Sanders owns Ariafya LLC, and the Star Wars Actors Guild 77 (SWAG 77) social media entertainment and performance sites are a division. Star Wars is her first writing and performance venue, but she also administers the OLIVIA POPE fictional character page on Facebook. Lucasfilm gave SWAG 77 a fan table at Star Wars Celebration VI in 2012. While she has no spare time in business, Dr G- enjoys reading, writing, performing and often travels with her husband.