February 2021: A Note from Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher, BeInkandesent Health & Wellness magazine — What a pleasure it is to have the opportunity to focus on Black History Month by interviewing some of the most amazing leaders in the African American community. I am privileged to work with Tony Farmer, host of our Black Lives Matter Radio Show. As a diversity and inclusion expert, and life coach, Tony has not only has taught me a ton about what it’s like to live in his skin and have his life experiences — but constantly challenges me and our audience to go deeper and understand more.
This month we bring you several interviews from our Black Lives Matter Radio and TV Show:
- In the sidebar articles: You’ll meet some of the 20 people we interviewed since launching Black Lives Matter Radio last fall.
- In the video above: You’ll meet Dr. Towanna Burrous — the President of CoachDiversity Institute — our Feb. 21 guest. A best-selling author, trainer, and an ICF professional certified coach (PCC) based in Washington, DC, Towanna is a sought-after executive coach on a mission to empower diverse communities.
- Click here to meet our Feb. 14 interviewee — Dr. Billy Vaughn, senior director of the Diversity Executive Leadership Academy. A longtime mentor of Tony’s, and a man he refers to as the godfather of the diversity and inclusion movement, we know you will enjoy hearing their conversation on Black Lives Matter TV.
It is not just one month that we want to honor people of color. Tony has brought into the Inkandescent family dozens of men and women we otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to know, honor, and feature. We hope that moving forward; we no longer see people for what they look like on the outside — but for who they are: mind, body, spirit, and soul. We are all heart.
Thank you, Tony Farmer, for being the shining light that you are. And for sharing your wisdom and brilliance with all of us. We look forward to continuing the conversations for the foreseeable future! — Hope Katz Gibbs, founder, Inkandescent™ Inc.
The Power of Story
I have been a Star Trek aficionado for as long as I can remember. I was introduced to the show by my father, who was a huge fan.
I can still recall the intro:
“Space, the final frontier
These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise.
Its five-year mission
To explore strange new worlds.
To seek out a new life.
And new civilizations
To boldly go where no man has gone before.”
I was just in elementary school and did not understand the impact of the show on our society.
My focus was not on Gene Roddenberry’s intentionality in creating a cast and crew that was multi-racial and multi-ethnic. I was excited to see what new adventure the Enterprise was going to introduce me to. Who was Captain Kirk going to be fighting or wooing or negotiating with? What foolhardy decision was Spock going to have to talk everyone out of? What was Dr. Bones McCoy going to be fussing about? His famous quotes about being a Doctor and not an engineer or a science officer or not a helmsman but a Doctor.
As I ponder the original series now from the perspective of my 53-year-old self, I have a better understanding of how this television show has shaped how we look at the future and the possibilities for our present. In 1976 NASA named its first Space Shuttle “Enterprise.” Early versions of the mobile phones, also called flip phones, bore a remarkable resemblance to the original series’s communicators. Every time I see a commercial where people talk into the air and their devices activate, I think about how that characters on the show would speak to the computers, and the systems would react to their commands.
I also see the social relevance of the show and its impact on how I view the world. Although the original cast was predominantly white, some nuances stand out to me.
- The helmsman, the person who drove the ship, was a Japanese American. This is not a historical essay; however, needless to say, there was a time when America and Japan were on the opposite sides of a world war.
- The communications officer was a Black woman, Lt. Nyota Uhura. Whenever the Enterprise encountered a new species, friend or enemy, the first command was to establish communication.
What spoke to me then, and impresses me still, is that a person who looked like my Mom, my aunts, my cousins were on a Starship creating a dialogue with aliens — with phenomenal proficiency. How wonderful is that!
There are several important points to be made here.
- First, the initial episode of Star Trek was filmed in 1965, the same year that the Voting Rights Amendment was passed, allowing African Americans to vote passed.
- Second, on the show, Uhura was a Black female military officer. My father was a career soldier. I grew up on Army bases and didn’t meet a Black military officer until I visited my wife’s parents for the first time. You see, my father-in-law was a retired Lt. Colonel. I was so impressed and respectful of his accomplishments that I never called him by his first name. I never called him Dad. I referred to him as Colonel.
- Lastly, I’ve never heard anyone question the inclusive elements of the show. You either love Star Trek, or you don’t; you accept them into the history and lore of the sci-fi landscape or not. This much is true; none are more diverse and inclusive than Star Trek of all the science fiction franchises.
What’s more: I find it fascinating that one of the most recognizable voices in film history is Darth Vader of Star Wars. Every on-screen actor playing Darth Vader has featured white actors. However, the Empire’s Jedi Master’s iconic voice belongs to the legendary stage and screen actor James Earl Jones.
As the Star Trek franchise has grown over the years, I have remained a loyal fan. I’ve watched all of the Star Trek movies, series, and spin-offs. I am happy to report that the Star Trek Universe has become increasingly vast, diverse, and inclusive.
During Black History Month, I honor those who have represented the Black Community and Star Fleet command with dignity and honor:
- Nichelle Nichols – Lt. Nyota Uhura
- Tyler Perry – Admiral Richard Barnett
- Levar Burton – Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge
- Avery Brooks – Captain Benjamin Sisko
- Michael Dorn – Lt. Commander Worf
Photo of Star Trek cast, Sept. 17, 1976 (creative commons Wikimedia): The Space Shuttle Enterprise rolled out of the Palmdale manufacturing facilities with Star Trek television cast and crew members. From left to right, the following are pictured: DeForest Kelley, who portrayed Dr. “Bones” McCoy on the series; George Takei (Mr. Sulu); James Doohan (Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott); Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura); Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock); series creator Gene Roddenberry; NASA Deputy Administrator George Low; and, Walter Koenig (Ensign Pavel Chekov).