Ending 'The Clone Wars'

A black Star Wars junkie searches for diversity in a galaxy far, far away.

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Psycho Star Wars Guy, a recurring character in "The Boondocks" comic strip, once drove another character named Riley to ask, "Are black folks ever this crazy about anything?"

 

Despite the way we sometimes pigeonhole each other, the answer should be obvious. Yes, sometimes we are.

 

But stereotypes weren't the only thing discouraging black folk from joining the ranks of Star Wars aficionados when I was a kid. The cast of the original Star Wars films wasn't exactly abounding in racial diversity. Unless you count the booming voice of Darth Vader, which was provided by James Earl Jones, the only black character fans could find in the whole trilogy was Han Solo's old buddy, Lando Calrissian.

 

Billy Dee Williams' performance as a lovable rogue in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi thrilled me before I could read his name on the credits. I still remember how I felt when my older brother lost his Lando Calrissian action figure in the late '80s. The whole family grieved the loss of that toy; it was almost as if a pet had died.

 

As I got older, though, I became a little uncomfortable with some of the clichéd, blaxploitation-ish elements of the character. Even though he was the "administrator" of Cloud City, he was still a "gambler," a "card player" and a "scoundrel." And why did the one black character in the saga also have to be the one to betray his friend to the Empire? Plus, Williams' Colt 45 commercials linked Lando to malt liquor forever.