Rappers like MF Doom, the Wu-Tang Clan and hip-hop group Jedi Mind Trick aren’t shy about the occasional reference to the Force in their albums. Gnarls Barkley even donned Star Wars costumes for their performance of “Crazy” at the 2006 MTV Movie Awards. Aaron McGruder—the man behind the nationally syndicated comic strip “The Boondocks” and the TV show by the same name—has become a true poster boy of black fandom.
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.