Wednesday, July 27, 2011

MLK, Jr. on the Importance of Images

Getting back to my thoughts on MLK, Jr., Nichelle Nichols, and Star Trek, I want to look at King's words to Nichols from the link in the 7/21/11 post. In fact, in this post, I simply want to lay out the basics of the conversation and make a few comments on it.

MLK, Jr.: "You have one of the most wonderful roles. Images are so important. The manner in which you have created this character. We have great pride."
NN: "I'm going to miss my costars"
MLK, Jr.: "What are you talking about?"
NN: "I'm leaving the show."
MLK, Jr.: "You cannot do that."
NN: (I was dumbfounded.)
MLK, Jr.: "You have the first non-stereotypical role on television. For the first time the world sees us as we are supposed to be seen, as qualified, beautiful, intelligent people. And you are not a menial. You have to stay there."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. understood the importance of images, the things people see. He understood how American television in the Sixties portrayed the typical African-American and how important breaking from that visual was.
I read somewhere else that when Whoopi Goldberg first saw the character Uhura on television, she got excited and ran to tell her mother that there was a black woman on TV who wasn't a maid.
This was big stuff. And M.L. King Jr. understood it even if the magnitude of it was lost on Nichols in that day.
But we see from the interview in the link that Nichols gets it today.

Images are so important. And narrow or 'single story' images must be counteracted.
For example, the image of Sarah calling Abraham 'lord' must be counter balanced with the Old Testament story of God changing Sarah's name from Sarai to Sarah, which means female ruler and the image of God telling Abraham to obey Sarah at one point.
And the images of Deborah, Huldah, the Proverbs 31 woman, Junia, the Chosen Lady that John writes about, and many others must be held up in contrast to the images that are pushed by CBMW and Neo-patriarchy.

Images are important. And as a mother of both sons and daughters, I understand the need to provide better images than what CBMW influenced churches want children to see.