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Sonequa Martin-Green Responds To Racist Critics Of Star Trek: Discovery

Sonequa Martin-Green will be the first black woman to lead a Star Trek series, and the show's diverse cast has prompted an ugly outcry from a portion of racist fans online claiming "white genocide."

On the show, Martin-Green plays First Officer Michael Burnham at the center of the story, and her commanding officer is Captain Philippa Georgiou, played by Michelle Yeoh. The cast also includes the first openly gay character in the TV franchise, a science officer played by Anthony Rapp.

When Entertainment Weekly asked Martin-Green (who also played Sasha on The Walking Dead) what she would say to the internet haters, she offered up a thoughtful response.

"Well, I would encourage them to key into the essence and spirit of Star Trek that has made it the legacy it is—and that's looking across the way to the person sitting in front of you and realizing you are the same, that they are not separate from you, and we are all one," she said. "That's something Star Trek has always upheld, and I completely believe that is why it's been a mainstay in society in the hearts of so many people for so many decades. I would encourage them to look past their opinions and social conditioning and key into what we're doing here—which is telling a story about humanity that will hopefully bring us all together."

The original Star Trek series was groundbreaking in its progressive nature during the '60s. Not only did the show feature TV's first interracial kiss, the crew of the Enterprise included a Russian character (ensign Chekov played by Walter Koenig), a Japanese man (Lt. Sulu played by George Takei), and a black woman (Lt. Uhura played by Nichelle Nichols). Since then, the franchise has continued to hinge upon the concept of many different races and species working together. 

"It's hard to understand and appreciate Star Trek if you don't understand and appreciate that," Martin-Green said. "It's one of the foundational principles of Star Trek and I feel if you miss that, then you miss the legacy itself. I'm incredibly proud to be the lead of this show and be at the forefront of an iteration of Star Trek that's from the eyes of a black woman that's never been done before, though obviously there's been other forms of diversity that have been innovated by Trek. I feel like we're taking another step forward, which I think all stories should do. We should go boldly where nobody has gone before and stay true to that."

Star Trek: Discovery is set to begin its 13-episode run on Sept. 24, streaming on CBS All Access. Until then, take a look at some details in the first trailer that you might have missed.