19

Star Trek has always been at the forefront of ethnic and cultural diversity. In TOS, we had a Russian, a Japanese-American, a Scot(t), Americans, etc. which was groundbreaking for the time. In the TNG era, we had French, Japanese, (black) American, Native American, etc.

But the most unbelievable thing about this (especially for 400 years in the future) is that they all seem to be mono-ethnic. This seems pretty dated even by today's standards just 20-30 years later, let alone 20 more generations.

As far as I can recall, all the multi-ethnic characters seem to be hybrids between humans and aliens. And the only other exception I can recall would be the children of Keiko and O'Brien, which is more of a development than a starting point.

Have we ever encountered a notably multi-ethnic character? As in, a character just happens to note that they have genetic ancestry from more than one area of the Earth?

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    Do we know that any of the 'ethnic' characters actually have pure ethicity, as opposed to that being the ethnicity they identify with? For example Picard may identify as French, but he probably also has ancestors of other ethnicities. – DJClayworth Jun 5 at 18:51
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    Everyone, except perhaps a few people with pure African ancestry, has “genetic ancestry from more than one area of the Earth”. We all have African ancestors. – Mike Scott Jun 5 at 19:42
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    @MikeScott: Yes, yes, everyone knows that the concept of race is poorly defined and possibly doesn't really exist at all from a biological perspective. It doesn't means that in the context of casting a TV show it wouldn't be notably different to have a character state they are 1/4 Asian, 1/4 black, and 1/2 aborigine versus the unrealistic mess we are given here. And speaking to your specific example, everyone originating from Africa 200k years ago is different than where someone's family originated from 1000 years ago. – ThePopMachine Jun 5 at 20:09
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    We don't know that everyone is actually from Earth, though. Some people could have been born on star ships or stations. They aren't Earthlings, but they're still human. And I guess I assumed that they stopped focusing on ethnic differences once they figured out space travel and met actual aliens. – user70848 Jun 6 at 3:26
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    You mention Japanese-American in your question. How isn't that multiethnic? Could you explain what you mean by the term a bit better if Japanese-American doesn't fit the bill? Or does Japanese-American mean someone of Japanese descent who was raised in the US for you? – terdon Jun 6 at 16:13
43

Hikaru Sulu was part Japanese, part Filipino. This was probably not the original intention for the character, but it was included as part of Sulu's characterization later on, when it was realized that "Sulu" was a distinctly Filipino name. This is made explicit in the novelization of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

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    The original intention was for Sulu to be representative of all of Asia; Roddenberry saw the Sulu Sea on a map and possibly mistook its extents. Japanese-Filipino would actually be a narrowing of the character's originally intended ethnicity rather than an expansion! en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hikaru_Sulu#Development_and_portrayals – Russell Borogove Jun 6 at 16:50
  • There was this deleted scene too. But I don't have a good reference. – Joshua Jun 6 at 18:14
  • @Joshua You seem to be missing a link. – Hashim Jun 6 at 23:05
39

Doctor Bashir

Doctor Bashir has an Arabic surname, and he claims to have an ancestor with an Anglo-Saxon surname:

BASHIR: Watley? That was my great grandmother's name.

"Trials and Tribble-ations" transcript (DS9 5x06)

It's possible that Bashir is merely joking (about Lieutenant Watley flirting with him) to make O'Brien uncomfortable. Bashir goes on to say:

BASHIR: No one ever met my great grandfather. This could be a predestination paradox. Come on, Chief, surely you took elementary temporal mechanics at the Academy? I could be destined to fall in love with that woman and become my own great grandfather.

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    Regardless of whether Bashir was joking, I'm quite certain the writer was having a bit of a laugh. – Kevin Jun 6 at 4:44
  • @Kevin — Absolutely. And as for Bashir, I think he'd be even more likely to want to turn it into a joke if Lieutenant Watley really was his great-grandmother. – Gaultheria Jun 6 at 4:49
33

There was a multi-ethnic character as far back as the original pilot. José Tyler, the navigator on Pike's enterprise, was canonically half American and half Brazilian. Warning: ethnic stereotypes quoted below (source: The Making of Star Trek, via Memory Alpha)

The Navigator. José (Joe) Tyler, Boston astronomer father and Brazilian mother, is boyishly handsome, still very much in the process of maturing. An unusual combination, he has inherited his father's mathematical ability. José Tyler, in fact, is a phenomenally brilliant mathematician and space theorist. But he has also inherited his mother's Latin temperament, fights a perpetual and highly personalized battle with his instruments and calculators, suspecting that space – and probably God, too – are engaged in a giant conspiracy to make his professional and personal life as difficult and uncomfortable as possible. Joe (or José, depending on the other party) is young enough to be painfully aware of the historical repute of Latins as lovers – and is in danger of failing this challenge on a cosmic scale.

17

Molly O'Brien is half Japanese, Half Irish.

Geordi LaForge has a white sister.

Captain Picard has a French heritage, but an epic English accent.

Kahn is white and blond, but the name is Asian/Indian.

A character's ethnicity is not important. Just like Picard is bald, and in the 24th century they don't care about baldness.

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    "in the 24th century they don't care about baldness" - do they care about baldness now? To the extent that someone might be discriminated against attaining a high military position due to being bald? That part doesn't seem especially futuristic. – Rand al'Thor Jun 6 at 13:24
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    If by Kahn you mean Khan Noonien Singh — he wasn't blond, but grey-haired, and not exactly white either. Also, he was artificially engineered, so may not be of any pre-existing ethnicity altogether. – user28434 Jun 6 at 13:24
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    Khan blond?! He's grey in the film, granted, but not remotely blond. – T.J. Crowder Jun 6 at 13:59
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    I don't get what you're trying to get at. The final sentence isn't addressing the question. The context of what the writers do matters. Also, where's the evidence that Geordi has a white sister? – ThePopMachine Jun 6 at 16:13
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    @ThePopMachine its in a few episodes. The one where Geordi turns into an alien is one of them. The final sentence does address the question: Earth is an almost culturally homogenous society. The charachter's races are not important at all - to each other, or to the show's audience. Go back 400 years in your own family history - which nations and states did your ancestors come from. How many are still around? How many are now considered to be a homogenous group? For example, my Irish, Scottish and British ancestors are now all "white". – user101904 Jun 6 at 16:20
0

That episode of TNG (Up The Long Ladder) where they had the space Irish (Bringlodi). The Space Irish and the Posh Clone society (Mariposans) were humans but they had developed different cultures after hundreds of years apart. The Posh Clone people were clones of five surviving colonists, of a mixture of ethnicities.

At the end of the episode, the Space Irish moved to the Posh Clone planet to interbreed and provide genetic diversity. The children of these two camps would have parents of different ethnicities within the same species.

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    We don't actually see any of their offspring. For all we know, they all killed each other within a year or two – Valorum Jun 5 at 18:50
  • The OP specifically asks for multi-ethnic characters from Earth. Even if they have kids, they would not be from Earth. – trlkly Jun 7 at 9:59

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