Strong person of color character

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Sulu and Uhura are both strong non-white characters in Star Trek.

A strong non-white character is simply a character in fiction or a person in non-fiction who is not ethnically white and is presented as an individual character with their own goals making them important to the work in a beneficial way. Despite the fact that white people only make up around 58% of the population of the USA, they account for the vast majority of characters or people in published media, and, when people of color do show up, they're usually an ancillary character or villain, not a protagonist, and they're often depicted in a stereotypical manner (or played by a white actor). A similar exclusion of non-white characters exists in most other Western cultures as well. This lack of representation shows an underlying problem with all Western media industries. Because of this, the very fact that a work of media even has a non-white character is worth noting, but having a strong non-white character is rare enough to be striking. In recent years, there has been an increase of strong non-white characters, but they're still represented far less frequently than their population percentage would suggest.


The bulk of the media I experienced as a child was almost exclusively white. I think the only show I watched in childhood which had a diverse cast was Sesame Street. Looking back at my lists of favorite movies, TV shows, books, video games, etc., the vast majority of them feature only white main characters with the occasional token non-white person. Later in life, when I began learning about the importance of representation in the media, it became more important for me to purposely expose myself to media with strong non-white characters and keep track of which media has them.


These are works which are important to me that feature a strong non-white character. For a complete list, see the category.

Title Released Media Notes
Big Trouble in Little China 1986-07-02 Film Most of the Asian characters are strong, many are successful business owners. Wang Chi seeks to rescue his bride, Egg Shen wants to finally defeat his adversary Lo Pan, and Lo Pan strives for more power.
Borderlands 2009-10-20 Video game Roland, one of the main playable characters, is black.
Costume Quest 2010-10-10 Video game Two members of the main party are non-white: Everett is black and Lucy is Asian.
Cryptonomicon 1999-05-?? Novel Goto Dengo, a main character in the story, is Japanese.
Daria 1997-03-03 TV Series Jodie Landon and Michael Mackenzie are both pretty strong and, in multiple episodes, address racial inequality.
Diablo 1996-12-31 Video game The sorcerer class is black, the monk from the Hellfire expansion is Asian.
Futurama 1999-03-28 TV series Amy Wong and Hermes Conrad are both non-white characters who see growth throughout the series.
The Goonies 1985-06-07 Film The character Data, who is Chinese, is very helpful to the group and often rescues himself and his friends.
Half-Life series 2004-11-16 Video game Alyx Vance, the second most important character in the series, is half-black, and her father Dr. Eli Vance is black.
The I.T. Crowd 2006-02-03 TV series Although his race doesn't come up in the show, the character Maurice Moss is played by Richard Ayoade who is half Nigerian.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 1984-05-08 Film Despite being racially insensitive, Short Round and Mola Ram are pretty strong characters, and there are a dozen other non-white important side characters.
Left 4 Dead series 2008-11-18 Video game Louis, Coach, and Rochelle are all playable black characters.
Memoirs of a Geisha 1997-09-27 Novel It's set in Japan, so nearly all of the characters are Japanese.
Neverwhere 1996-09-16 Novel The Marquis de Carabas and Hunter are both strong non-white characters.
The Office 2005-03-24 TV series Stanley Hudson, Oscar Martinez, Kelly Kapoor, and Darryl Philbin are all non-white, and important to the ensemble.
Princess Mononoke 1997-07-12 Film As it takes place in feudal Japan, all of the characters are Japanese
Rent 1996-01-26 Musical Tom Collins, Angel Dumott Schunard, Mimi Márquez, Joanne Jefferson, and Benjamin Coffin III are non-white and all strong.
Snow Crash 1992-06-?? Novel Hiro Protagonist, the hero and protagonist, is half-black, half-Japanese.
Spirited Away 2001-07-20 Film Taking place in Japan, all of the human characters are non-white.
Star Trek 1966-09-08 TV series Lieutenant Uhura is black, helmsman Sulu is Japanese, both are strong characters.
Star Trek: The Next Generation 1987-09-28 TV series Jordi LaForge ends up becoming the chief of engineering in season two and remains strong for the rest of the series. Worf and Guinan, though not human, are strong characters played by a black actors.
Star Wars series 1977-05-25 Film Lando is a strong character in the second and third films.