Strong person of color character

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The characters Sulu and Uhura are both strong people of color in Star Trek.

A strong person of color character is a character in fiction who is depicted as a person of color and is presented in the work as important and beneficial, typically by being an individual with their own goals that are not directly tied to their race. 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 in published media, and, when people of color do make an appearance, 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). This isn't just a problem in the USA, 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, and, because of this, the very fact that a work of media even has a POC character is worth noting, but a POC character who is also strong is rare enough to be striking. In recent years, there has been an increase of strong POC characters, but they're still represented far less frequently than their population percentage would suggest.

Personal

The bulk of the media I experienced as a child was almost exclusively white. I think the only show I watched in early childhood which had a diverse cast was Sesame Street. When I got a little older I watched shows like Family Matters, Different World, The Cosby Show, and 227, and I saw a handful of movies with a diverse cast. However, 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 person of color. 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 POC characters and keep track of which media has them.

Examples

These are works which are important to me that feature a strong person of color character. For a complete list, see: books: (with, without), films: (with, without), video games: (with, without).

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 Everett is black, Lucy is Asian, both are members of the party.
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 people of color 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 of side characters who are people of color.
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 people of color.
The Office 2005-03-24 TV series Stanley Hudson, Oscar Martinez, Kelly Kapoor, and Darryl Philbin are all people of color, 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 people of color 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 All of the human characters are Japanese.
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.

See Also

Links