My first introduction to science fiction & fantasy came from the library and Star Wars. During my childhood, whole Saturdays were spent at the library. One day, I ventured over to the adult section (seriously, they had their own room) and peeped their VHS collection. I flipped through and saw Star Wars. I wasn't familiar with it so I rented all three movies. I consumed them in one day. In one sitting.
My love of scifi would have ended right there.
Then my mom introduced me to Star Trek universe, Commander-then-Captain Benjamin Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Seeing a black person in space and in charge was mind-boggling. Someone who has the same skin tone as me in space. From there, my mom introduced me to The Original Series and the lovely Lieutenant Uhura. My world was shaken. These were my people. To this day, I ride for Star Trek all day. Every day.
Rather than pontificate, I want to provide a list of the black characters that got me hooked on shows that, frankly, I wouldn't have watched otherwise. It was seeing black faces, black women especially, that gave me a glimpse of black people in science fiction & fantasy.
Storm from X-Men
Storm could fly. She was wise. She could control the motherfucking weather! I got hooked on to her because of the cartoon show but then quickly branched out into the comic books. I even had the four limited edition Storm comic books (before my dad threw them away). She was the reason I even got into comic books. At least twice a month, I would hit up the comic book store in the mall to buy whatever X-Men comic book I could get.
Aisha from The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers
Aisha was my girl. She was a badass and rocked those braids like the queen that she was. Admittedly, I was in to the Yellow Ranger with Trini (RIP __) but I kept up with the show when they introduced Aisha. I even went and saw the movie when it came out. And real talk, can't NOBODY tell me that Aisha and Zack (the Black Ranger) didn't have a thing going on.
Vanessa from Space Above and Beyond
Vanessa was smart with a little dash of shyness. I could relate to her because I was her minus the degree in nuclear physics and petite frame. I was known as the smart kid in class but also the one that was occasionally overlooked. I would have loved to see a romantic relationship develop for Vanessa during the show but alas that didn't happen.
Gina Torres in pretty much everything (Firefly, Hercules: The Legendary Adventures, Cleopatra 2525)
I mean, have you seen Gina Torres? Have you seen her act? What is not to love. She stays playing the badass. What made her such a stand out for me, in Firefly and Hercules, is that she was a woman in love. She was cherished. She was coveted by one man. Just seeing a black woman in a relationship nourished my spirit.
Kendra Young from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I watched Buffy but I didn't really sit up and pay attention until Kendra was introduced as a slayer. It still bugs the hell out of me that she got taken out so quickly on the show. She really could have been something. *shakes fist at Joss Whedon*
Martha Jones from Doctor Who
*sigh* I'm happy and not happy about Martha Jones. First, she exposed me to the wonderful universe of Doctor Who which, to be honest, was barely a blip on my radar. Second, she was the rebound for the Doctor after he lost Rose. Rather than be the brilliant M.D. that she was her love for the Doctor was a one-sided affair. If I saw that open mouthed lip quiver one more time, I was ready to go off.
Bill Potts from Doctor Who
Bill reinvigorated my love of the Whoverse after the Clara years. I'm not #TeamClara so there was a significant wane in my Doctor Who interest. When I found out that Bill would be queer and black, I was there for it. Bill was quirky and loved her deceased mom dearly. These were things I could relate to.
Raquel from Crazyheads
First, how can you not love Susan Wokomoa? Seriously. I was browsing on Netflix for something to watch and came across this show. I ended up watching it one sitting. I literally stopped everything I was doing that Saturday to watch all the episodes. Raquel was vulnerable, powerful, offbeat, and sarcastic.
Naomi from The Expanse
I started watching for Naomi and stayed Krisjen (my girl), the amazing story, and production value. My love of Naomi ebbed and flowed but its due in part because she is presented as a flawed individual. I may not always agree with her decisions but she is 100% the reason I even gave this show a chance.
I'm sure I'm leaving others off the list but as you can see my love of science fiction is rooted in blackness, specifically black women.