O Captain, My Captain: A Look Back At Deep Space Nine’s Ben Sisko

By Guest Contributor Kendra James

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine  is like The West Wing. But in space. With a Black president. Kind of.

That’s normally how I find myself trying to describe the show to the uninitiated, as I firmly believe that it’s the Trek series you have to use when trying to get people into Trek canon, especially people of color. Deep Space Nine (DS9) causes a strange division in the world of Trekkies. I’ve always found (non-scientifically; I just spend a lot of time at cons) that people either love it or loathe it. Meanwhile, I can’t wait to show it to my kids.

DS9 has your aliens and spaceships, and characters do occasionally say things like “set phasers to stun,” but the Trek cheese-factor is more often than not outweighed by the political storyarcs covered over six out of the show’s seven seasons, its criticisms of 20th century history, race relations in America, and lead actor, Avery Brooks, who stars as Captain Benjamin Lafayette Sisko–the first and only African-American captain to lead a televised Star Trek franchise.

In both the original Star Trek series (TOS) and Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG), the existence of the United Federation Of Planets provided a perfect excuse to ignore (human) race and racism completely. The Trek franchise has always featured black actors and actresses, well developed Black characters, and TOS even featured the first televised interracial kiss in the episode “Plato’s Kiss.” Both shows dismissed racism on Earth as being as outdated as using money, instead highlighting racial politics between alien species rather than humans.

This model may have continued through DS9 had they hired any other actor to portray Captain Sisko. However, Brooks–a Shakespearean-trained actor, graduate of Oberlin College, and the first African-American to earn an MFA in acting and directing from Rutgers University, where he has also worked as a professor–brought much of himself to the role, and that included an emphasis in the importance of the African-American experience. Even nearly three hundred years in the future. Whether Trek fans were ready for it or not, DS9 brought the topic of race closer to home.

While I suspect that direct tone is one of the reasons DS9 isn’t as popular as its’ predecessors–along with the heavy emphasis on backroom politics instead of “seeking out bold new worlds”–if you didn’t like TNG chances are you’re going to love a show that goes out of its way in the first episode to distinguish Sisko from the already-established Captain Jean-Luc Picard. In the premiere we learn Picard (while under control of the alien species The Borg) had killed Sisko’s wife.

In a meeting between the two, Sisko speaks to Picard in a tone he’s likely never heard from a non-superior officer before, and Sisko’s dislike of the man–and the stationis made apparent. With that, Sisko distinguishes himself immediately in the DS9 pilot as one of the few people with the mettle to speak openly to Picard and to not simply fall under the spell of influence the captain was often written to command. While the scene was likely included to make the segue from TGN to DS9 as smooth as possible, Picard does not exist to emerge as the hero of the scene or to bring Sisko back in line, so to speak. Because Sisko is given his outrage, his choice to accept permanent assignment there later is that much more genuine.

The meeting also  introduces what would be one of the series’ most important subplots:  Sisko is a family man in a way that neither Picard or Kirk ever were. He’s a widower with an 11-year old son Jake  (Cirroc Lofton), a situation that was one of the reasons for resisting his assignment to the station.

In William Shatner’s documentary The Captains, Brooks said it was important to him to portray a black father on television that plays an positive role in his son’s life.

“I read the pilot, and said well, this is very interesting to me,” Brooks said. “A man dealing with loss, having to raise a child–indeed a male child–by himself, and be brown as we spin this tale in the 20th century about the 24th century.”

The depiction of the black father continued to be an important dynamic to Brooks through the show’s finale, like when he initially thought they were going to have Sisko abandon his son and unborn child. Upset by this decision he’s quoted as saying, “ The Producers told me, ‘Look we thought you’d be thrilled…The difference, of course, is you have Sisko with another child on the way. You still have Sisko with a young man [Jake Sisko] trying to find his way…That wasn’t fair.” [Shortened for Spoilers].

This view on “Parenting While Black” is unique in sci-fi fantasy television. More often than not in these shows, black parents die off or abandon their children early on in their lives, leaving them unhappy, lonely and hungry for revenge. Brooks’ efforts helped Lofton’s character largely avoid the fate of others like  Robin Wood and Kendra Young (Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Charles Gunn (Angel), Bonnie Bennett (The Vampire Diaries), and Walt Lloyd (Lost).

Even with an intergalactic war raging around them later in the series, Sisko is always there for Jake. They’re often shown having dinner together and Sisko is always eager to read over and help edit Jake’s stories and articles. He supports Jake’s decision to become a writer instead of going to the Starfleet Academy, even though that’s perhaps what he would have preferred. Episodes like “The Visitor” (guest starring Tony Todd as an older Jake Sisko) and “In the Cards” (where Jake tries to acquire a 1950s baseball card to cheer Sisko up during a stressful week) highlight the strength of the bond and loving relationship between father and son.

With a highly educated and vocal African American actor in the lead it’s no wonder you get get seven seasons of a series that takes his cultural experience to heart; Sisko is specifically written to acknowledge the implications that the color of his skin bring.

Not only are there references to Sisko’s New Orleans heritage, soul food, his love of baseball (particularly players Willie Mayes and Jackie Robinson) and bits of African art we see decorating his quarters, but we see him enter a relationship with an African-American woman, Kasidy Yates, enabling them–and the viewers–to discuss the cultural history of racism, of which Sisko is still acutely aware. In one episode his crew becomes infatuated with visiting “Vic’s,” a holosuite program set in a 1960s Las Vegas casino and lounge,  and Kasidy asks him why he doesn’t want to join his team’s Rat Pack cosplay.

Sisko: You want to know … you really want to know what my problem is? I’ll tell you: Las Vegas 1962, that’s my problem. In 1962, black people weren’t very welcome there. Oh sure, they could be performers or janitors, but customers? Never.
Kasidy: Maybe that’s the way it was in the real Vegas, but that is not the way it is at Vic’s. I have never felt uncomfortable there, and neither has Jake.
Sisko: But don’t you see? That’s the lie. In 1962, the civil rights movement was still in its infancy. It wasn’t an easy time for our people, and I’m not going to pretend that it was.
Kasidy: Baby–I know that Vic’s isn’t a totally accurate representation of the way things were, but… it isn’t meant to be. It shows us the way things could’ve been – the way they should’ve been.
Sisko: We cannot ignore the truth about the past.
Kasidy: Going to Vic’s isn’t going to make us forget who we are or where we came from. What it does is reminds us that we are no longer bound by any limitations–except the ones we impose on ourselves.

It’s a small scene in a 45-minute episode, but the fact that it’s acknowledged is important and more than you get from most genre shows. Sisko is initially displeased with his crew’s little Mad Men fantasy, and he’s allowed to express it, no matter how uncomfortable it might be for the viewer.

During season five, Brooks also tackled nostalgic racism from behind the camera, as director of the episode “Far Beyond The Stars,” which spends an entire 45 minutes dealing with race relations in mid 20th-century America. “Stars” reimagines Sisko as a science fiction writer named Benny Russell working for a racist and sexist New York magazine in the 1950s where racism is present, but more deceptive and innocent, casually rolling off the tongues of people Benny considers friends and colleagues. The magazine refuses to publish his stories about the character Benjamin Sisko, a black starship captain.

When Benny’s editor finally does agree to publish his stories he insists that the stories must be revealed to be the dreams (not the reality) of a poor Black man in their present time–because everyone knows the idea of a black sci-fi hero is that unrealistic. With that, the episode also reminds the viewer that despite the inclusive attitude the Trek franchise has embraced, science-fiction is still very much a white man’s world. For every Octavia Butler there are five Joss Whedons. More pointedly, for every one Captain Sisko, there’s a Captain Picard, Captain Kirk, Han Solo, John Carter, and … well, you get the picture. With Sisko in the lead, DS9 is self-aware and capable of criticising the flaws of its own genre, and that’s something to appreciate.

I’m struck by how much more I understand this show at the age of 24, compared to when I rewatched it at 17, and before that when I originally watched from 1993 to 1999. I was only 11 when the finale aired (and grounded for a good deal of the season, but that’s another issue entirely) and while I vaguely understood the significance of Sisko, I admit to taking his presence–the presence of a starring Black man–on my screen as normal. I like to think that Brooks would have appreciated that, knowing that part of his reasoning for accepting the role of Sisko was his belief that “brown children must be able to participate in contemporary mythology.”

In some ways the 1990s were better landscape for a kid of color to get into science fiction and fantasy. Not only did I have Sisko, there was Carl Lumbly as  M.A.N.T.I.S; Wesley Snipes was Blade; Spawn aired on HBO and was made into a film; Cleopatra 2525 starring Gina Torres debuted in 2000; my favorite book series, Animorphs, starred Black and Latino teens; and Will Smith was king of the summer sci-fi box office.

When one looks at the scope of white genre heroes this isn’t a large number in comparison but, because Sisko was always there, I didn’t feel as if I was lacking for anything. It never occurred to me that the physical and cultural representation I was seeing was unique not only within the Trek franchise, but on television in general. Because, let’s be real: It’s already been 12 years since DS9 ended, and sometimes it’s nice to watch Avery Brooks as Sisko and remember that, yes, we can do that, too.

  • Anonymous

     Thank you so much for this list.

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  • Elton

    “I courted and won the heart of the magnificent Jadzia Dax.”
    http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Time's_Orphan_(episode)

  • Anonymous

    Great article, and my exact sentiments about the show. I was glad to see a person of color actually take command in a Star Trek series (George Takei having been denied that chance) and Avery Brooks as Sisko was amazing. I also loved how his journey wasn’t the typical ‘hero conquers all and lives happily ever after’ jive, but a spiritual journey with the alien culture that he was descended from.  I would love to see a movie with these characters, but the reality is, it won’t happen (not even for Voyager and Enterprise.)

    I would love to see Avery come back to Toronto for a visit (preferably at this convention and not this one), if possible-I just want to see him and ask him questions about his career, and Sisko. Hopefully, that will happen sooner rather than later.

  • Kendra

    I was never too uncomfortable with Worf, though I can see the basis for how his passion could be read into the ‘Mandingo’ stereotype (I don’t know quite what category I’d put the more… violent and overt sexuality of the female klingons under). That said, I think it would have been more problematic if all Klingons were played by Black actors. 

    As for Dax, I love her! And I eventually would like to tackle a piece on (fluid) sexuality and gender roles on DS9.

  • Kendra

    I was never too uncomfortable with Worf, though I can see the basis for how his passion could be read into the ‘Mandingo’ stereotype (I don’t know quite what category I’d put the more… violent and overt sexuality of the female klingons under). That said, I think it would have been more problematic if all Klingons were played by Black actors. 

    As for Dax, I love her! And I eventually would like to tackle a piece on (fluid) sexuality and gender roles on DS9.

    • Tia J Smith1

      I’m a huge Star Trek fan, I’ve seen nearly every series (somehow I can’t bring myself to do Enterprise), but there are lot of problems with their portrayal of alien species that I as a person of color can’t really reconcile. 

      The fact is that post-TOS a majority of Klingons were played by Black actors, and if not played by Black actors, the actors were darkened using makeup so they would be noticeably dark-skinned. The Klingons are described as violent, overtly sexual, barbaric, and I assume you can add more words to this list.  
      And DS9 had the Jem’Hadar which were drug-addicted, warriors with no true family. In the one episode that featured a child Jem’Hadar the viewers see a black child.  I realize that not all of the actors for the race are Black, but it’s telling when that one episode uses a black actor. 
      Then there are the Ferengi who are also noticeably brown, who are known as essentially the thieves, misogynists and con artists of the galaxy. And a species found on Voyager, the Kazon, are a desert-dwelling species who are violent, thieves, and misogynists.  They are also dark-skinned (the desert-dwelling aspect doesn’t really count, Vulcan is a desert and their species comes in a variety of skintones) with (and these are not my words, but some in the fandom) “nappy hair.” 

      Star Trek rocks in a lot of ways, but when it associates negative stereotypes with commonly featured dark-skinned races.

      • Sara

        I don’t perceive the Ferengi as “noticeably brown”;  as I recall (and which seems to be confirmed by google images), they were basically Caucasian-complexioned.  (And the old ones are make-uped to be downright pasty.)   I always interpreted them as a critique of faux-american neoliberal capitalism.  If they’re an uncomfortable reflection of any ethnicity stereotype, I think it would be Jewish, though I don’t think there’s great support  for that. 

        I agree with your broader point, though, that Star Trek isn’t great with the Proud Warrior Race Guy, who is often dark-complexioned.  It’s an irritating trope in scifi generally- it’s a descendant of Noble Savage and Orientalist tropes from earlier fiction.

      • Sara

        I don’t perceive the Ferengi as “noticeably brown”;  as I recall (and which seems to be confirmed by google images), they were basically Caucasian-complexioned.  (And the old ones are make-uped to be downright pasty.)   I always interpreted them as a critique of faux-american neoliberal capitalism.  If they’re an uncomfortable reflection of any ethnicity stereotype, I think it would be Jewish, though I don’t think there’s great support  for that. 

        I agree with your broader point, though, that Star Trek isn’t great with the Proud Warrior Race Guy, who is often dark-complexioned.  It’s an irritating trope in scifi generally- it’s a descendant of Noble Savage and Orientalist tropes from earlier fiction.

  • Kendra

    Just checking back in, and man that is an AWESOME Pintrest collection there. Definitely going to spread that around the internet a bit if you don’t mind :-) 

  • Kendra

    Just checking back in, and man that is an AWESOME Pintrest collection there. Definitely going to spread that around the internet a bit if you don’t mind :-) 

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  • Nathaniel

    I have always loved Sisko. He’s such a badass. And the writers were  quite adept in having Sisko bring up his background while avoiding HE’S BLACK ISN’T THAT COOL WE SO PROGRESSIVE.

    Also this, because Avery Brooks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCv_m5KS9XY

  • http://www.blasianbytch.com BlasianBytch

    This man was my first love… after my mom told me you can’t marry a robot. 

  • terram777

    DS9 was my favourite.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this article! Black female Trekkie here and my husband and I are down to the last episodes of only our second rewatching of DS9, so this article is very timely in our little viewing world.

  • http://twitter.com/robtclements Robert Clements

    Thank you for this fine article, Kendra. A couple of supplemental points:

    The division in Trek between Niners – fans of DS9 – & the spaceship
    shows is very real. We tend to adore our show; & get dismissed as
    fanbois or -grrls in return. Mr Brooks’ playing of Ben Sisko is a
    significant part of that division (as is Nana Visitor’s playing of Kira
    Nerys) – both can be intense performers; & neither character really
    plays the traditional TV hero game. Why we love them both….

    Elton asked what Mr Brooks has been doing. Apart from regular ST
    convention appearances – caught him in Sydney.au last year & he’s
    truly amazing live – it seems that he’s mostly playing music &
    theatre & working as an arts organiser. Apparently, he doesn’t have
    an agent anymore; & gave no impression that he missed one….

  • http://twitter.com/devans00 devans00

    Even though I consider myself a Star Trek fan, I’ve only really watched the original 1969s series and the one with Kate Mulgrew as Captain Kathryn Janeway. This article makes me want to throw some Deep Space Nine into my Netflix queue if I can’t stream it right away. 

    For various reasons, I didn’t watch much TV in the early 90s, so I missed ST:DS9 first time around. Thanks for opening my eyes to what I missed.  

  • http://twitter.com/devans00 devans00

    Even though I consider myself a Star Trek fan, I’ve only really watched the original 1969s series and the one with Kate Mulgrew as Captain Kathryn Janeway. This article makes me want to throw some Deep Space Nine into my Netflix queue if I can’t stream it right away. 

    For various reasons, I didn’t watch much TV in the early 90s, so I missed ST:DS9 first time around. Thanks for opening my eyes to what I missed.  

  • Anonymous

    I admit I have never seen it, but thanks to this wonderful article, I have begun the long download!!!  I don’t watch much TV these days (song contests, a weakness and basketball), and almost never watch  anything unless I read about it here first.  I really am in awe of your reviews, and just want to say thank you………………

  • Alec Dunkley-Hickin

    Another episode worth mentioning is the two-part Past Tense, where three of the main characters are thrown back in time to an early 21-st century San Fransisco. The stuff went right over my head as a kid, but Sisko and Bashir are the ones rounded up and thrown into the ‘sanctuary’ ghetto, while the fair-skinned Dax is given all the comforts she could possibly want from the wealthy businessman.

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  • http://twitter.com/Ellington3 Rhonda Yearwood

    I liked DS9 and TNG but I really was not a fan of Voyager. 
    Thanks for doing this article tribute to Sisko! One of the things that I loved about that show was the love shown between Jake and his dad!
    And of course Quark and Odo arguing all the time was pretty good too! : )

  • BenjaminA-I

    I think one of the wonderfully amazing things about DS9, apart from the exceptional character of Benjamin Sisko, is how you can describe the Bajorans as “Jewish” but you can also describe them “Palestinian.”  Their story is a story of occupation, but it is also a story of a religious people where faith is the central guide and support in their life.  You could even make the argument that their faith sustained them in their struggle against the Cardassians that could be described as both resistance AND terrorism (DS9 often told stories of how the resistance even targeted civilian targets).  The main difference between the story and reality is that Bajor is not shared homeland.

  • BrookLyn

    What a wonderful piece on my favorite show!! I think the only point you didn’t touch on was Sisko’s role as a Jesus like figure to the Bajorans.  How flipping amazing was that?

  • Mr. Oyola

    Sisko’s critique of Vic’s sounds like it could a critique of The Help.

    I need to rewatch this show. . .  I gave up on it around the 5th season, so I sill have never seen it all the way through.

  • refresh daemon

    Great personal recollection of what is probably my favorite of the Star Trek series.

  • refresh daemon

    Great personal recollection of what is probably my favorite of the Star Trek series.

  • Skeptic

    Black woman here. I’m the biggest fan of DS9. Love In the Pale Moonlight. Love the long story arcs. Loved the Dominion Wars. Love the cultural exploration of OTHER species, rather than just humans. In fact even through the species as races prism, DS9 is different. Rather than have humans as the default and the best, with other species emulating humanity, there are many species, all of which get equal time and respect. I mean, Bajorans, Cardassians and Ferengi all get a lot of attention. And many more. It’s so much more morally ambiguous as well. The Marquis, Section 31, the politics. Perfection. It’s my favorite and the best Star Trek.

    However… I sensed a bit of anti-Picard bias up there and I can’t be party to that! I love Jean-Luc. He was a great captain and he wasn’t just arbitrarily “written to command respect”, his actions over the seven seasons did demand respect. I never felt like he was just being given power as a random white man. It was clear that he held himself back from the crew and sometimes chose respect over closeness. I just don’t want it be that in order to praise Sisko, it has to be an anti-TNG thing. I just feel that this is hinting that there is some sort of implied racial confrontation to Sisko defying Picard and I STRONGLY REJECT THAT.

    Agree with everything else.

    Also, wasn’t there supposed to be a racial parallel between Jewish people and the Bajorans? I’d always heard that. Make this a series! Please!

    • Kendra

      I actually do really love Picard, I promise! I was raised on TNG first, so I definitely have a soft spot for him (and First Contact is, IMO, the best of all the Trek movies mainly because I feel as though Stewart reached his peak as Picard right there.) But, admittedly, part of enjoyment of DS9 does come from the fact that it’s so unlike the other Treks and Sisko is SO unlike Picard in everything from hitting Q (one of my fave moments in the early seasons) to his relationship with his crew to his command style. 

      There’s a link between the Bajoran/Cardassian relationship and WW2, yep! It’s usually laid out simply as Bajorans = Jewish people while Cardassians = The Nazis, though I feel that a parallel to Tojo’s Japan is also applicable given the militaristic society. But there’s a lot more to be said about it– and the rest of the series, definitely. I purposely didn’t cover the whole Emmisary role, and there’s sooooo much to be said about women’s roles and sexuality as well.

      • Skeptic

        No problem! I loved Q and Sisko too! I honestly could just gush about this forever but didn’t want to get boring. Please write more about this!

    • Jinxiejade

      I’ve actually always thought of them more as Palestinians. But that’s what I love so much about the Treks (all of em, except Enterprise–try as I might I couldn’t get into it…I think I kept waiting for a leap). It was complex and rich enough to reflect the people watching it.

      And you’re right. In the Pale Moonlight goes down as my favorite episode of ANY tv show, but just showcases Avery Brooks as a wonderful actor. Him, alone, telling a  story.  Powerful.

    • Jinxiejade

      I’ve actually always thought of them more as Palestinians. But that’s what I love so much about the Treks (all of em, except Enterprise–try as I might I couldn’t get into it…I think I kept waiting for a leap). It was complex and rich enough to reflect the people watching it.

      And you’re right. In the Pale Moonlight goes down as my favorite episode of ANY tv show, but just showcases Avery Brooks as a wonderful actor. Him, alone, telling a  story.  Powerful.

  • Berdawn

    How timely! I just added this to my queue a couple of weeks ago and am enjoying this series once more. LOVED Sisko and can’t wait to see the final 3 seasons.

  • Jinxiejade

    Before I actually take this seriously, allow me to geek out and admit I’m naming my first born son Avery Tiberius.
    Thank you.

    Now, I want to thank Kendra James for this article. She was able to put into words exactly why this is my favorite Star Trek. It was allowed to be darker, to actually try to tackle issues instead of glossing over them and going “Lalalalalalala, the world is perfect.” Not only did they deal with racial issues, but there was the episode with the Bell riots which to this day cemented the fact that Avery Brooks is one hell of an actor.  It was easy to forget that Picard was supposed to be French (except for those awkward episodes home at the vineyard) but Sisko’s blackness was written as an intrinsic part of him without just reducing him to Black Guy with Beard.

  • Jay

    I vividly remember that conversation about whether playing the holosuite scenario was whitewashing the past, and how refreshing and exciting it was to see the characters’ differing opinions expressed and taken seriously. What other mainstream white-created show of that time showed well-developed black characters having real discussions about racism (or about anything)? I think its only peer on television in the 90s is Homicide: Life on the Street.

    It’s interesting, the comment about DS9 being the least Roddenberry-like of the Treks. I have to agree, as Roddenberry’s vision of a progressive future basically consisted of humans no longer seeing or acknowledging race. That seems to me a very white idea of what a perfect future would be like. DS9′s take on things — a future where people of all backgrounds can speak their truth and be respected — is far more nuanced. I know which future I’d prefer to live in.

  • http://twitter.com/gabbynicasio gabby nicasio

    Beautiful post about my very favorite Trek captain. Love, love, love seeing this here.

  • Elton

    I was unbelievably excited to visit Racialicious and see a picture of Captain Sisko.  It actually gave me shivers.  When I think of what Racialicious stands for, in terms of our hopes and dreams for the future of entertainment and pop culture, I think of DS9.

    DS9 was the least Star Trek-like and least Roddenberry-like of all the series, and I think that’s what made it great.  It dared to push the boundaries.  It wasn’t trapped by the original series, but went far, far beyond it while paying tribute to it http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Trials_and_Tribble-ations_(episode) in a much more respectful and mindful way than the dumbed-down 2009 reboot.

    When I compare DS9 to pretty much anything else on TV, I find it hard to believe that such a great show was actually on the air.  It’s so thoughtful, engaging, and well-written that I’m surprised it got made, since the standard MO for Hollywood is to cater to the lowest common denominator.You mentioned many of the great Sisko episodes.  Another one is http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/In_the_Pale_Moonlight_(episode)I’m also a big fan of the Ferengi episodes.  Although Ferengi culture pokes fun at our capitalist, materialistic culture, the Ferengi being proud businessmen makes them more relatable and fun.  And Nog’s development from little rascal to proud soldier was a thrill to watch.

    By the way, “Far Beyond the Stars” implies that all of Star Trek is actually a fantasy of Benny Russell’s.  I read somewhere that a potential series finale was going to reveal that Benny had actually sold his story and Star Trek itself is the filming of his dream.

    • Anonymous

       I read somewhere that a potential series finale was going to reveal that
      Benny had actually sold his story and Star Trek itself is the filming
      of his dream.

      That would have been amazing.

      • Anonymous

        They thought that it would be a cop-out, ultimately, to make the only Trek series starring a black man to be an extended dream sequence. I have to agree. It would be like confirming the unbelievable-ness of Benny’s original story.

        • chrysraye

          But it would have made all of Star Trek a dream sequence — including the Star Treks starring white men and a white woman. Not just Deep Space Nine.

  • Amaya

    BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I got introduced to DS9 last summer by a friend of mine, Ankhesen Mie.  Prior to that, TNG was my favorite of the Treks, but quickly changed my mind.  DS9 is the best of the Treks; in writing, direction, acting, and also in terms of diversity.  We really got to know more about other alien cultures and I fell deeper in love with the Klingons and learned to respect the Ferengi.  

    And then there’s Sisko.  No other actor could have played that role other than Avery Freaking Brooks.  I watched half the series (when he went bald and goateed) drooling because he brought a sex appeal and a swag to the role of Captain that neither Picard nor Kirk could have ever dreamed.  

    O Captain, My Captain indeed…

    • Lexluthor

      One thing that rarely gets mentioned about the character is the fact that he is the only Trek lead that actually had to EARN his captancy on screen. Remember he was simply a Commander when the show started and Picard out ranked him. Even Janeway, who had the distinction of being the first woman in the position, got the privilledge and respect of being Captain right from the start.

      • Anonymous

        Exactly. With Picard and Kirk we are already told how awesome they are. We’re supposed to be transfixed. We watch The Sisko grow and became a legend. His relationship with Jake is everything. Professor Brooks deserves all the Emmy’s especially for his work as Benny Russel. 

    • Elton

      Why haven’t we seen Avery Brooks in more things since DS9?  I can see by his Wikipedia page that he’s been busy with various projects, but I wish he was as visible as Shatner and Stewart have been.

      By the way, I just wanted to point out that he’s a musician (which he’s demonstrated on DS9), along with what seems like a very large number of Trek stars.  So many of the actors are unusually talented, so why don’t we see more of them?

      • Kendra

        We were trying to figure out whether or not he’s still a full time professor at Rutgers in NJ, but for awhile that career was taking up a good deal of his time. He also did a lot of theatre around the country– I saw him do King Lear at Yale Rep and while I was at Oberlin he came back twice to lecture and to do a reading of an all-Black cast ‘Death of A Salesman’. At some point he also did an experimental La Boheme that I attended a reading for. He’s definitely not as active in film and television as I’d like, but he’s got a nice theater thing going.

        (And hey, since according to The Captains, he’s the only Trek Captain –aside from Chris Pine– to not have divorced? Maybe his sticking close to home was a good thing…)