During a GalaxyCon Q&A, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine veterans Armin Shimerman, Nana Visitor, and Andrew Robinson talked about a variety of subjects related to the show.
When asked about the legacy of the show, actor Armin Shimerman claimed that the legacy of the show was Black Lives Matter.
At around the 22:20 minute mark, the actors are asked by a fan, “What do you think the legacy of Star Trek: Deep Space nine is? Were you happy with your characters development and the overall Stark Trek legacy?”
Nana Visitor, who played Major Kira, responded, “Yea. I am happy with it. And I was happy with my character’s development. I mean got such an arc to who she was. It really went the seven years. So much so that I could have seen going on with it for a few more. I loved what they did with my character.”
She then responded to the legacy question stating, “I think the legacy of Deep Space Nine is the more things change, the more they stay the same. I think there are questions that Deep Space Nine brought up and held up for people to look at that are completely for this time. They are the same. I think Deep Space Nine is very timely.”
Andrew Robinson, who played Garak, then responded, “The thing is about this show, it really changed my life. I came in expecting to do one episode. When I say it changed my life, I’m not exaggerating. Because what the show did… Because I wasn’t a regular, and I was a recurring character. I did enough shows so that I made enough money so I could do stuff that didn’t make money.”
In terms of the show Robinson stated, “In terms of the legacy of the show itself, thematically and what it means, I don’t know. Here we are stuck in this world where we live now and being assailed on all fronts. Politically, medically, personally, financially, times are hard, and it is nice perhaps to turn on a show and see a show where there is a 24th century that has good actors in it.”
Armin Shimerman, who played Quark, then gave his answer, “For me, I was not always happy with the arc of my character. But I think starting towards the end of the second season, I began to realize that Quark could do something that was honorable every now and then, which sort of appealed to me.”
He continued, “I was very happy about the episodes where I got to have what I called the stock moments where the alien would speak to the humans and say, ‘You may think you are perfect, but look at your faults.’ Those were some of my favorite episodes.”
Shimerman added, “I would say that it was a great learning curve between the second to the last episode and the last episode. In the second to last episode they had my character revert back to where he was at the beginning of the show. And I saw really for the first time in my own mind how far my character had progressed from that time. I was quite astonished by that. It had crept on me and I had never noticed. About how much the character had changed.”
As for the legacy of show he answered, “The legacy of the show, I think Nana is right that the more the change, the more we stay the same. Because from what Andy said as well, we are dealing with strange times.”
He continued, “Certainly with an understanding of what the African-American community has been suffering for many years. We always were reminded of that on the show. We had a phenomenal actor who was very much concerned with Black Lives Matter, our captain, Avery Brooks.”
He added, “I think one of the legacies of the show is his performance and what they wrote for him to demonstrate the problems of being a Black man in basically a white and orange society.”
Robinson agreed stating, “That’s right on. Right on, Armin.”
Later in the Q&A another fan would ask, “What would DS9 be talking about now if it were still on?”
Shimerman responded, “As I said earlier, we would be talking about racism. We did talk about racism.”
Visitor added, “We did,” with Robinson saying, “Yes.”
Shimerman continued, “We would be talking more about.”
Visitor interjected, “We hit it all. Politics. The Bajoran who were in power, who were dirty. There’s all so much stuff we touched on.”
Shimerman then added, “Our program wasn’t about boldly going anywhere, our program was about boldly living with each other. And with people you didn’t necessarily see eye to eye with.”
He added, “At various times my character didn’t see eye to eye with the other two characters right here. But we had to live with each other. We were quarantined together on the station. And we had to learn how to figure that out. And if we didn’t like someone we still had to figure how to deal with them.
Shimerman concluded, “And that’s what we’d be talking about today. Again, how do we live with people that aren’t familiar. Because we must do that, we must learn to live with people that aren’t familiar.”
Robinson then stated, “And boldly going within oneself. And that’s another often undiscovered country. It’s like who are we? Who are you? What is a human? What is an alien?”
He later added, “What is an alien? And how do I relate to the alien within me? And what alienates me from the rest of society? Deep Space Nine was never, never unattached to those questions. It was always probing.”
Avery Brooks’s Own Views on Captain Benjamin Sisko
While Benjamin Sisko actor Avery Brooks was not on the panel, he has addressed the legacy of the show in previous interviews.
In one interview Brooks explained why he took on the role of Benjamin Sisko.
He stated, “Part of the reason that I decided to do this role was the pilot. I thought it was an extraordinary where you are looking at a man was trying to find peace after suffering tragic loss. Who at the same time had to defend humankind to some other intelligence in the universe.”
He continued, “One of the things we must do is to give children some positive look at the world, indeed the universe. Star Trek helps to do that.”
In an interview from 1992, Brooks talked about his role, “Human conflicts, which makes it a wonderful experience because you can play everything.”
He added, “But certainly in terms of the relationships, he has to find a way to pull these various factions together: Major Kira, who is a Bajoran national, Odo, the shapeshifter, and Quark, the Ferengi. So you have these various cultures coming together and he has to find a way to bond those creatures, those beings, including himself.”
During the Captain’s Documentary by William Shatner, Brooks opened up about another aspect of why he felt it was important to bring the role of Sisko to life.
He spoke of the landscape in America while discussing the Season 6 episode “Far Beyond the Stars” that shows the difficulty of a black sci-fi writer trying to get published in the 1950s.
He stated, “You got a chance to deal with some very, very difficult subjects as Star Trek often does. When we talk about America, we still face the inextricable connection between racism, sexism, you know all that is here. It’s part of our landscape. So the fact that we were able to talk about it, I thought was very important.”
In a section titled Star Trek’s Impact, Brooks states, ” I say in the very beginning to the people, that you complete the thought. I always believed that. Not just about Star Trek, but engaging in this electronic, two dimensional plane. It is human beings that complete the thought.”
He continued, “And therein lies the power of it. Because without the folks turning it on, without the folks supporting it, talking about it, sharing it with each other…”
He would later state, “This window, if you will, to the imagination and the world was in someways more important than I had ever considered. And thereby that I understood, I hope, in a new way what, how important the people are who decide to turn it on.”
What do you make of Shimerman’s claims that Black Lives Matter is the legacy of Deep Space Nine? Do you think the show would be addressing racism if it was still on today?