How Star Trek Inspired a Generation of Jamaican Youth to Reach for the Stars


I am curious – does friendship make logical sense or is it purely an emotional bond?

Lieutenant Data, Star Trek TNG


In the halcyon days of youth, I was like many boys my age – fascinated by science fiction and dreaming of exploring the furthest reaches of space. But as a “blerd” – a black nerd – I often felt like an outsider in my love of speculative fiction. That all changed when I discovered Star Trek.

Growing up in what used to be the quiet streets of Paradise Acres, nestled in the hills of Montego Bay’s northwest, I found my world expanding in ways I never expected – not just physically, but philosophically. It was there, under Caribbean skies, that I first embarked on a journey into the cosmos, guided by the illuminating starlight of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This show unfolding against the vibrant backdrop of Jamaican culture opened my eyes to boundless possibilities and shaped my understanding of leadership, diversity, and human potential.

While sci-fi was still a niche genre, Star Trek’s progressive portrayal of a multi-cultural crew inspired me more than I can say. Not only did it feature prominent black characters in roles beyond stereotypes, it also promoted values of diversity, exploration and bringing people together that mirrored Jamaica’s own motto of “Out of Many, One People.”

Navigating the Cosmos of Possibility in Paradise Acres

My introduction to Star Trek came from my father, enamored by the original series. I was instantly taken with the original series as a youngster in the 80s. Seeing characters like Lieutenant Uhura who looked like my Aunty Judith at that time in my life and everything the Federation represented – a utopia, equality, and socialism – it really resonated with me.

Star Trek: The Original Series – Adult Colouring Book Where No Man Has Gone Before, Dark Horse Comics

I eagerly watched alongside my old man the adventures of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, and deeply resonating with Spock’s commitment to logic and the greater good. But it was Next Generation that captured my heart, with Captain Picard’s diplomacy and intellectual prowess. As I navigated my prepubescent world at Mt. Alvernia preparatory school, Picard’s teachings became my compass through uncharted territories.

Data and his quest to understand humanity mirrored my own self-discovery. His philosophical questions about existence and knowledge illuminated my mind. I was drawn into the show’s engaging moral dilemmas and ethical choices, seeing it not just as entertainment but a conduit for meaningful reflection.

Give Us Vision Lest We Perish

Geordi La Forge, the blind engineer, had a profound impact. His visor, representing his unique perception, became an empowering symbol. A coworker of mine, Ms. Bulgin vividly recalled imitating Geordi as a child, running around the house with her mom’s Bandoo as visors transporting me back in time, to when I did that same thing and unlocking even more memories. I realised Star Trek’s cultural influence extended beyond my own experience.

Its representation of black characters in the 1980s, when sci-fi rarely featured diversity, gave hope. It challenged norms and expanded imagination, fostering an environment where differences enhanced our collective strength. Seeing black characters in prominent leadership roles like Captain Sisko on DS9 was empowering and inspiring for black Jamaican youth who lacked representation in media at the time. It showed them they too could achieve great things.

Don’t take it for granted that Star Trek opened up new possibilities in terms of careers and futures Jamaican youth may not have otherwise considered, like in science, technology and exploration. It sparked interests in STEM.

Throughout high school, my Star Trek fandom was often met with mockery by peers. But as of late I seem to have found solidarity among a small band of fellow “Trekkies” who seem to run into each other in PanAfrican circles and tend to debate episodes, predictive programming, ancient aliens and speculate on alien cultures.

Today, outside of being columnist, writer, artist, community activist and teacher… I also moonlight in PC repair and am that friend, friends call to see if they can get it fixed without going downtown etc. Yep I am a tech aficionado, an AI early adopter, a Desktop Linux User since 2000, a fan of Robotics and things like Raspberry Pi and Beagle boards. I think I can credit Star Trek and my father with his gadgetry obsession with igniting my interest in science.

For countless Jamaican “blerds” like myself, many more than I may have realised. Star Trek represented more than just sci-fi entertainment. It opened their eyes to new possibilities. Our exploration through this article reveals how Star Trek, against the backdrop of my Jamaican upbringing, shaped my understanding of leadership, diversity and human potential. It invited me to see beyond perceived limitations and reach for boundless possibilities in the stars. Star Trek’s impact on Jamaican youth throughout the 80s and 90s is a testament to the universality of its themes and the transcendent power of storytelling.

Previously published. About the author: Yannick Nesta Pessoa, B.A. is Jamaica’s first blogger, a History and Social Studies Teacher, Community Activist, Artist and Entrepreneur. Follow Yannick on Twitter and Instagram at @yahnyk |