I was reading River Song’s article on the TARDIS wikia and came across a mention of Mels’ regeneration into River Song. Even with all of the problematic allusions, sexism, and references surrounding River Song’s character, she’s actually one of my favorites.
Even so, there’s something about her turning from a white child into a Black woman into a white woman that just rubs me the wrong way.
You have to look at Doctor Who not only as fictional story but as a production. Who’s producing Doctor Who? Who is starring and who has starred in Doctor Who? Who controls who appears in Doctor Who?
Who. is. WRITING. this. show??? Okay?
The show appears to be written by outright racist whites and colorblind racist whites, like most of everything on television. I can’t speak for people of the Black/African Diaspora in Britain, or anyone else but myself, and this is how I see it:
The idea that Time Lords (especially the ones sticking their noses in Earth affairs like the Doctor) have some control over their regeneration and can be any “color” they want is a sickening and dreadful idea to me as a Black woman. One minute, Black–the next minute white, like changing your shoes. White people think being Black is convenient as long as you don’t have to stay Black or experience what it means to be Black, like grow up Black and stay that way. That’s the problem with fictions like Cloud Atlas, Doctor Who and Avatar–the narrative itself automatically decentralizes and derails any connection to heritages of Color/non-white heritage that defies and threatens the unjustly established supremacy of whiteness , aside from outward appearance. That means its okay to appear to be Black, or non-white, as long as whiteness remains unchallenged as the dominant narrative and worldview.
To the white viewer, its probably all shits and giggles to pretend you can be a different race, one that you continue to unapologetically mocked, commoditized, and committed every crime against humanity possible as long as you can again be white or Asian or whatever you think will suit your purposes.
My race and ethnicity is not a costume. And that’s the problem with white people who want to be anything but white as long as they can go back to being white at the end of the day. That’s the problem with these “racial chameleon” characters.
And when has the Doctor ever not been white??? Never, right. Out of all eleven (and, soon, twelve) of his regenerations, he has always been white. Why is that? If its all just a matter of “color”, like a t-shirt or a pair of pants. If color is that easy. The Doctor stays just as white as a table cloth.
There’s always going to be some trumped up, pathetic reason for why this is, because racism is so rationalized people don’t want to see it for what it is. Its the next best thing to blackface, only they get real brown people to be the stand-ins. And as long as you can rationalize it to right people, no one questions it, no one says ‘no. just no’.
As a conscious Black female viewer, that just doesn’t make any sense to me. Yet I understand it and see it for what it is. And that’s why I’m writing this.
Post-racial science fiction white fuckery.