By Erin Donnelly, Yahoo TV
A Star Trek fan gave her cosplay ode to Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge — the character played by LeVar Burton on Star Trek: The Next Generation — a personal twist by adding a hijab in a nod to her Muslim faith.
And while she says she received negative comments over the costume she wore to San Diego Comic-Con 2019, her diverse update has won praise online and caught the attention of Burton himself.
Blair Imani, a Trekkie, historian and author of Modern HERstory, shared a photo of her homage to Burton’s blind Enterprise-D engineer on Twitter after getting some strong reactions at Comic-Con. According to Imani, “only three” people approached her about presenting the male Geordi as a woman, but the addition of her hijab riled up “trolls.”
Some people didn’t like my hijab being added to a Star Fleet uniform. Luckily TRUE FANS of @StarTrek know that diversity is KEY to Roddenberry’s vision. Thank you to everyone defending me against the trolls. Lots of love 💕 pic.twitter.com/bwVgap6CfO— Blair Imani | Online: 😊 (@BlairImani) July 22, 2019
Only 3 people at Comic Con asked me about cosplaying as a Geordi La Forge who presents as a woman. Everyone else has been focused on the hijab.— Blair Imani | Online: 😊 (@BlairImani) July 24, 2019
Indeed, some Twitter commenters voiced complaints that the hijab conflicted with Star Trek canon, sparking a Trekkie debate about the rejection of religion and Starfleet dress codes. (The issue was previously addressed in a 2017 Medium post, in which writer Scott Neidich argued that “placing a hijab on the bridge of the Enterprise would imply that Islam had survived to the 23rd century [note: the original Star Trek is set in the 23rd century, while Next Generation’s Geordi hails from the 24th century] while we have no reason to believe any other modern human religion can claim similar.”)
She forgot the whole part of freedom also the hijab would have violated the Starfleet dress code like the bajorian earring.— Baked Jesus (@BAKEDOUTJESUS) July 22, 2019
Except the Bajorans, Klingons, Vulcans, all have religious/spiritual beliefs, Sisko converts to the Bajoran faith, Chakote and other N. Americans are shown to still hold their beliefs, Measure of a Man talks about souls, etc. Star Trek is actually not hostile to religion.— Gul Duthot (@GulDuthot) July 22, 2019
But the majority of responses were positive, with Burton dubbing it “the best cosplay of Geordi, EVER.”
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Imani told Today that she also received messages from fellow Next Generation stars Wil Wheaton and Brent Spiner praising her custom-made get-up.
Best cosplay of Geordi, EVER... courtesy of my friend @BlairImani Thank you, little Sister, you honor not only me, but all the kids out there who saw LaForge as a hero. #bydhttmwfi https://t.co/zNAVwXTwuf— LeVar Burton (@levarburton) July 20, 2019
“It’s just exciting to think of a future that includes everybody, which includes Muslims,” she told Today.
Despite objections from some Star Trek fans, she’s also hopeful that a hijab-wearing character will one day board the Enterprise.
“I think that would be really great right now, at a time when people are being told to go back to their countries of origin when they perfectly well belong in the country they live in,” she said. “I think it would be really revolutionary for Star Trek to take a stand and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to continue to be on the front lines of progress,’ and we’re going to say, ‘Hey, Muslims exist in the future.’”
Imani, who has not yet responded to Yahoo’s request for comment, also informed her Twitter followers that the reception to her Geordi look has inspired her to break out two fresh cosplays for the upcoming Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, which kicks off 31 July.
If you hate Muslims but love Star Trek get ready to be A N G R Y . Lol— Blair Imani | Online: 😊 (@BlairImani) July 24, 2019