Star Wars stood by its new star Krystina Arielle, who was recently the target of racial harassment online.
Cosplayer, singer, and entertainer Arielle had much to rejoice about when she was tapped for a plum gig hosting “The High Republic Show,” a web series which discusses “Star Wars: The High Republic,” and the new succession of media from its franchise.
However, that celebration was short-lived when Arielle was inundated with racist, hateful comments from users on social media.
“We the last 24 hours have been … not the greatest,” Arielle posted on Twitter, along with screenshots displaying the abuse directed at her.
The official Star Wars Twitter account was quick to intercede, condemn the comments, and voice their support for Arielle.
“Our Star Wars community is one of hope and inclusivity. We do not stand for bullying and racism. We support @KrystinaArielle,” they posted.
Much of the vitriol hurled at Arielle stemmed from a post she tweeted around May during the political unrest that began after George Floyd was killed. It was unabashedly direct in addressing white people on the subject of race.
“White people: please hear me when I say now is not the time. It’s not the time for you to try to prove you aren’t racist in every post about racism. It’s not the time to center yourself and your feelings. Our grief has no space for your absolution right now.”
A month later she wrote another blunt tweet, “And I was in such a good mood. White People: You do not get to absolve people of racism. You do not get to point out their “Growth” when they say black lives matter after treating us as if we don’t. You don’t get to accept apologies on our behalf. That shouldn’t need to be said.”
She continued, “And stop patting them on the back for doing the bare f—–g minimum task of being decent and humane to Black people.”
This is not the first time other entertainers of color have been exposed to this kind of reception. When actor John Boyega was revealed to be one of the featured players in The Force Awakens, fans threatened to boycott the film, and Boyega was beleaguered with backlash. And while he bullishly tweeted to hateful commenters to, “Deal with it,” he told GQ that the abuse eventually took a toll.
“I’m the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race,” Boyega said. “Let’s just leave it like that. It makes you angry with a process like that. It makes you much more militant; it changes you. Because you realize, ‘I got given this opportunity but I’m in an industry that wasn’t even ready for me.’”
“Nobody else in the cast had people saying they were going to boycott the movie because [they were in it],” he added. “Nobody else had the uproar and death threats sent to their Instagram DMs and social media, saying, ‘Black this and black that and you shouldn’t be a Stormtrooper.’ Nobody else had that experience. But yet people are surprised that I’m this way. That’s my frustration.”
Some fans are cynical about the sincerity of the Star Wars tweet, precisely because of Boyega’s past treatment and what they saw as Disney’s relative silence on the matter. It’s this, among other cases of trolls and internet bullying that afflicted the films’ cast, that caused some on Twitter to criticize what they deemed as Star Wars’ attempt to piggyback off of circumstances as performative.