This page is dedicated to Sonequa Martin-Green, the first woman of color to play the lead in a Star Trek Franchise. Each month I will explore things about the fascinating character they call Michael Burnham.
From my perspective, Michael Burnham, in the years before she joined Star Fleet, did not embrace her human individuality as a woman while on Vulcan. Logic would dictate that she conform to Vulcan culture and styles of the planet while trying to find her place. The pressure of being the best. The pressure of being the only human child in the Vulcan Academy. The pressure of losing your mother and father at an early stage in life. I wondered about her thoughts and anxiety of being different and the cruelty of children when someone is different. Since she was on Vulcan, I imagine there would be no taunting as children do on Earth. But as a human child, she probably expected it, whether it came or not.
It’s my speculation, but I suspect Serek, Michael’s foster father, had something to do with her early hairstyle choice. Let’s face it, he was an Ambassador on Vulcan. Michael grew to look up to him, not wanting to disappoint. He, I’m sure, wanted her to fit in as best possible. In Serek’s mind, this would mean Michael had to lose all that is human and assimilate to a logical state of mind. Everything else would not matter.
Perhaps a “Vulcan” look would deter Vulcan logic extremists from aggressive revolts to keep the Vulcan race “pure.” Well, that didn’t work, just like busing black children in white Southern schools back on Earth, 20th Century. Logic extremists also frowned on Sarek’s choice of a human wife. I wonder what names they called him behind his back.
None of these distractions stopped Michael from attaining her scholastic goals. She graduated from the Vulcan Science Academy at the top of her class, studying quantum mechanics, also known as quantum physics. Her studies also included Xenoantheropology, a skill which becomes useful later on in Star fleet. But, with all of her accomplishment’s, she still does not get the approval from Serek she desires.
Leaving VSA , Michael joins Star Fleet and is mentored once again. This time, she is training around a diverse group of people that welcome different cultures and lifestyles. Years move along as Michael spends quality time with the crew of the USS Shenzhou. In time she becomes the first officer for Captain Philippa Georgiou, where we see her embracing an Earthly hairstyle. Straight, but more relaxed, unlike the Vulcan bowl cut. After the events of the ill-famed “Vulcan Hello,” Burnham is convicted and serves as the first mutineer in Star Fleet, given a life sentence. We may be in the future, but some things don’t change, like making someone the “scapegoat.” Depressed over the death of her Captain, Michael most likely did nothing to defend herself, falling on the merciless court system. Six months into her sentence, Michael looks worn down. Her hair, with natural curls, cling close to her head in a style that suggests unfavorable conditions on a penal mining colony.
This seems to lend true, as a Dilithium Chrystal explosion rips a hole in the bottom of the mine. The story, told by one of the prisoners being transferred along with Michael, makes one wonder. Why only a few prisoners along with Burnham, get to make the trip to Tilla, to support war mining efforts? Why in the middle of the journey the shuttle changes course and gets caught up in a storm that kills the pilot? Why was Star Fleets finest ship the Discovery, in the area to be able to “save” the lost shuttle?
Michael, forced by Captain Lorca to assist in “winning the war,” is given a place on the Discovery to use her quantum physics skills on an unnamed project. Away from the penal colony, her training will help provide the edge Captain Lorca is looking for. Tight “s” curls come to life on her first day working with the science team. A blue jumper without rank designation suits her fine, for now. Welcome back Michael Burnham.
More on Michael Burnham – Friday, January 26th, 2018