In response to a swift and all too predictable wave of racist backlash from Star Wars “fans” dismayed by the idea of Black people existing in space, Disney has issued a statement supporting Obi-Wan Kenobi actor Moses Ingram.
Though Obi-Wan Kenobi’s first two episodes premiered only just last week, that was all the time it took for Star Wars obsessives to fixate on Ingram’s character Reva Sevander, one of the Galactic Empire’s Inquisitors tasked with exterminating the galaxy’s Jedi. On the Monday following this year’s Star Wars Celebration event, Ingram took to her personal Instagram account to share a selection from the “hundreds” of anti-Black, misogynist messages she’s received for portraying a fictional villain who does evil things. Ingram expressed that, while she’s grateful to fans who have the wherewithal to understand that actors are not the characters they play on television, she also admitted to feeling a certain degree of dejection “because there’s nothing anybody can do about this.”
“There’s nothing anybody can do to stop this hate, and so I question what my purpose is in even being here in front of you saying that this is happening,” Ingram said. “I think the thing that bothers me is that like sort of this feeling that I’ve had inside of myself — which no one has told me — but this feeling of like ‘I’ve just got to shut up and take it,’ you know?”
Hours after Ingram’s post, the official Star Wars Twitter account shared a message reaffirming that Ingram’s character Reva Sevander is very much a part of the franchise regardless of what any racist trolls have to say.
There are more than 20 million sentient species in the Star Wars galaxy, don’t choose to be a racist.
— Star Wars (@starwars) May 31, 2022
There are always a number of reasons — like racism — why people who supposedly love genre fiction like Star Wars or the Percy Jackson novels feel compelled to show their asses like this. But the response to Ingram feels at least in part inspired by the text of Obi-Wan Kenobi itself. In the short amount of time that Reva (who’s also known as the Third Sister) has been a part of the Star Wars franchise, Obi-Wan’s established that, while it’s her job to slay Jedi and put the fear of the Empire into its subjugants, her hunt for Obi-Wan is somewhat personal.
Rather than simply being a Sith aligned with the dark side of the Force, Reva’s introduced as one of the few living Jedi conscripted by the Empire to eradicate their kind as part of Order 66, the Empire’s plan to wipe the Jedi out permanently. Reva has shown herself to be an effective Inquisitor who’s committed to her mission. But her past has been a major point of contention for other Empire villains like the Grand Inquisitor (Rupert Friend) and the Fifth Brother (Sung Kang) — both of whom see Reva’s headstrong viciousness as a double-edged sword that could hurt the Empire’s cause.
Many of the messages being lobbed at Ingram seem to take issue with how unhinged Reva’s often appeared in Obi-Wan — a character trait that’s easy to recognize as an intentional part of the story the show is trying to tell. Unlike the Grand Inquisitor and the Fifth Brother, who both take more reserved approaches to terrorizing civilians, Reva’s much more quick to a level of violence that borders on lunacy, and Obi-Wan has repeatedly emphasized how Reva’s temper will likely lead to her downfall.
Clearly, telegraphed narrative intentionality has never been enough to keep racist Star Wars trolls from fixing their mouths to spout utter nonsense. John Boyega was famously met with years of ongoing racist hostility in the wake of his casting as Finn, as was Kelly Marie Tran after she joined the franchise as Rose Tico in Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.
Ultimately, both Boyega and Tran were forced to spend too much of their time in the Star Wars spotlight dealing with the arrested development of a franchise that didn’t deserve them. While it’s looking like Ingram might end up suffering the same fate as Obi-Wan continues, the actor finished out her Instagram video by letting everyone know that she has no intentions of going quietly into the night.
“I’m not built like that, so I really just wanted to come on and say thank you to the people who show up for me in the comments and the places that I’m now going to put myself,” Ingram said. “And to the rest of y’all: y’all weird.”