"The original NASA culture was also imbued with a certain degree of idealism. Professionalism in its classic form requires the bearer to perform a public service, whether it be a doctor curing the sick or an engineer speaking the truth. Two forms of idealism contributed to the NASA culture of the first generation. One was the notion of the space race as the "good war"; the other was the romance of flight.
The airplane was barely twenty-five years old when the first generation of NASA employees was born. Most people traveled by bus or train, if they traveled at all. Flying in airplanes above the ground had a romantic quality that touched many NASA engineers while they were young."(Inside NASA: High Technology and Organizational Change in the U.S. Space Program, by Howard E. McCurdy, p. 83)
"NASA, along with the companies that performed contract work during Apollo, was a reflection of society's workforce in the late 1960s - mostly white, mostly male." (Apollo Missions: The Unsung Heroes, by Billy Watkins, p.79)
"Civil Rights advocates have been fond for years of pointing out the incongruity of a nation's being able to send men to the moon and bring them safely back again without being able to deal very effectively with its racial problems here on earth.
... NASA has compiled a dismal record with respect to female and minority employment. By now NASA should have learned that institutionalized sexism and racism give way to neither simple pieties nor eloquent declarations of principle. Achieving equitable employment opportunities for women and minorities in large American institutions requires skill, determination and sustained effort, just as a successful space program does. That is a lesson for the 1970s that all major American institutions must learn if the tragedies of the 1960s are to be avoided in this country's future." (Racism, Sexism, and Space Ventures, Washington Post, 11/24/1973)
Two white men successfully walked on a different world, 45 years ago tomorrow. Apollo 11 got them there.
"By the time Apollo 11 astronauts had landed on the Moon in 1969, a growing community of dissent had emerged, for whom America's space success belied a space agency barely integrated by race and gender, even by 1960s standards. Particularly problematic for NASA in the early 1970s was the continued gender and racial exclusivity of its astronaut ranks: the Moon Race had been one, but NASA would still fly only white male pilots. Without the Moon Race to shield it, the ethnic and gender homogeneity of NASA's astronaut corps also suggested a dissonance between the goals of Apollo (its obsession with putting "Whitey on the Moon") and the needs of a nation increasingly inclined to view persistent social discrimination as the leading national concern. Even Star Trek's USS Enterprise had enjoyed a crew integrated by gender and ethnicity..." (Inventing the American Astronaut, by Matthew H. Hersch, p. 173)
Apollo 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17 would also successfully land on the moon.
Apollo 18 and 19 would be cancelled, too expensive in an age dominated by the urge for equality and an unprecedented allocation of resources to ensure it happened.
And though the crew of the fictional Star Trek was integrated, the NASA that put 12 men on the moon from 1969 - 1972 was almost entirely white.
|Nichelle Nichols, who played the original Lt. Uhura in Star Trek, became a minority recruiter for NASA in 1977...|
Much to the chagrin of one of the fictional "astronauts" who spent years on the set of the USS Enterprise.
The black actress Nichelle Nichols, who played the part of Lt. Uhura on Star Trek.
In the pages of Forbes, she would be quoted as saying her efforts were successful, because she,"improved NASA’s human mission with her single-handed effort to include more women and African-Americans in the space agency of the late 1970s that was dominated by White-male employees."
Nichols would give a speech in 1977, titled 'New Opportunities for the Humanisation of Space', where she voiced her concerns and criticism that been been leveled against the space program by the women and minorities whom she had met during her travels.
She would meet with NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Flight, John Yardley, and the black NASA Assistant Administrator for Equal Opportunity Programs, Dr. Harriet Jenkins, to discuss her speech and why so few minorities were applying to be astronauts:
... she talked herself into becoming a recruitment contractor of minorities for NASA's Astronaut Corp. However, she informed those present that in accepting the assignment (contract) her credibility was at stake, and if she found suitably qualified women and minorities for the astronaut program who would subsequently not be selected, then she would 'personally file a class-action suit against NASA.' She was not going to be used to attract publicity and then have NASA say later that despite all its efforts it could find no qualified women or minorities. NASA concurred. (Women in Space, by David Shayler, p. 153)So NASA was no longer an organization where merit was the necessary condition for employment or advancement; it was nothing more than the lack of genitalia or an abundance of melanin that would instantly qualify you for NASA employment and getting pushed to the front of astronaut training.... or else Lt. Uhura would file a class-action lawsuit...
And people still believe we didn't go to the moon, when an actress from a fictional show about a future racial Utopia would dictate to NASA just who could be an astronaut...
In an interview with Smithsonian Magazine, she'd elaborate her angst with NASA selecting just another "all-white male astronaut corps":
Q: How did you become affiliated with NASA and in what capacity?
A: Ten years after "Star Trek" was cancelled, almost to the day, I was invited to join the board of directors of the newly formed National Space Society. They flew me to Washington and I gave a speech called “New Opportunities for the Humanization of Space” or “Space, What’s in it for me?” In [the speech], I’m going where no man or woman dares go. I took NASA on for not including women and I gave some history of the powerful women who had applied and, after five times applying, felt disenfranchised and backed off. [At that time] NASA was having their fifth or sixth recruitment and women and ethnic people [were] staying away in droves. I was asked to come to headquarters the next day and they wanted me to assist them in persuading women and people of ethnic backgrounds that NASA was serious [about recruiting them]. And I said you’ve got to be joking; I didn’t take them seriously. . . . John Yardley, who I knew from working on a previous project, was in the room and said 'Nichelle, we are serious.' I said OK. I will do this and I will bring you the most qualified people on the planet, as qualified as anyone you’ve ever had and I will bring them in droves. And if you do not pick a person of color, if you do not pick a woman, if it’s the same old, same old, all-white male astronaut corps, that you’ve done for the last five years, and I’m just another dupe, I will be your worst nightmare.
Q: And what happened?
It should be noted that in 1976, NASA's Astronaut Selection Board had put out new guidelines for how to recruit future astronauts. This was before a fictional lieutenant from a television would threaten a lawsuit if black and women candidates weren't selected...:A: They picked five women, they picked three African-American men, they picked an Asian and the space program has represented all of us ever since. That is my contribution and that is one of the things I am most proud of.
A. NASA determines final qualification requirements
B. Prepare recruiting information packets, which will include
1. Description of Space Shuttle program
2. Qualification requirements
B. Mission specialists
3. Description of selection process
4. Application blank(s)
C. Meet with special interest groups, such as National Organization for Women, NAACP, and the League of United Latin American Citizens.
1. Explain qualification criteria rationale
2. Enlist aid in publicizing recruitment effort and identification of candidates
3. Provide information packets for distribution
D. Prepare press kits
A. Announce recruitment program to the public
1. Possible press conference; consider participation by special interest group representatives
2. Distribute press kit
3. Provide all NASA public speakers with information kit for use in every public appearance
4. Place recruitment advertisements in appropriate publications. (The Real Stuff: A History of NASA's Astronaut Recruitment Program, By Joseph Atkinson, , p. 145-146)
During the 1960s and the buildup to the Apollo program, not one special interest had a say in anything NASA did.
We landed on the moon with Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 then.
|A much different future should be reflected back in the visor of Neil Armstrong than the one we find ourselves in in 2014, but that is not for us to decide. We were born into this era and must remember we have the ability to change it|
The post 1972 NASA gave us... meetings with the NAACP to dictate how NASA would select pilots for space travel.
NASA would then film a commercial with Lt. Uhura herself, Nichelle Nichols, dressed in blue overalls of an astronaut, delivering a recruitment pitch on national television. She read off of a teleprompter:
Oh, Hi. I'm Nichelle Nichols. It kind of looks like when I was Lieutenant Uhuru on the starship Enterprise , doesn't it. Well, now there's a twentieth century Enterprise, an actual space vehicle built by NASA and designed to put us in the business of space - not merely space exploration. NASA's Enterprise is a space shuttlecraft, built to make regularly scheduled runs into space and back. Now, the shuttle will be taking scientists and engineers, men and women of all races, into space - just like the astronauts crew on the starship Enterprise. That is why I'm speaking to the whole family of humankind - minorities and women included. If you qualify and would like to be an astronaut, now is the time! This your NASA! (The Real Stuff: A History of NASA's Astronaut Recruitment Program, By Joseph Atkinson, , p. 63-64)After 1972, NASA became nothing more than glorified United States Postal Service, dedicated to the same principles that have guided to the NAACP since its founding: advancing the interests of non-white people while subverting the interests of whites.
We went to the moon.
July 20, 2014 should be a date we celebrate our genesis into the exploration of new celestial worlds; instead, it's just another date where we see those stars going increasingly out of focus, clouded with the uncertainty of a future where the advancement of minority interests have completely subverted our civilization.
So congrats Nichelle Nichols: you've ensured the future - for now - is nothing like that (thankfully) of the liberal world of Star Trek; instead, it looks like something out of 1968's Planet of the Apes.
Space isn't the final frontier.
Race realism is the final frontier, an acceptance of this truth the way back to the stars.
If not, all roads point to Detroit.