Being a fantasy and sci-fi fan, I did not grow up seeing myself represented in the media I consumed. After 57 years, the time has finally come, the first Black incarnation of the Doctor has arrived! Jo Martin was revealed as an incarnation of the Doctor in series 12 episode “Fugitive of Judoon”. I remember when I watched my first episode of Doctor Who, I started on the Tenth Doctor and was captured by the story and concept. It allowed me to escape and I fantastically dreamt about being a companion and being swept away into the Doctor’s world. But, it only allowed me to dream up to a certain point.
I don’t believe that Black characters are greatly displayed in Doctor Who. For some examples, take Martha Jones, the Tenth Doctor’s companion who lived in the shadow of Rose. Bill Potts, who was turned into a Cyberman. Even, Mickey Smith, not a companion, but he constantly sacrificed and was tragically devoted to Rose Tyler. As a fan, it was disappointing seeing ourselves portrayed in a way that our importance was based on pain and the advancement for others. A theme often portrayed in media. Jo Martin has turned that idea and trope around!
Why is it so important?
People of color are taught at a young age to sympathise and find a way to relate to mostly white characters. This conditioning implants the idea that what you see is who the fantasy world is for. To see yourself on screen is a liberating experience. Instead of being on the outside looking in, suddenly you are inside.
Jo Martin being introduced as the first Black Female Doctor, made me as a Black woman elated. Black women and fans can finally watch themselves as the Doctor. The TARDIS is also ours now.
I have many questions and concerns like; where exactly Jo Martin’s Doctor falls in the timeline, and how can two Doctors exist in the same timeline? Right now, regardless of the outcome, I am looking forward to what is to come. In fact, I am about to get caught up and witness history in the making.