lbr original series vulcan/romulan concepts were based on orientalist ideas about asian stoicism/militaristic aggression and arrogance and included some yellowface makeup, so let’s not even PRETEND please.
Yes, we all knew this, we’re intimately…
That’s Deep Space Nine, and the Klingon there next to Worf (Michael Dorn, actually black) is Miles O’Brien, (Colm Meany, not black in the show or real life) darkened.
Star Trek is a case that lacks a clear improvement over time, but a bunch of changes, many of which are arguably more racist and terrible than what went before.
The films introduced blackface, we like to think of Michael Dorn as the original ridge type Klingon, but it was Christopher Lloyd in brown makeup, although other Star Trek movies had orange Klingons, or Klingons who had the skin color of the actor playing them. In the original series, many minor Klingons had bad orange fake tans, but the three major Klingons were the actual color of the actors, Kang was played by Syrian-American actor Michael Ansara, while Koloth was actually paler than Kirk, and other minor Klingons were white without fake tans also.
Whether to call dark face paint blackface, let me ask you this: is the intention of the coloration to portray the characters as other, savage, violent? Does adding SciFi ridges make it not blackface? What does it mean when you have to paint yourself brown, grunt and headbutt people to portray an alien “race?”
Most Klingons looked like Michael Dorn in skin color, but the actors portraying them did not. Even Worf’s son was a white boy painted brown.
There was some variety in Klingon skin tone, but throughout modern and occasionally progressive Star Trek shows, actors were made up darker in order to portray the war obsessed, violent Klingons
It wasn’t until Enterprise that we returned to the idea that Klingons possess all skin tones, and the actor playing them were the same color as themselves. But more importantly, Enterprise spelled out something suggested in some episodes of previous media, that the bloodthirsty, death fixated warrior culture was a perversion of their actual culture, that those who had concerns outside of war were oppressed. For the first time, the stupid, angry and grandiose behavior of Klingons was presented as political rather than racially inherent.