Thursday, February 20, 2020

Racism In Star Trek

Star Trek has long been known to tackle societal issues, and racism is one that has come up a few times. Usually, as in "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield", it's fairly on the nose and shows the how ridiculous the very concept is. Here's an exchange from that episode:

While the above example is from an alien species, we have also seen these kinds of thoughts in humans, like in "Balance of Terror".

Usually this is completely shut down, as Kirk does with Lt. Stiles. One would think that humanity would have grown beyond that by the 23rd century, and I'm willing to say that, as a rule, we will have. What we see with Stiles above and Kirk himself in Star Trek 6 are more of a resentment that have grown out of experiences.

Stiles is carrying a grudge that members of his family were killed in the Earth-Romulan War (which occurred BEFORE the advent of visual ship-to-ship communication, not that you'd know it by watching Enterprise). Kirk has grown to resent Klingons due to all of his experiences with them, topped off my the death of his son. My own character in "Tales of the Seventh Fleet" was also bigoted in this way, due to his having grown up on Sherman's Planet.

So, what does all this tell us? From the evidence that we have of humans and their prejudices in the 23rd century I think that we can conclude that there is no longer ingrained or learned racism, but rather situational bigotry. In other words, certain individuals are shown to have a prejudiced way of thinking due to events in their, or their family's, lives. Does that make it right? Not at all, but it does seem to show that their bigotry, however wrongly, is predicated on experience and not just "X kind of people are bad" being handed down.

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