ByCatherine Charlwood, writer at
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Catherine Charlwood

While the overall reaction to the prequel series Star Trek: Discovery has been mainly positive, there are always some bad eggs who claim that the new series is "white genocide in space." These individuals, who feel attacked by "SJW propaganda" and "cultural Marxism" seem to have forgotten what the essence of Star Trek really is.

The vision of a truly inclusive future, in which all are judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin, is personified by the crew of the starship Enterprise. Time and again Star Trek dealt tackled the subject of diversity and tolerance by normalizing integration of people of different ethnicity, heritage and nationality working together as part of a united Earth. Many episodes dealt with issues of racism and intolerance, here are seven of the best.

1. "Measure of a Man" (TNG)

A particularly poignant episode of The Next Generation took its name from a quote from Dr Martin Luther King Jr, to act as a reminder of slavery and the many ways in which it was justified. In a universe where The Federation was a thriving beacon of human rights, the subject arose of rights for all sentient beings. This led to the question of how do we determine sentience? In Measure of a Man Commander Data is put on trial to determine whether he is sentient or merely an calculator walking about on two legs.

2. "North Star" (Enterprise)

Captain Archer and his crew come across a planet while searching The Expanse which seems to be stuck in Earth's 19th Century. As an allegory for post-Apartheid South Africa it features the humans mistreating and discriminating against their former captors and oppressors, the Skagarans.

3. "Patterns of Force" (TOS)

Kirk and the gang head to the planet Ekos in search of a Federation historian, only to discover that the world has followed the societal path of Nazi Germany. The antagonist Melakon judges Spock for his appearance, "Note the sinister eyes and the malformed ears. Definitely an inferior race... Note the low forehead, denoting stupidity." His statements echoing that of early 18th century psychiatrists and slavery-apologists.

4. "The Enemy" (TNG)

Humans and Romulans have been at war with each other since the beginning of Star Trek, so when Geordi LaForge is stranded on a hostile planet with a mortal enemy, it seemed like the worst case scenario. However, LaForge realized that the Romulan is just as terrified as he is and they work together, to ensure their survival, and as the episode progresses so does their camaraderie. In the end this unlikely alliance diffuses a deadlier situation between a Romulan Warbird and the Enterprise.

5. "Nemesis" (Voyager)

The episode Nemesis (not to be confused with the movie) tackles the idea of assuming hatred by way of misinformation, showing that intolerance is a result of nurture, not nature and that it can be challenged and overcome. The audience is misled into believing that the human-like Vori are the heroes and that the less aesthetically pleasing Kraden are the villains. However, this turns out to be the opposite.

6. "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" (TOS)

In what has to be the most conspicuous treatment of racial tensions in Star Trek, the Enterprise ends up in the middle of a conflict when Lokai, a political refugee, requests asylum from his pursuer, the officer Bele. On their home planet Cheron, Lokai is seen to be of an inferior race as the right side of his face is white and the left side of his face is black, whereas Bele's colorings are the opposite. A seemingly innocuous difference to the enlightened crew of the starship, but it was enough for a racially-motivated war that destroyed the entire planet.

7. "Far Beyond The Stars" (DS9)

This is a story that touches on racism and sexism by way of 1950s New York. Benny Russell is a writer and an African-American meaning that he has to deal with racial intolerance every step of the way. He tells a tale of a space station with a black commander, Benjamin Sisko, but this story was too much for the bigoted views of the time. The episode manages to sneak in a nod to Star Trek writer Dorothy "D.C." Fontana, who like Kay Eaton (K.C. Hunter) was forced to write under a male-aligned pseudonym.

What are some of your favorite Star Trek moments? Let us know in the comments.


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