Racism to Transhumanism

Log owner:

Victoria Radbourne

January 15, 2023

Captain’s Log, Stardate 21015.5

Happy new year, everyone, and welcome back to Star Trek Sundays Season Two! 

In our first episode of this season we discussed Racism to Transhumanism – the othering of people and what that may look like in the future. For this discussion we used two episodes from Star Trek, one obviously about racism as we know it today, and as they saw it in the 1960s, as well as a more recent episode in which the othering is done with oppression of non-organic people. 

First Officer T curated the following episodes for us: 

  1. “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” TOS, Episode 3×15 – First aired: 10 January 1969
  2. “Flesh and Blood” VOY, Episode 7×09/10 A double-length episode  – First aired: 29 November 2000

First Officer T provided an in depth summary of why he chose this subject which I will add to my log:  

“Star Trek has never shyed away from tackling heavy handed issues, and racism is of course no different. They did some pretty groundbreaking stuff back in the day, like having one of the first interracial kisses on TV between Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura. 

Racism was a very well debated topic at the time of Star Trek’s inception too, as in the late 1960s, the civil rights movement was in full swing in the United States, and the topic of racism was a major focus of public discourse. During this time, there was a lot of activism and protests aimed at ending racial segregation and discrimination. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were both passed during this period, which helped to legally end many forms of racial discrimination. However, despite these legal victories, racism and racial tensions remained a significant problem in the country. There were also many incidents of racial violence, including the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. 

Today, some things have changed, while many have not, so I think it will be interesting to revisit this topic as it was tackled back then, and all these years later, and see what we have learned in the meantime.”

“Let This Be Your Last Battlefield” is an episode I remember watching when I was younger. It sure takes on a different meaning when viewing it as an adult and with intention. I saw that the two characters from Cheron were mirror images of themselves and my first thought was that they held some sort of self-hatred in order to feel the hate they had for each other. 

And their prejudice for the monotones was also interesting. While they hated each other more and for specific reasons, they seemed to also have a prejudice for the monotones. 

The trope of black vs white is a well understood one, but in the future, it stands to reason humans will create new reasons to treat others as outsiders instead of peaceful co-habitants of this universe. So we asked the crew: “What do you think we will face in the future as far as reasons to treat others with prejudice?” And this led us into a fascinating discussion about transhumanism, augmentation, and even enhancements people do today and whether or not opinions on current issues will change in the future. 

In “Flesh and Blood”, we are introduced to the Hirogen, a race of hunters who have been using holograms as prey for training and entertainment. The episode deals with themes of sentience and the moral implications of using advanced technology.

The episode highlights the moral implications of the Hirogen’s treatment of the holograms as lesser beings, despite their sentience and ability to experience pain and suffering. The episode also touches on the idea of the othering, as the Hirogen see the holograms as a different species and thus justify their mistreatment.

The conversations for both episodes were extended because we wanted to leave space for everyone to contribute. Therefore, we chose to break this recording into two podcasts. I will add my detailed thoughts about what the crew had to say about this episode in a Captain’s Log that will be published when that episode airs. Star Trek Sundays Season 2 Episode 1 Crew:
First Officer T; Lt. Rachael, Lt. No Name, Lt. Ryan, Ensign Bro, Ensign Ginny, Ensign Jk, Lt. Lasha, Lt. Stu

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