chapter
Space: the human frontier
Pages 1

The racial question in Star Trek is part of the woof and warp of the text, rather than one issue about colour. It is there in the impulse towards exploration, itself a feature of modern culture. It is there in the importance of colonialism everywhere one turns in Star Trek. The ‘Prime Directive’ is well intentioned but necessarily much honoured in the breach. It is there in the setting of freedom as Star Trek’s main goal, and in its hostility to slavery. It is there in the ‘multicultural’ crews of starships and space stations, playing out current debates about the limitations of this philosophy and strategy. It is there in Star Trek’s implacable opposition to the exploitation of one species by another. The issue of race and racism is there in the way Star Trek is haunted by the experience of black slavery in America, and by the Holocaust and its legacy. The inhuman, dehumanising aspect of these two major historical assaults on our ‘human rights’ underlies the incessant questioning of the crimes of humanity in Star Trek, as well as its unambiguously ‘humanist’ values.