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Race in Space - Star Trek: Strange NEW Worlds...with Familiar OLD Problems: Discrimination

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

CAPTAIN'S LOG: Star Date: 062723

Memo to Crew and Readers: TIME-SENSITIVE...For immediate attention!!!

Through June 30, Prime is streaming free for members all 10 episodes of Season 1 "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds." After that, it will move to a new quadrant of our online galaxy: Paramount+ - which is already hosting Season 2. Captain out!


On the recommendation of Michael, a good friend, Eileen and I have watched the first 8 episodes of Season 1. We are caught in its tractor beam...we love it.

From the opening episode, it's addressing various forms of discrimination. Seems this ages-old practice is not limited to Earth. This new series does what some science fiction does - it uses its story lines and characters to serve as a mirror to our current civilization (or lack of civilization).

If this kind of storytelling interests you, you can watch all 10 episodes of Season 1 for free on Prime UNTIL JUNE 30. Thereafter, Season 1 and 2 are moving to Paramount +.

Season 2 just launched during Pride Month.

If you’re concerned about time, each episode is about 45 minutes. You can save a little time by pressing the “skip intro” on-screen button. And, for those who don't like to waste time, here’s a place to deposit the time you’ve saved:

Preparing for our Journey to the Stars...Ad astra...

I selected this Salon article for its effective handling of various forms of discrimination as portrayed in the current and former versions of the Star Trek franchise. It'll help us appreciate what's being presented to us: past and present...and future...

Captain's Personal Log: A friend recently remarked that my "Happy Further's Day" post seemed different from others. Here's the essence of my reply to him:

Because of the subject matter, it was a very easy post to let channel through me. See, it originated from a text I had sent to our son that morning - in which I thanked him for all the ways he had helped me go further. Other posts, like those where I'm first a STUDENT of something I've not previously considered...with these, I often rely on others with more experience to say what I'm trying to say...and then build my post around their offerings. I'm doing that here by using the piece to form my "warp core."

I'm also recently practicing WAITING...WAITING...until the inspiration to continue drws me back to the keyboard...

"Drawn...not driven..."

In her article, Ms. McFarland mentions this episode from year 3 of the original Star Trek series. It aired on Jan. 10, 1969.

--In the episode, the Enterprise encounters two survivors of a war-torn planet, each half black and half white (though on opposite sides from each other), each committed to destroying the other.

The episode guest-stars Lou Antonio and Frank Gorshin.

Excerpts from article (with some adds):

Outdated Federation and Starfleet laws are called into question

One element of recent "Star Trek" chapters that I've appreciated is their willingness to question the ways the Federation and Starfleet fail to live up to their vaunted utopian strivings. Inconsistent as "Picard" could be, it handles its hero's disillusionment with Starfleet's disinclination to take responsibility for massive moral failings, and his own, quite capably.

It will be fascinating to see how "Ad Astra per Aspera" plays in the longer term. Within the wider "Star Trek" legacy, it continues Gene Roddenberry's tradition of holding a mirror to humanity in the present from the imagined perspective of our future selves.

Pre-"Discovery," the franchise was hesitant to confront racism directly – which isn't to say its writers were capable of doing that particularly well. The original's famously maladroit "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," with its adversaries whose faces were painted white and black on opposite sides, is kindly remembered as well-intentioned and poorly executed.

Within the wider "Star Trek" legacy, "Ad Aspera per Aspera" continues Gene Roddenberry's tradition of holding a mirror to humanity in the present from the imagined perspective of our future selves. At least it tried.

Among the second generation "Trek" titles, it fell to "Deep Space Nine" and Captain Benjamin Sisko, the first Black commanding officer to star in a "Star Trek" series, to specifically take on anti-Black discrimination with the sixth season episode "Far Beyond the Stars" in 1998.

But the Brooks-directed "Far Beyond the Stars" doesn't veil its aims. Sisko hallucinates that he's a Black science fiction writer in 1953 named Benjamin Russell working for a magazine called Incredible Tales. He and a female staffer are discriminated against at work; among other slights, he's banned from taking part in a staff photo because, as his boss explains, "as far as our readers are concerned, Benny Russell is as white as they are." He's also harassed by white cops who later end u killing a friend of his and beating him.

Eventually Benny Russell is fired for writing a story about Black space station captain – Sisko — triggering a nervous breakdown that snaps him back to the presumably more equitable 24th century.

--An extraordinary show, directed by Avery Brooks, it gave us a Prophets-inspired vision of 1950s science-fiction writer Benny Russell struggling to overcome racism and prejudice as he aspires to tell the adventures of Benjamin Sisko, who, centuries in the future, captains a certain space station.

The episode works on so many levels. It’s pure science-fiction. It’s fantastic Star Trek. It’s a showcase for Brooks as both a performer and director. article excerpts continue...

The Illyrians' struggles are similar to those contending with the material and psychological impact of anti-trans legislation, victims of antisemitic violence or families affected by the previous administration's Muslim bans, to cite three examples. Life in her childhood colony sounds a lot like the Jim Crow South, and the local government's solution is basically a resurrection of Apartheid.

It can't be accidental that Neera and the other Illyrian in this episode (besides Una) are played by people of color. Or that two of the Starfleet personnel directly involved with the trial are portrayed by Black actors – Admiral Robert April (Adrian Holmes) and a Vulcan judge (Eugene Clark) sitting on the tribunal.

These choices signal intent rather than specifically stating it.

"Slavery was once legal. Apartheid was legal," Neera says in her opening statement. "Discrimination against people for how they worshipped, how they loved, their gender, color of their skin, all legal at one time or another."

One gets the sense that we're not merely meant to absorb the surface meaning of those words.

We're supposed to read the room where she cites these examples before arriving at her conclusion: A law does not make something just.

"If a law is not just," she concludes, "then I ask: How are we to trust those

who created that law to serve justice?"

It will be fascinating to see how "Ad Astra per Aspera" plays in the longer term.

Governments and systems, and the people who most benefit from those structures governing bodies put into place, do not easily yield to voices that question their rectitude, especially when those structures claim to represent equality and an ideal way of life.

(end of excerpts)

" not easily yield to voices that question their rectitude..." old tale that's echoed in the classic "For What It's Worth"...

"Per aspera ad astra"

Also happens to be the state motto of Kansas...

Music for Space Travel

Gotta keep up my reputation for including tunes in my tales...So...

Last night Eileen and I watched Episode 7. It featured space pirates. This morning, before I went to the lake for our Tuesday Tai Chi adventures, I had a fragment of a familiar song in mind and searched for a song with "space pirates". Fortunately, Obi-Wise (Guru Google) took command of my ship's search engine and redirected my course to "Space Cowboy"...

...same message as in this tale's title...

...Repeated in case we didn't get the message before...

...Stay tuned in for these next installments...for "discriminating" audiences...

Jews in Space - 1: Humorists

Jews in Space - 2: Scientists & Musicians

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