Race and Racism in Science Fiction
The question of race and racism is a perfect venue for science fiction. Science fiction allows us a way to look at this question far more carefully and in different ways. In shows like Star Trek we can try to imagine what a world might be like where we had moved beyond racism, in shows like Battlestar Galactica we can examine what it means to be human. In many others we can examine the idea of how we might interact with other species.
Yet the truth is that science fiction has made some good steps in large part it ignors some of the most natural implications of the things it studies. The most obvious example of this is the assumption in movies and TV that racism between species is wrong. The problem with this is that unlike racism between humans who are all genetically similar, racism between two races that have no biological connection makes far more sense.
Take for example a species that while mentally similar to us required a different atmosphere? Would it then be acceptable to say that they should have different schools, restaurants, etc... Would we be able to integrate a culture that did so? Would it begin to look like the south with racism spring up or would the different reason for these attitudes lead to a different result? I don't know the answer which is why the question is so important to as, so why doesn't more science fiction examine this part of the question?
One answer is that it's not a reasonable comparison so not useful, but I say that by making the arguments better we can have a discussion that allows us to examine the ramifications more carefully. We can also give ourselves that necessary distance that allows people to discuss things more closely.
The second reason is that it makes people uncomfortable to talk about race. This is to bad because it shouldn't. As someone who doesn't care what race you are I shouldn't be uncomfortable to admit that there are people who do any more than I should be uncomfortable talking about the Nazi's. I'm not a Nazi, I don't agree with them.
There are of course a few shows that deal with race, but perhaps the most direct confrontation of the subject was in alien nation. From 1988 it dealt with a race of aliens who came to earth and upon being allowed out of quarantine faced racism, but this show is 20 years old.
So, can a science fiction show today have a reasonable look at the parts of race and racism that make us uncomfortable or has modern social sensitivity made it to difficult to have an honest discussion?
(Even writing this idea down made me uncomfortable and I have certainly tried to avoid anything that could be insensitive, but that's part of the problem now isn't it. I mean no offense, only want to open a discussion yet fear the conversation.)