I recently saw the Star Trek movie. Growing up I was a bit of a Trekkie - my family watched Next Generation reruns as far back as I can remember, and new episodes of both Deep Space Nine and Star Trek Voyager when they were on the air. When I was younger I enjoyed the shows without thinking too much about their social depictions of various races and genders, but lately I've felt frustrated with how ethnocentric the series is.
I'm not just talking about the fact that a universal translator allows everyone to speak in standard American English, and yet it allows people from some nationalities to maintain their accents, or about the womanizing ways of Captain Kirk. I'm not even talking about the low representation of black, Asian, and Hispanic characters, though I think that's a serious issue. For me, the strongest indication of the racist nature of Star Trek's vision is the representation of Vulcans and other non-human species.
I guess I've got to be a nerd if I'm complaining about something like that, but really, think about it - Spock is older, more experienced, and more disciplined than Kirk. When Spock becomes acting captain of the ship in this new movie, it only makes sense. And yet, everyone from Kike to a future version of Spock wants Kirk to take his place. Kirk's valor hasn't even been tested - all he's ever done is cause trouble and fight Star Fleet protocols, but this human is the one who "must" be in command? Even in an alternate reality, where the destruction of Vulcan and the death of Kirk's father has changed everything, Kirk still gravitates toward being in command, as if the Universe is determined to place a bold and rash human in authority.
I've never really understood why so few Star Fleet Captains and Admirals are anything other than human. After all, Vulcans live longer and are more intelligent. And what about other species? Vulcans look very similar to humans, so at least they show up in positions of high command, but nobody who is blue or greeen, or who has tentacles, or who in short looks different from the average white man or woman makes it into positions of authority. Not to mention the lack of homosexual and bisexual characters. What's more, few of those white authorities are women. When women are in positions of authority, they're often despised admirals, or members of alien species that are apparently more accepting of gender differences.
Star Trek Voyager handled multi-cultural issues better than many of the earlier shows, but even Tuvoc (a Vulcan who is also the only prominent black character on Voyager) never becomes a captain or even a first officer. When Janeway's white, human, male first officer dies, she replaces him with Chekotay. While Chekotay's presence is a reminder of the variation among human cultures, he is nevertheless a rebel who is propelled into a position of authority largely because of Janeway's instincts. It's only fair to note that these instincts go against her close friendship with Tuvoc, but nevertheless her gut guides her to place someone who is similar to her in a position of authority.
I could go on about this for awhile, but I have a feeling anyone who isn't familiar with Star Trek Voyager is already lost. Just suffice it to say that being human-like often appears to be the driving force behind who is put into positions of power in Star Trek's Star Fleet organization. This concerns me because, if we can't handle the idea of fictional people who are unlike us being in charge of a group that includes humans, then we probably have issues with others who don't look like us being in authority over us. I'll leave it to you to decide how true this is in politics, business, religion, etc.