Community News

Happy Juneteenth! StarBase 118 stands united against racism

As a Star Trek roleplaying community, we have spent time considering what – if anything – of value we can say about the protests of the last few weeks as a result of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others killed by police. We recognize that failing to say something as a community is an indictment of the values we share, which are rooted in the idealism of Star Trek. To that end, we want to acknowledge the importance of the protests against police brutality, led by the Black Lives Matter movement, in the fight for a better future. And, we want to reiterate that as a creative community, diversity is our strength.

In addition, we want to support our Black members, and other people of color in our community, as we recognize that this is a difficult and painful time to bear witness to the images of discrimination and violence. Fundamentally, we stand shoulder to shoulder with our friends, neighbors, colleagues, and peers who–in addition to facing that reality every day–are forced to endure this onslaught of painful and infuriating imagery as well.

For some, our game is an escape from that reality—a chance to imagine a more equal and just future, in a community where mutual respect and compassion are more than just buzzwords. For others, it is an opportunity to talk about their identity and share, through the lens of science fiction, stories of their lived experiences, their ancestors, and their hopes. We support both paths and want to do everything in our power to make our game a place where we can celebrate Black hope and joy.

Despite our ideals, we also know that roleplaying has often been a bastion of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other discriminatory behavior, against people from under-represented and minority backgrounds. As a long-standing community, it is our responsibility to be eternally vigilant in eroding those forces while focusing on creating a safe, shared space welcome to those who share in our values and seek the fellowship of community.

In aspiring to be antiracist, we want to share the measures we’ve taken over the last 26 years:

  • Our community’s foundational guideline, the UFOP Constitution, affirms our commitment to diversity and invites all to participate: Article V, Sec 1;
  • We have a zero-tolerance policy toward racism of any kind and have taken swift action in response to racist behavior;
  • Our command staff are considerate of simming being a shared experience, where stories have a real-world impact on players, and as a result take time to examine the ways representations of slavery, discrimination, and violence are portrayed and work to continually moderate them;
  • We continually explore ways to help our staff maintain cultural competence and sensitivity.

And, we also want to talk about some things we can do better. As the leadership of a community, we intend to open a discussion with our members about their ideas on what we can improve:

  • We collect no data on the racial and ethnic background of our members, and as a result, don’t have a good understanding of how many people of color move through our ranks toward command. We want to sensitively approach this topic in a way that respects those members who wish to maintain personal anonymity.
  • We want to better understand the experiences of our members on the path to community leadership, to evaluate how we can support people of color – who, like many others in our community, often choose to remain anonymous.
  • Representation matters, so we want to continue broadening the imagery used on our site and wiki to include more people of color. Although our members choose their own character portrait sources, we can do better in encouraging our members to consider creating primary characters and NPCs that don’t match their identities in a responsible and respectful manner, ensuring that we avoid stereotyping and instead celebrate the broad diversity of Star Trek and reflect that legacy of representation in our game.
  • We can do more to uplift the voices, stories, and faces of people of color as actors, characters, and writers in a similar way that we already do with LGBTQ people.

This list is not exhaustive and we’re always looking for suggestions for new ways we can enhance the experience of all members in our collaborative environment.

We encourage members to support organizations fighting for racial justice. This link includes a helpful list of organizations that need donations, especially now.

We encourage our members to read these resources on antiracism:

And we think our members might find these resources interesting reading about our hobby:

We invite our members to join us on the forums to talk more about this topic. Click here to head there now.

About Tristan Wolf

FltAdml. Tristan Wolf, real name Jordan, founded UFOP: StarBase 118 – a Star Trek Play By Email RPG – in June of 1994. He previously served as the Commanding Officer for a number of simming installations, notably the first of StarBase 118 Operations. He currently lives in San Francisco with his partner and their Humane Society rescue dog named Baxter. Jordan works in politics, loves scifi (natch), fantasy, and new technologies.
View all posts by Tristan Wolf

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