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Episode 69: Rahim Buford

In this episode we speak with Rahim Buford. Rahim was serving time in prison, and he began to appreciate Star Trek and it helped him think about himself and his future in a whole new way. Rahim is now out of prison and works toward ending mass incarceration, restorative justice, and building communities.

Rahim Buford sitting in a chair
Rahim Buford


  • Growing up in Nashville
  • Presenting on Star Trek at the STLV convention
  • Rahim’s difficult childhood experiences and family life
  • Being arrested at as a juvenile
  • Being in “survival mode” in juvenile detention
  • Rahim’s Grandmother passes away
  • Committing robberies and getting charged and convicted on Felony Murder
  • Is “harm for harm” just?
  • Searching for identity in prison
  • Star Trek TNG happened to be on TV in the prison
  • TNG leads Rahim to have a different state of mind
  • Using Star Trek to understand life
  • Picard’s appeal in the episode Justice was very powerful for Rahim
  • Knowledge is currency in prison, according to my guest
  • Enjoying Star Trek had to be done in secret at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution
  • After release in 2015, Rahim began his work in the community on behalf of the incarcerated. Rahim felt that Star Trek influenced his choices.
  • The Boldly Go 100 initiate
  • Going from the prison cell to the stage at the Star Trek con
  • Rahim performs his spoken word poem “Who Am I?”
  • The four types of justice
  • Justice cannot always restore people fully (Content note: Mentions of murder and rape)
  • My guest considers if prison rehabilitates
  • Rituals of restorative justice
  • Learning the term “sentient being”
  • Courtroom scenes in some episodes remind my guest of his own court visits
  • Worf predictions for Picard Season 3
  • Rahim reflects on some childhood experiences (Content note: Mentions of domestic violence)
  • Rahim felt a strong connection with Worf on searching for this father
  • Prison is like going to a new planet (Content note: Abstract mention of a racial slur)
  • The Klingon Elders in some Star Trek episodes resonated with my guest’s experiences in prison with some of the older inmates
  • Trek isn’t just entertainment for Rahim. It gave him a new way to think about his life.
  • My guest draws a parallel between the social death of being imprisoned to the social death that Worf experiences in his discommendation
  • My guest learned about his father from his half-siblings who were also in prison
  • The Sito Jaxa redemption story meant a great deal to my guest
  • Rahim realizes that he is like Jaxa, in that he had also done wrong but was worthy of a chance at redemption
  • Rahim credits Star Trek with giving him the inspiration to lead an aspirational life
  • Trek leads us to harsh truths about the current world
  • Honorary Star Trek title awarded: Federation Representative to the Khitomer Conference
Rahim Buford holding his book
Rahim and his book

Episodes Discussed

  • Justice TNG S1E08
  • Measure of a Man TNG S2E09
  • Birthright Part 2 TNG S6E17
  • Redemption Parts 1&2 TNG S4E26 and S5E01
  • Lower Decks TNG S7E18


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Would you like to write some Kobayashi Maru lightning round questions? If you’d like to submit some for possible inclusion on the show, you can send me a message via Twitter or email me. I give some suggestions on good questions here.

Some portions of the Kobayashi Maru lightning round questions in this episode were written by listener Adam Saunders. If you’d like to submit questions for possible inclusion on the show, you can send me a message via Twitter or email me. I give some suggestions on good questions here.

Background photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash