Is Buffy Summers Totally Racist?

Principal Wood: Talk like that is taken pretty seriously where I come from-

Buffy: The hood?

Principal Wood:Beverly Hills. (“Help”)

Buffy is our beloved Slayer, champion of helpless girls everywhere. And yet, her speech patterns reveal a disturbing trend. She mocks Kendra’s language skills several times, imitating her accent, speaking to her in mangled Spanish, and otherwise treating her as inferior or a clichéd foreigner. She acts as if she has nothing to learn from Kendra, while she more eagerly adopts Faith’s lifestyle.

Around demons (the metaphorical “other” of Sunnydale) she’s likewise flip, even toward the proven “good” demons. “I don’t trust you. You’re a vampire,” she tells Angel. “Oh, I’m sorry, was that an offensive term? Should I say ‘undead American’?” (“When She Was Bad”). At this point Angel has proven himself an ally and saved her life. He’s certainly trustworthy, and taunting him about eying her neck as Buffy (along with Xander) does seems as cruel as taunting a recovering alcoholic. But Angel never feels he can drink animal blood in front of her, and Buffy acts disgusted whenever Spike tries. Even ensouled, they will always be “other.”

Buffy calls Riley a racist for his view of all demons as bad, but Buffy is much the same. We only ever see one token “trusted” demon aside from Angel, Spike, and Anya (who all become part of the Scoobies and therefore insiders). This is Clem, foisted on Buffy by Spike in several Season Six episodes before she has conversations with him. All other demons must automatically be killed—there are no innocents in Buffy’s endless battles. While most vampires eventually turn on Buffy, Spike’s trustworthiness in seasons five and six suggests vampires can rehabilitate. An Angel has shown us many nonviolent demons. Ironically, the Initiative does more to explore this question than Buffy ever does.

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Filed under Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Pop Culture

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