Growing up Black, queer, fat, femme and cisgendered artist in the United States required a strategy for survival -- which I adapted from a complex love-hate obsession with television and film. These mediums can express huge concepts, but also, underrepresent the art and perspectives of Black folks as well as other artists of color who must strategize around the longevity of their voice within multiple mediums.
In life, I strive to balance the complex guidance I gained as a devoted fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In fictional Sunnydale California, I learned it is possible to create change and, in the process model different practices. More important -- sometimes the difference in those practices, the multiplicity, is exactly what is necessary for success. Yes I do realize that we lost good ole Sunnydale in the end, but in order to face what was next (* referring to the TV series but I also have further thoughts regarding the comics) it was crucial for them to recognize interdependence as a lifesaving strategy for survival. The “Scooby-Gang” of warriors, the legacy of slayers, and occasional aware beings of Sunnydale relate directly to people I know who interrupt dangerous expressions of personal, community and structural violence in order to achieve a different result for our lives. It’s what I often refer to as not using the “master’s tools”- (a concept delineated in an essay by Audre Lorde). No not the similarly named villain of seasons one and two -- I am referring to white, patriarchal, ableist supremacy.
So yes, a vampire with a soul and many other variations of being is crucial in having a wide range of practice and experience but, just as in the case of white supremacy, ignoring the behavior of how any being may go about getting something they need from you can be lethal.
Survival that comes at the cost of others’ existence will not sustain a community-wide long term strategy. However, this can become a living practice of learning to trust, exercising honesty, and valuing the impact we have on each other. This is especially important when we seek to turn the tide toward the arc of justice and unlearn oppressive behaviors we still impose upon each other. This is a daily reality that many people engage, so if you need inspiration, know that it has been done before. Yes, it has even fallen apart before (after all, none of us live on tv). Assessing lessons learned allows us to gain a clearer picture of how to interdependently tackle the challenges we currently face.
Surviving and unwinding the impact of isms and phobias that have expressed themselves in physical, verbal and emotional violence takes work. Doing this together in a community means that we get to have expectations of each other along with having boundaries, we get to support our personal change along with building space that addresses and dismantles falsehoods designed to divide our humanity. (Nope, being a vampire doesn't have to erase your humanity.) If we continue to miss opportunities to not only express but also celebrate ourselves and the differences in each other, we will continue to minimize our collective potential. Yes, I realize this is a very humanistic point of view, but, I am committed to working on where I need to grow further in anticipation of vampire-aliens and more.