Colonized Psyches | Through a Mother’s Eyes by Robin Bond

Colonized Psyches | Through a Mother’s Eyes by Robin Bond | Collaborators – Editor Sam Brown, Title Craig Herbert

Walking down the street, I held my daughter Ryan’s hand. She looked at my arm, then at hers, and told me that she didn’t like her colour. She wanted to be mine.

It didn’t really surprise me when she said it; she had mentioned it a few times before. She’s also told me she wants green eyes and hates her gorgeous, nearly blonde curls that most women would die for.

I’ve told her so many times how I used to tan my pale skin darker, destroy my hair with styling products and hot curlers to have what she came by naturally. I have longed for the clear depth of her chestnut eyes in my own dull emerald.

This moment though, was especially sad for me. I’ve had the privilege of growing up white and never really understood the implications of that.  I have, in the past, argued many times that there is no privilege and that these days everyone is viewed equally.

Then, my light skinned, blond-highlighted, curly haired, chestnut eyed mixed children went to school and my viewpoint changed.

I have never understood how such an insanely intelligent and gorgeous girl could have so many doubts about her looks at only 5 years old.

Finally, we reached the park.

A mass of children of every race and ethnicity were playing. From amidst all of this, my son Michael walks off the soccer field in tears. His brown skinned friend explains hastily that Mikey had accidentally tripped a boy while playing, and the child reacted with anger.

‘He’s saying the n word and f word to Mikey’ he explains.

‘Like THE n word?’ I asked, confused.

He says yes, acknowledging that I knew exactly which word he’s referring to.

How ignorant was I for thinking that my mixred children would have it as easy as I did.  How Inconsiderate of me to compartmentalize Ryan’s insecurities by focusing on tanning beds and curling irons.

I have to ask this question;

Why is Ryan convinced that pale skin, blonde hair and green or blue eyes is the answer? Why isn’t she saying “Mom, why can’t I just be Korean?” or, “I wish my hair was darker or shorter?” or, “Why can’t I have Daddy’s skin colour?”

Here’s Why—

White Privilege.

The cultural curse that says you aren’t beautiful because your skin is tinged with darkness; the inherited prejudice that tells children to hate themselves because they aren’t that “ideal” colouring.

Kids see it and—more importantly—they feel it. The most innocent and naive creatures in this world see this shit and respond with self-loathing.  How are we so stupid? How can we let a single image of beauty or “normalcy” create so much pain? How can we pretend white privilege doesn’t exist?

I told Mikey this morning before school that if anyone ever refers to him as the ‘n’ word to say

‘Sure, maybe I am? That’s what they called my great-great-great grand and gram too. Only stupid people think a single word can conquer someone. It’s just a word, made up by people who were so ignorant they didn’t know how to farm, cook or even nurse their own babies. They used that word to make other people do it all for them.’

Ryan will be a lot harder. She’s only five years on this earth, and a lifetime of ancestral grief trickles through her, damaging her barely formed self-image.

I can’t change the world’s view on what beauty is, but damn do we have it twisted.

Xander Rising: Why Xander Harris is the unsung hero of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Xander Rising: Why Xander Harris is the unsung hero of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The powerless one. An incredible loser.  Idiot.These are a few of the insults hurled at Alexander “Xander” Lavelle Harris.

The Character Xander Harris is introduced at the beginning of season 1 Episode Welcome to the Hellmouth where him and best friend Willow Rosenberg accidently stumble into a world where the supernatural is not make believe. During the course of season one, we find Xander and Willow social outcasts.  As the seasons progress and we gain further knowledge, he is the child of alcoholic parents.  He is highly intelligent but lacks confidence.  Xander Harris is represents the everyday man. The ordinary man.  It would seem that he has nothing intrinsic to offer however, Xander is the glue that holds the group together.  He provides a common sense view of the world, balancing the superhuman strength of the slayer Buffy Summers and magical abilities of Witch Rosenberg.

First in this discussion I will discuss how Xander’s accidental presence in Buffy Summer’s life changes the course of history. Second in this discussion I will discuss how Xander does more then watch; he is vital to the team, however flawed in his own right making him a fully fledged character that errs. Last in this discussion, I will show that Xander’s informs the viewer that love conquers all.  Xander Harris has no supernatural power making him the most fearless fighter of the Scooby gang.  Xander’s ordinary ability lies in seeing and providing a common place viewpoint in a supernatural world.

Xander is the representation of what in historical terms would be known as the Jester.  The jester was considered one who is of divine.  Xander and fellow friend Willow ‘stumble’ onto this dark world that was all around them, yet they had always been situated in Sunnydale, California.  Xander Harris’ character is modelled after the classic the Jester character of the Shakespearean era.  Joss Wheaton, a notorious Shakespeare buff has taken the concept of the Jester, and modernized him.  The Jester is a licensed fool, able to do or say things unbecoming of anyone else and getting away with it.

‘His characteristic idiom suggests he is a “natural” fool, not an artificial one, though his perceptiveness and wit show that he is far from being an idiot, however “touched” he might be.’

The Season Finale of season one, Prophecy Girl, it is foretold that The Slayer would be killed by the being known as The Master.  Buffy, a young girl does not want to face certain death.  Giles is helpless in stopping The Master’s ascension and hesitates to tell Buffy that prophecy is certain and cannot be changed.

Buffy:  Don’t touch me! (to Giles) Were you even gonna tell me?

Giles:  I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to. That there was… some way

around it. I…

Buffy:  I’ve got a way around it. I quit!

Angel:  It’s not that simple.

Buffy:  I’m making it that simple! I quit! I resign, I-I’m fired, you

can find someone else to stop the Master from taking over!

Giles:  I’m not sure that anyone else can. All the… the signs



However, she cannot ignore the calling of the slayer.  She is drawn to the layer of the master only to find that it is her who releases him.

Master:  You tried. It was noble of you. You heard the prophecy that I was about to break free and you came to stop me. But prophecies are tricky creatures. They don’t tell you everything. You’re the one that sets me free! If you hadn’t come, I couldn’t go.Think about that!

Buffy then drowns in a pool of water. Angel is there but he remains helpless as vampires do not have breath, they are undead. It is Xander who is able to breathe life back into her.  This selfless act releases Buffy from predestined slayer line to become her own heroine on her own terms from hereafter.

Now, lets talk about the time Xander helped Buffy get a kickass rocket launcher. In the events of Surprise, Buffy and Angel consummate their love. However, the gypsy curse that plagues Angel is broken turning him into ruthless killer Angelus. Xander, utilizing his acquired army knowledge helps the slayer get a weapon forged that could kill the recently unleashed Judge.

Buffy:  Think I got his attention.

Judge:  You’re a fool. (cut to him) No weapon forged can stop me.

Buffy:  (cut to her) (lowers the bow) That was then.

Xander hands her the weapon from the box, and she raises the anti-tank rocket launcher to her shoulder.

Buffy:  This is now.

Here, Xander is instrumental in stopping the judge who has the potential to destroy all of humanity.  The slayer’s super strength would not have been enough to dismember the Judge.

The Zeppo. Is a seemingly stand alone episode in where Xander saves the day unbeknownst to the rest of the Scooby Gang. Zeppo Marx is the youngest and arguably most troubled of the Marx brothers. He was thought as the handicap in a group of talented actors and performers. (Side note, Frank Sinatra TOTALLY stole his wife).  During this episode the Scooby Gang is fighting a monster so dangerous that they leave Xander out in fear for his safety.  The title is taken from the ridicule he receives from Cordelia Chase.

Cordelia Chase, while ridiculing Xander says that he is the ‘zeppo’,

Xander saves the day. By himself. He is miscalculated and gives us the perfect one liner.

Cordelia:  Ooo, I struck a nerve. The boy that had no cool.

Xander:  I happen to be an integral part of that group. I happen to have a *lot* to offer.

Cordelia:  (starts to leave) Oh, please.

Xander:  I do!

Cordelia:  (stops and turns back) ‘Integral part’ of the group? Xander, you’re the, the *useless* part of the group. You’re the Zeppo. (Xander glances at Jack) ‘Cool.’ Look it up. It’s something that a sub-literate that’s repeated twelfth grade three times has, and you don’t.

During the events of The Zeppo, Xander discovers a plot to destroy Sunnydale high by a group of zombies led by Jack o’ Tool. Ironically, it would blow up in the events of Graduation

Xander:  I know what you’re thinkin’. Can I get by him? Get up thestairs, out of the building, seconds ticking away… I don’t love your chances.

Jack:  Then you’ll die, too.

Xander:  Yeah, looks like. So I guess the questionreally is… who has less fear?

Jack:  I’m not afraid to die. I’m already dead.

Xander:  Yeah, but this is different. Being blowed up isn’t walking around and drinking with your buddies dead. It’s little bits being swept up by a janitor dead, and I don’t think you’re ready for that.

Jack:  Are you?

Xander:  I like the quiet.

I like the quiet. Xander Harris.  Licensed Badass.

Xander Harris is not a perfect man. He often makes mistakes, becomes the butt of jokes and makes terrible decisions.  Magic is often used as metaphor that there is no quick fix to the everyday problems that arise out of life.  In Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, Xander is discarded by Cordelia Chase and mocked by the popular click at Sunnydale High.  This action sends Xander fuming as it would anyone.  He blackmails Amy Madison to help him put” her through the same hell” and action that backfires and has every women in Sunnydale after him. While it would seem that this would be the epitome of the teenage male, this botched vengeance scheme shows us the Xander’s frailty. These actions end up winning the heart of Chase.

Cordelia: I’ll date whoever the hell I wanna date. No matter how lame he is.

Xander’s hatred of Angel prevents Buffy’s knowledge of knowing about Willow’s cure. While created out of jealousy it allows Buffy to know that there is no cavalry coming to save the day.

Buffy:  Xander!

Xander:  Cavalry’s here. Cavalry’s a frightened guy with a rock, (holds up a large rock) but it’s here.

Buffy holds up a stake. He tosses the rock aside and takes it from her.

Xander:  That’s better.

Buffy:  You’re not here to fight. (starts walking) You get Giles out,

and you run like hell, understood? I can’t protect you.

I’m gonna be too busy killing.

Xander:  (looks at the sword) Now, that’s a new look for you.

Buffy:  It’s a present for Angel.

Xander:  Willow. (stops) Uh, she told me to tell you…

Buffy:  Tell me what?

Xander:  Kick his ass.

Willow would not discover that Xander changed her message to Buffy until Season seven, Selfless

Buffy: Do you remember cheering me on? Both of you! Do you remember giving me Willow’s message — “Kick his ass”?

Willow (indignant): I never said that—

Season six’s overall thematic concept is that the ‘real’ evil is not supernatural. The ‘Big Bad’ is life itself.  As corny as it sounds, season six is message is that we get by with a little help from our friends.  Buffy, is struggling with being back from another dimension while Willow is struggling with magic, now used as a metaphor for drug abuse. Every Character is fighting an ‘ inner evil’. The Trio, the big bad of the season, serve as representation that anyone can choose darkness over light. Even sweet overall wearing Willow.

Willow’s intended to use her power to fight the forces of evil.

Willow: Actually, this isn’t about you. Although I’m fond, don’t get me wrong, of you. The other night, you know, being captured and all, facing off with Faith, things just kinda got clear. I mean, you’ve been fighting evil here for three years, and I’ve helped some, and now we’re supposed to decide what we want to do with our lives. And I just realized that’s what I want to do. Fight evil, help people. I mean, I-I think it’s worth doing. And I don’t think you do it because you have to. It’s a good fight, Buffy, and I want in.

Buffy: I kind of love you.

Willow: And, besides, I have a shot at being a bad-ass Wicca, and what better place to learn?

She, like the trio urge to be something more. Giles hesitated to help willow discover magic and his fears are actualized in season six.  Willow turns down a dark path by using magic as a shortcut. Finally, the rage of having girlfriend Tara killed by The Trio, she looses control and becomes Dark Willow.

Willow: You can’t stop this.

Xander: Yeah, I get that. It’s just, where else am I gonna go? You’ve been my best friend my whole life. World gonna end … where else would I want to be?

Willow: Is this the master plan? You’re going to stop me by telling me you love me?

Xander: Well, I was going to walk you off a cliff and hand you an anvil, but … it seemed kinda cartoony.

Willow: Still making jokes.

Xander: I’m not joking. I know you’re in pain. I can’t imagine the pain you’re in. And I know you’re about to do something apocalyptically (glancing back at the statue) evil and stupid, and hey. (spreading out his arms) I still want to hang. You’re Willow.

Willow: (angry) Don’t call me that.

Xander: First day of kindergarten. You cried because you broke the yellow crayon, and you were too afraid to tell anyone. You’ve come pretty far, ending the world, not a terrific notion. But the thing is? Yeah. I love you. I loved crayon-breaky Willow and I love … scary veiny Willow. So if I’m going out, it’s here. If you wanna kill the world? Well, then start with me. I’ve earned that.

Willow: (upset) You think I won’t?

Xander: It doesn’t matter. I’ll still love you.

Willow: (angry) Shut up.

The world is saved by the ordinary man. The everyday man.

As a result of the actions of Prophecy Girl, the calling of other slayers, Xander’s actions inadvertently allow Summers to know that the Slayer Line, created by the shadow men can be tampered with.  This allows the transfer of powers in the final episode, Chosen.

Buffy: In every generation one Slayer is born because a bunch of guys that died thousands of years ago made up that rule. They were powerful men. (Points to Willow)This woman is more powerful than all of them combined. So I say we change the rules. I say my power should be our power. Tomorrow Willow will use the essence of this scythe, that contains the energy and history of so many Slayers, to change our destiny.

In this discussion I have argued that Xander Harris is in part responsible for liberating Buffy Summers from the slayer line. This intervention is more than watching – he intervenes. I have discussed Xander’s character traits, including is bad ones making him a fleshed out character who errs in judgement. I have argued the frailty of his psyche in part caused by his upbringing.   I posit that the true meaning of season six is overcoming your personal demons with the help of your friends. Linking the first and seventh season, Xander’s original intervention allows Buffy to know that the slayer line is flexible and bendable to human will.




The Dark Battle

Full Disclosure; Shirley Manson is one of my childhood heroes. There’s a special weakness in my heart for women who rock hard – Joan Jett, Debbie Harry and the like. But I digress.

I recently read an article regarding the beautiful and talented redhead rocker. In this interview, she’s frank about Garbage’s rapid ascent to fame and her personal battle with body dysmorphia.  I was flabbergasted to read that a women who I had idealized as the ideal hard edge rocker struggled with body image.  She was on magazines, DVDs and countless interviews.  After James Bond ‘ The World is Not Enough’ Garbage had shot to international fame.  In her interviews she seemed just so (excuse my French) fucking cool that I figured nothing bothered her. Like she was made of adamantium.

When I returned to the music it was all too apparent

I only smile in the dark

My only comfort is the night gone black

I didn’t accidentally tell you that

I’m only happy when it rains

I’m only happy when it rains, (Garbage, 2005)

You choke behind a smile

A fake behind the fear

The queerest of the queer

Queer (Garbage, 2005)

Super stardom did not erase her pain. In fact she channeled it into her work and masked it.  In 2012 the band was finally able to go solo and released Not Your Kind of People on their on label STUNVOLUME, Producing music on their own terms  without the record machine.

Ms. Manson is fearless in her exposed nature they write ‘ Battle In Me’

 It’s a bloody war of attrition

Let’s see which one of us is going to last the night

‘Cause I have all of my wits around me

And I’ll be damned if I’m done

Battle In Me, (Not Your Kind of People, 2012)

We can never truly know the dark battles people fight inside their souls.  But we keep on rocking regardless.

Keep Swimming

In 2005 lead singer Andrew McMahon, (formerly of Something Corporate) was about to drop his new project under the name Jack’s Mannequin as he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. His illness is foreshadowed in his music.

She thinks I’m much too thin She asks me if I’m sick What’s a girl to do With friends like this.

  • Holiday from Real. (Everything in Transit, 2005)

McMahon was saved by a bone marrow transplant from his sister, Katie.  He documents his illness and recovery in the documentary Dear Jack, the title of the song as well as the non for profit charity.

His following LP, The Glass Passenger he pens Swim regarding his experiences and for anyone who is struggling with Cancer or another illness, you have to Swim – you haven’t come this far to fall off the Earth.

This story has a beautiful ending or rather continuation. Almost 10 years after beating his cancer, Andrew and his long time girlfriend have just given birth to a little girl Cecilia Kate McMahon.

Yeah you’ve gotta swim
Don’t let yourself sink
Just find the horizon
I promise you it’s not as far as you think

-Swim (The Glass Passenger, 2008)

Andrew McMahon new album Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness drops October 14th. It’s lead single Cecilia and the Satellite is already out for airplay.


The New Black | Documentary by Yoruba Richen

20140617-083608-30968415.jpgAlthough Yoruba Richen‘s documentary focuses on the American Black Diaspora, it sends shock waves all the Canadian Shield. The New Black challenges the taken for granted belief that Black communities inherently carry more prejudice against LGBT as a result of religious affiliation. Further, she argues that framing the fight for LGBT rights as a civil and equality fight did not specially speak to the American black community.

In The New Black she notes how the Black community leader role of preacher/ minister role was distorted by conservative and new right infiltration. Specifically, she notes how Mormon and Catholic leaders donated money, power and by extension influence. When a black spiritual leader speaks about discrimination it is taken as gospel. She traces the historical significance of the role of ‘The Church’ as a social institution where Black voices were heard.  The Church was the base of the Black Civil Rights Movement and gave individuals space and place.

The fight for equality for this work centres on a few fighters and their goal to reach the public on a referendum in Maryland, USA. Their fight in 2012 was successful as a result of their campaign and fearless fighters like Karess Taylor-Hughes.

Central themes of this documentary speak to the sociological concept of intersectionality or how multiple systems of oppression work together.  While the mechanisms of control differ, the end result is the same. It is a frequent concept in Black Feminist Thought.

While I already knew the outcome of the 2012 battle for rights, Ms. Richen’s had my heart pacing until the end.  Although clearly influenced by a liberal and activist perspectives, the documentary presents a balanced viewpoint and interviews the opposing side to present both sides of the conflict.