Come Mourn Sineya with Me
I have no speech. No name. I live in the action of death, the blood cry, the penetrating wound. I am destruction. Absolute ... alone.Like many young women of color, I too watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer (mostly because we didn't have an equivalent...and still don't). In season four's episode of "Restless", I - like many other women of color - was joyful to meet Sineya, the First Slayer, a girl born and raised in Ancient Africa (but I, like many other women of color, didn't understand why in the preceding episode her spirit had to be invoked in Sumerian...um, WTF?). I was honestly glad to see her touted as the First of the Chosen, and that her mystical origin and history all truly did trace back to the beginning.
~ Sineya, the First slayer (from BTVS: "Restless")
We don't fully learn about Sineya's origins until the seventh season, and by then, Buffy's audience had gotten used to seeing one major slayer of color after the other and yet even another get killed off.
So naturally, come season seven, the all-white writing staff were more than comfortable ignoring a certain few key fails while creating the First Slayer.
1) She has a name (Sineya) and her official title would probably be "the First Slayer" and yet...she's consistently referred to as "the Primitive." This is justified by [white] writers and fans in that she "lost her humanity" when fellow humans rejected her for her superhuman ability (after she saved their asses from a vampire...because that's how the Ancient Africans would treat a supernatural savior, you know...at least according to white folks). On the Buffy Wiki, the writers confidently state:
...these incredible supernatural powers came with a terrible price: she lost her humanity forever. She was a powerful yet pitiful creature caught perpetually between sanity and madness.2) When we finally meet her face to face in "Restless", she has no voice or linguistic abilities of her own, so cue conveniently handy white girl to step up and speak for her.
3) White girl ragging on black girl's appearance. Gotta love an oldie. From the Buffy Wiki:
...she [Buffy] mocked her ancestor for her stubbornness and her dishiveled, savage, utterly inhuman appearance. It was then that Sineya realized that she was defeated and vanished from the dreams....*sigh*
Indeed...there are times I honestly do want to smack Joss Whedon, though I will admit such times are rare.
The seventh season also brings about an icky white feminist moment when Buffy goes back in time-ish and beats up the Shadow Men (the African shamans who created the Slayer line), and gives a self-righteous speech about how they had no right to "violate" the First Slayer, "that girl...whoever she was before she became the First Slayer." Because apparently the alternative (you know, sitting back and watching demonkind off humans like child's play) was much better than arming a woman with superior physical abilities so she could protect humankind.
*cue fountain of vomit*
So mourn with me, people, not for this fictional character per se, but the world she was written into. Mourn with me the hands which wrote her, and mourn with me the idiot population that was too blind to see the real violation going on here.
Place her right up there with Demetri and Zoey.