Pakistani teenager Aitzaz Hasan died Monday after tackling a suicide bomber trying to enter his school. By sacrificing himself, he saved the lives of the 2,000 students studying inside. Hasan’s father says, "My son made his mother cry, but saved hundreds of mothers from crying for their children.“
This is bravery. This is selflessness. This is true courage.
Other people’s POC profiles have helped me a lot with my understanding and character development so I thought I would contribute as much as possible. I am a 21 year old Pakistani girl born and brought up in London. My grandparents moved to the UK soon after getting married and my family has been here ever since, the culture dissolving with every new generation. Throughout my teenage years I was very detached to my identity and it was only three years ago - when I discovered Tumblr - that I became aware of my internalised racism and understood my prejudice through the whole social justice posts.
My mum is a very very fair Pakistani and during her teenage years, she could have easily passed as a white girl. To the dismay to the rest of her extended family, she married quite a dark-skinned man and ended up with brown kids. I’m pretty sure I first wore fair and lovely bleaching cream at around age 10, being sick to death of all the “kaali” (black) comments made. Looking back it absolutely disgusts me but at the time, I was too young to realise how appalling it was. It took a long time to embrace my skin and to wear foundation that actually matched my skin tone rather than about four shades lighter in a rubbish attempt to be white-er because that equalled pretty. Now I make sure to call out anyone when they insult my skin (“how will she ever get married, poor girl?”) because quite frankly, I look my brown-ness. There’s also the standard of being tall and thin but honestly, none of them affected me like my skin did.
Culture, Religion and Language
Like all other immigrants, when my grandparents came to the UK, they held on as tightly as possible to their culture to prevent losing it. Ultimately they were holding on so tight they didn’t realise how much of it was completely against their religion and now we are stuck with a lot of customs (especially at weddings) that are against Islamic teachings and are rather copies of Hindu rituals. Slowly my immediate family is becoming more religious rather than cultural which is very important to me but at the same time, we’re losing the Pakistani parts too. My mum wears Salwaar Kameez all the time but at home I wear pyjamas and outside I wear skirts and stuff. We eat roti (chapatti) and salan (curries) but we also eat a vast range of other foods from different cultures. It’s changed a lot now, in fact my mum didn’t taste a pizza until she was in high school! I don’t speak my language (apart from a few choppy words with poor pronunciation) and I can barely communicate with my grandparents. When I was younger I thought I was a lot cooler than some of my cousins as both my parents were born in the UK and theres weren’t but now I can see that I was using White-ness as a standard I was trying to gain.
I’ll never be white enough for British people and never brown enough for Pakistani’s.
Despite the fact that London is massively diverse with all sorts of racial backgrounds, I somehow managed to end up in a class in university of twenty white people and myself. There isn’t anything wrong with this of course, it just makes me feel a little alone sometimes. Not only am I the brown girl, I’m also the Muslim girl with the thing on her head. ‘Can I touch that? How do you do your scarf? How long is your hair? Do you even have hair?’ and my personal favourite ‘Do you wear that thing in the shower?‘
It’s very hard being a token to other people. Especially with all this crap going on in the world where the idiot killing people is Muslim, I seem to have a lot of people ask me questions as though I’m the Muslim encyclopaedia. It means I have to learn my religion inside out which, although isn’t a bad thing, makes me hyper-aware of everything I do. If I be rude to someone or lie a lot or whatever, it will be the thing they constantly judge all Muslims or all South Asian people for. That really sucks. We don’t have much individuality.
What I’d like to see more of: Accurate Depictions of London POC
One thing I really hate in stories set in London, is the abundance of white characters and maybe some random-ass 2D black character in the background. Apart from my university class - which is just a weird accident - I have definitely met more PoC than white people! Obviously some areas are more white than others but there will always be a range of different races. Where I live there are loads of Jamaicans, Indians, Somali and Polish people. Some areas will have two main races, for example Hendon in North London is practically Afghan on one side and Orthodox Jew on the other. So writers with all white characters in London are deluding themselves. Our national food is curry for Gods sake!
Our slang also relies a lot on other cultures and dialects. For example there are a lot of words from BE (I see you call it AAVE on here but I’m assuming that’s American?) because they become ‘cool’ from music and media as well as other words in different languages. All my non-Muslim friends say wallah bro? after everything, meaning ‘I swear to God’ in Arabic and a lot of them say salam when they see me, shortened from the Arabic phrase as-salamu alaykum meaning ‘may peace be upon you’ which is the Muslim greeting. I’m sure there are others but I’ve probably written too much already. Sorry if this is too long and I hope someone can find it helpful! :3
Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, who is 17, has become the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. So a Pakistani teenager literally can change the world, while American teenagers literally can’t even.
The new Ms. Marvel hits comics stores next month and I am *so* excited to see G. Willow Wilson’s take on the character – who’s now a second-generation Pakistani-American teenager named Kamala.
Wilson spoke to Wired about the process of creating Kamala and making her a shapeshifter.
Polymorphs have a very interesting history in comics, though, because they’re most often bad guys. They’re painted in a negative light because their powers are considered somewhat sneaky compared to the classic power sets like being strong or flying or shooting lightning bolts. So when we decided to make her a polymorph, it was very fraught because she can use her powers to escape what she sees as the conflict in her life between her family and faith and being an American teen …
The entire makeup of the United States is starting to change. There is more fluidity. There are many more people now who are the children of multi-racial, multi-ethnic families. We are starting to grapple as a nation with this idea of fluidity. In more than one way, this is a character whose time has come.
Recently, Kamala Khan has been announced to be the new Ms. Marvel. Not only that, but she is also a Muslim, Pakistani-American teenager, living in New Jersey. Naturally, this has been met with some degree of controversy. Let’s take a step back and try to put a few things in perspective. Much of this post contains my thoughts and experiences as a Pakistani and as a Muslim. These thoughts do not necessarily reflect the thoughts of these groups, nor is it my intention to do so. Rather, I hope to provide my take on this new series.
Growing up in the United States, I wasn’t surrounded by a large Muslim population or a large Pakistani-American population. The vast majority of my family remains in Pakistan and India, even to this day. I’m a first generation American, born to immigrant parents who eventually became U.S. citizens. My childhood was hectic at times, having to deal with fluid living situations and my parents’ employment. I must say that under the circumstances, my parents were absolutely phenomenal (and extremely fortunate). Their number one priority was to make sure that my siblings and I were provided for.
I point all this out for a reason: we were never completely able to integrate ourselves into the Muslim or Pakistani community. Let me provide some examples:
The first Muslim I met outside my family wasn’t until I was 8 years old when my neighbors moved in.
The first Muslim I went to school with wasn’t until I was in seventh grade (around the age of 13).
The first Muslim I became close friends with wasn’t until I was in college (around the age of 18).
My experience living in my neighborhood and attending school involved being surrounded by predominantly white, Christian people. Anyone who sticks out among a crowd can tell you that it doesn’t feel all that great. Flip open my elementary school yearbook, look for my class, and guess who pops out (spoilers: it’s me).
Of course these people were my friends. Of course I had friends that weren’t Muslim/Pakistani. I’m not saying this was inherently bad, by any means. I am saying that not having someone to identify with on some level outside of family is a very difficult (and isolating) experience. This is particularly true after an event like 9/11. As kids, we spend a solid 6-8 hours at school away from family and so we’re forced to function socially. As a Muslim kid after 9/11, dealing with people (both children and adults) who made racist blanket statements about a group of people that included both me and my family was both painful and stigmatizing. Losing friends because their parents don’t want their kids to hang out with “a kid like me” makes it worse.
For years, I felt obligated to be apologetic for events that were in no way related to me, other than the fact that it involved people who were from the same part of the world as me. So in dealing with a post-9/11 world with literally no positive representation in any form of media, what is a Muslim, Pakistani kid to do? Besides lower their self-worth.
This is where a character like Kamala Khan comes in. A Pakistani-American Muslim teenager who is also a superhero. A character that isn’t reduced to being the villain in every single American film. A character that doesn’t rely on worn out stereotypes. A character like me. A character like other people who went through the same childhood I did. A character like a lot of people who haven’t dealt with the harsher realities of life quite yet.
I know there was some feelings of uncertainty about how it’s strange that Kamala is getting a lot of attention that other Muslim characters haven’t gotten in the past (Faiza Hussain, Monet St. Croix, Sooraya Qadir, etc.) and how she isn’t the first Muslim in comics. I don’t think it’s good to approach it with that attitude. I think in viewing Kamala, she should be looked at as adding to the mix and diversity of positive representations of Muslims. She is not the epitome of all Muslims or all Pakistanis or all teenagers. She’s a superhero who happens to be Muslim.
And to be honest? That’s a dream come true. I, for one, will be walking into my comic shop one week from now to pick up my copy of Ms. Marvel (okay, more like my six copies but whatever). I hope that others consider doing the same and welcome Kamala Khan into the Marvel universe with open arms.
Pakistani teenager Aitzaz Hasan died Monday after tackling a suicide bomber trying to enter his school. By sacrificing himself, he saved the lives of the 2,000 students studying inside. Hasan’s father says, ”My son made his mother cry, but saved hundreds of mothers from crying for their children.”
This is bravery. This is selflessness. This is true courage.
why isnt this all over the worlds newspapers this is truly amazing!!!!!
Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai just became the youngest Nobel Prize winner in history.
Yousafzai and Indian children’s right activist Kailash Satyarthi were awarded 2014 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.
Yousafzai, 17, and Satyarthi, 60, were chose “for their struggle against the oppression of children and young people, and for the right of all children to education,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said.
Malala Yousafzai and Zayn Malik make UK Asian power list
Culture Secretary Sajid Javid has topped a list of the most influential ethnic South Asians in Britain announced Wednesday, beating Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and One Direction singer Zayn Malik.
Javid, a former banker who rapidly rose through the ranks in Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party, was to collect his award at a ceremony in London later Wednesday.
Judges of the Power List, compiled by the Asian Media and Marketing Group, put Pakistani teenage education activist Yousafzai second. The 17-year-old won the accolade last year.
Opposition Labour lawmaker Keith Vaz, who heads parliament’s influential Home Affairs Committee, came third, while 1D vocalist Malik came 10th.
Judges said Javid earned the title for being the only South Asian voice in the upper ranks of government and for his commitment to “opening the cultural doors for all Britons in the UK”.
Javid said: “Culture is more than a privilege. It’s at the core of who we are and how we define ourselves.
"If you’re not engaged with our cultural life, you’re not engaged with our national life. And in 2014, too many Britons are culturally disenfranchised.”
Javid’s father Abdul arrived in Britain from Pakistan in 1961 with £1 in his pocket.
Kalpesh Solanki, managing editor of the Power List said it recognises the achievements of “exceptional individuals who have excelled and broken through barriers”.
Some 3.0 million people, or 4.9 percent of the British population, identified themselves as being of South Asian origin in the 2011 census.
So excited that Marvel’s first Muslim super heroine Ms. Marvel GOES TO MY HIGH SCHOOL and LIVES IN MY CITY. This character and comic is so important. The fact that I can recognize these characters and recognize my city and the diversity within in it is important. A lot of times when we have conversations about representation, those who are reluctant to it view diversity as a kind of wishful thinking. The characters in our comics, TV shows, and movies are all white and cis and hetero because “that’s just how it is.” But what this comic really reflects is that representation isn’t about creating something out of nothing - it’s about reflecting the world that we actually live in. If we can imagine an infinite number of white, blonde-haired girls with super powers, why can’t we imagine a Pakistani-American, Muslim teenager growing up in a culturally diverse city with super powers? Is it really that much of a mental leap?? So proud that my city and old high school gets to play a role in this moment.
Jersey City stand up!!
and thanks to my former English teacher Ms. Smith for the photos!
First Appearance: Ms. Marvel Vol. 3 #1 (2014) by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Stephen Wacker, and Sana Amanat 
Who is she?
Kamala Khan is a brand new superhero with a devoted fanbase. She is a Pakistani-American teenaged heroine from Jersey City, and the first Muslim Marvel character to star in her own ongoing series. Still in high school, Kamala is the daughter of immigrants and struggles to reconcile her heritage and home life with the expectations (and sometimes prejudices) of her non-second generation American classmates. Kamala Khan herself is shown to be a massive geek and even writes her own Avengers fanfiction online.
Kamala’s origin story goes something like this: during the events of the Marvel summer crossover Infinity, Black Bolt unleashed the Terrigen Bomb. The Terrigen Bomb enveloped Jersey City (and the whole world) with Terrigen Mists. On that night, Kamala was sneaking out against her parents’ wishes to go to a party. Terrigen Mists activate the latent power hidden with humans with Inhuman ancestry. Kamala Khan was one of these latent Inhumans, and when she was exposed to the mists, she underwent Terrigenesis and developed super powers. Inspired in part by her faith and the values she gained from her family, Kamala decided to set out and become a hero protecting Jersey City just like the superheroes she idolized. The alias “Ms. Marvel” comes from her adoration of Carol Danvers, or Captain Marvel, in particular, as Ms. Marvel was one of Carol Danvers’ previous code-names.
What can she do?
Kamala Khan is a polymorph capable of manipulating her body and appearance. She previously was able to shapechange, similar to Mystique, but recently lost those powers as her abilities have matured. She can enlarge, deform, stretch, or otherwise alter any part of her body at will. Some examples of how she uses this power include “embiggening” her fists to fight, or stretching her legs out to cross distances faster. She also possesses a healing factor, although healing tires her out and restricts her ability to use her polymorphic abilities.
Where is she now?
The best place to follow Kamala Khan’s adventures is of course in her very own series, Ms. Marvel! The comic is currently 11 issues deep, and has been collected in one trade so far, “Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal” with “Ms. Marvel Volume 2: Generation Why” slated for a March 24, 2015 release date.
Is the new Ms Marvel the same as Captain Marvel by Kelly Sue DeConnick? o.o
No! Captain Marvel is still being written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, and it was just added to Marvel’s Now! line. Captain Marvel is Carol Danvers, a former US Air Force pilot and current Avenger.
Ms. Marvel is being written by G. Willow Wilson, and the first issue just came out. Ms. Marvel is Kamala Khan, a first generation Pakistani-American, a Muslim teenage girl struggling to find her place in the world, and part of that is her idolization of the Avengers, including Carol. 8)
Consider checking them both out, but please give Kamala a chance. She is a rarity in modern comics: a female of color written by a woman. The art is beautifully matched to the story, and it rings true. There are people out there who are upset by Marvel putting their time, money, and effort behind a female led book, especially because they are not pandering to the male gaze with her powers, her outfit, or her personality. We need to counteract that, and continue to encourage the creation of heroes for every person, every child.
Consider finding a local shop and picking up a copy, or buy a digital copy here at Comixolgy:
Okay so this is the first comic I've ever fanboyed about. I love it beyond belief, but there was something that irked me a little. In "Why Kamala Khan is Important," you mention that Kamala is a superhero who happens to be Muslim. What should we be focusing on? In my mind, the fact that she is Muslim and a teen and a girl is the bigger picture; her superhero-identity is the addon. It seems more appropriate to me to refer to her as a Muslim teen girl who happens to fight crime. What do you think?
One problem in referring to her as a “Muslim teen girl” is that it narrows (and maybe oversimplifies) Kamala’s identity. Kamala is a teenager, a Pakistani-American, a Muslim, and a superhero. All of these facets contribute to who Kamala is as a person, without which we’d lose an integral component of her character. I think it might be a bit unfair to weigh one more than the others. While we’ve only had two full issues so far and we know that Wilson intends to tell a decompressed story about Kamala, one of the key themes of the series is forming an identity based on one’s experiences. Sana Amanat’s recent TedxTeen talk summarizes it well:
“She’s still figuring out that journey to her authentic self, but all she knows is that she does not want to be limited by the labels imposed upon her. So really, Kamala Khan’s story is everyone’s. It’s about confronting the labels you’ve been assigned, sculpting them and redefining them until you figure out who you truly are and what you actually believe.” (video)
It’s important to remember that it isn’t for us to define these parts of Kamala. What it means to Kamala to be a teenager, a Pakistani-American, a Muslim, and a superhero is something that can only be addressed by Kamala. At different points in Ms. Marvel however, we do see certain parts of her identity shine stronger than others.
Kamala: Can I go to a party tonight? Yusuf: Where? Kamala: On the waterfront. Yusuf: With boys? Kamala: Yeah… Yusuf: Very funny. Kamala: Come on, Abu! I’m sixteen! I promise I won’t do anything stupid! Don’t you trust me?! (from Ms. Marvel #1)
This entire interaction between Kamala and her father is one that many teenagers can empathize with, regardless of gender, race, or religion. Having concerned parents who don’t want us staying out late at parties with people they don’t know? I’d say that’s an experience most of us know all too well (or at least have an experience that’s relatable).
Muneeba: LATE-LATEEF BHANGI! Your cousin’s mehndi started an hour ago!!
Kamala: The mehndi…I completely forgot! Muneeba: You were supposed to be in the bridal procession! You have humiliated the entire family! (from All-New Marvel NOW! Point One #1)
When Kamala is late for her cousin’s mehndi, readers get an insight on just one aspect of dealing with the duties and responsibilities that go along with being a Pakistani-American growing up in New Jersey. It’s important to notice that Kamala’s reaction to her mother’s phone call wasn’t blatant disregard. Kamala was upset and guilty that she had forgotten while dealing with all her superhero activities. She accepts that it’s a part of her life, even if there are parts of it that frustrate her.
Kamala: There’s this ayah from the Quran that my dad always quotes when he sees something bad on TV. A fire or a flood or a bombing. ‘Whoever kills one person, it is as if he has killed all of mankind—and whoever saves one person, it is as if he saves all of mankind. (from Ms. Marvel #2)
There are many ways that Wilson could have established Kamala as a Muslim character, like focusing on things she can’t do like drink alcohol or date boys or eat pork. Yes, these things are discussed in the comic and relevant to her life, but instead of dragging that along, Wilson introduced this ayah. In the past decade, I’m sure one could sift through newspaper articles and find hundreds of out of context quotes from the Qur’an that attempt to strengthen an argument against Islam. The ayah quoted in these panels, however, probably stands out to many readers. It’s a side to being a Muslim that many don’t get the opportunity to consider. It’s one thing to simply remember the quote, but an entirely different thing to take action based on it. Kamala saves Zoe, despite the comments made to her during the party (and any past interactions with her). Her experience as a Muslim, combined with attributes such as her compassion for others, was illustrated in this whole ordeal.
From the Point One issue, we know that Kamala will eventually choose to wear a mask instead of altering her appearance entirely, despite being capable of doing so. As Amanat said, Kamala is sculpting her own identity, shaping it into the Kamala Khan she wants to be. She’s on her own journey to determine just who she is, while we get to go along for the ride.
If you’re interested in hearing more about the direction that Ms. Marvel is taking, I highly recommend watching the Q&A with G. Willow Wilson!
You know who I never hear enough about on this website??? Ms. Marvel aka KAMALA KHAN! Not only is she a regular Pakistani-American, Muslim, teenaged girl (which is a lot of things we don’t see enough of in comics), but she is adorable and cute and WRITES AVENGERS FAN-FICTION and like ships things!!! She is a treasure and needs to be discussed more you guys!
I didn't realize how important representation was until I heard about the new Ms. Marvel. She's a teenage Pakistani Muslim girl. JUST LIKE ME. I got so excited about this, and I realized that having a role model like that as a child would have been so nice. EVERYBODY deserves a moment like that.
YES. Those moments are so great! Little victories, I call them. I like to savor them because they are rare and they feel SO GOOD.