How does the text (or texts) you have chosen represent race or culture?
In the comic book “Ms. Marvel” written by Marvel Comics, goes beyond the cultural boundaries. It had allowed the protagonist in the comic to discover who she is; and change the view that her family and friends had of her. The protagonist became a heroic figure and a heroine in the comic. Ms. Marvel have been a positive role model for young girls with whom they can embrace their identity with. Young girls do not have to lose themselves and their religion for the sake of being accepted by society. Kamala’s upbringing was different than her friend’s upbringing. They were Americans and she was a Pakistani.
Ms. Marvel’s character in the novel is a young girl from Jersey, she is American – Pakistani. She is struggling to find her inner being. Kamala was brought up in the American culture all her life but were raised by Muslim parents. Ms. Marvel parents were culturally strict, nurturing but overprotective of her with her very religious brother that prayed all day to Allah. With Ms. Marvel being raised in a Pakistani home and living in an Americanized society brought great struggles with her trying to find her identity. The racism that is considered American in the eyes of Kamala is of whomever she wants to be aligned with is an impression that being American is symbolic to certain characteristics and that is of Captain Marvel. She tells the original Ms Marvel, “…….I want to be beautiful……I want to be you.” (Marvel Comics, 2014).
Kamala is infused with the environment of her Muslim cultural heritage from her parents and her older brother. She is infused with the rituals, food and the constant prayers of her brother. She wants to be a part of something were race and culture is not the common factor in the matter. Kamala wants to be like any ordinary teenager that can go out and party with their friends, but her parents are protective of her. When she went to the party her peers shunned her out because they were not used to her being in that type of environment and they knew what her parents stood for. Throughout this comic the writers chose a traditional storyline to help readers understand the crisis of many migrants in the United States. Kamala’s friend Bruno that is spoken of countless of times throughout the comic is an Italian. Her father love Bruno because he is hard working, he works and make good grades in school. However, her parents will never agree to their union in marriage because they are both of different cultures, she is Pakistani, and he is Italian. They would want to keep the Pakistani blood line heritage. In the comic, readers will see the cultural importance of the Pakistani culture. Her parents ensured that she attended Muslim classes, stayed out of the presence of men, kept her dignity, respect and nobility. That is why her father did not want her to go to the parties were a lot of males will be drinking. Also, she was restricted to types of food. She carried pakoras to school for lunch and was stuck with bizarre traditions and holidays. Kamala was looking from the outside into the American culture and wanting to be part of it because all of her friends were taking part in the festivities and she had no one to tell her that she is not missing anything in that part of the American culture.
Kamala and her brother came from the same cultural background, but they are totally opposite from one another. Her brother is embedded into the culture at the point where he prayers all day to Allah and it is annoying the father. “Aamir, if you don’t stop praying long enough to put food in your mouth, one day you will starve to death.” (Marvel Comics, 2014). It was to the point where the father started to get feed up with the praying because the son was not working, and he is not trying to find a job. On the other hand, Kamala is trying to find her identity within her culture, because at this point she is does not know who she really is. The writers want the readers to know that a person can be judged by embracing their cultural heritage more than another person, for instance, Kamala’s older brother. And that one can be lost in finding themselves while still upholding to their religious upbringing.
In addition, Kamala found a primary escape in video games, comic books superheroes and fanfiction. There she is in her Terrigen cocoon where she meets three of her favourite superheroes which are Captain America, Iron man and Captain Marvel. During this time, she told Captain Marvel she wanted to be like her “beautiful and awesome and butt-kicking and less complicated” (Marvel Comics, 2014). Kamala could not maintain, control and handle the super powers that she had gained when she became a younger version of Carol Danvers for the first time in her Ms. Marvel costume. “Her intersectionality is read as monstrous, but Kamala’s acceptance of her identities shifts the meaning of that monstrousness. Rather than her powers representing deformity or horror, they represent the flexibility and adaptiveness of intersectional identities” (Linton, 2018). The writers want the readers to understand that Kamala is a typical girl that was a nerd over fanfictions and their favourite superhero. Who wanted to become like Captain Marvel, her hero accepting herself and her qualities. In Kamala turning into the superhero give her the revelation that she does not want to lose her identity and her religious identity for the sake of being a hero. It is not a norm for females to be comic fans and nerds, but Kamala has totally distorted that norm and has become a superhero herself to save New Jersey.
Along with culture race was a major part in this comic as well. Kamala was always discriminated by Zoe her friend. Zoe is a tall, blond, beautiful and she is super popular at the high school. She will always make sly remarks concerning Kamala’s culture. Nobody’s going to like honour kill you? I’m concerned.” (Marvel Comics, 2014). The description of Zoe’s physical appearance is what is called beautiful or pretty in the American society. Kamala knows right from wrong and she knows the rules that her parents had taught her about being around men and drinking. Kamal final realizes Zoe appreciation and friendship to her. She final notice that her friends felt superior to her. The realization hit her when she went to the party and how openly Zoe insulted her amongst their friends. Her friends did not welcome her with open arms even though they knew how strict her parents were and how adamant she was to come to this party to hang out with them. “Muslims were figures of orientalist imagination: always characterized as Arabs and depicted in stereotypical dress and manner, with dark skin, turbans, large moustaches, and often riding carpets or camels” (Pumphrey, 2016). The lack of knowledge that Zoe had for her friend culture was noticeable. Kamala turned into the superhero that she always wanted to be. She then became the tall, beautiful and blond superhero like her idol Captain. Marvel.
By Kamala accepting who she is as Pakistani – American, give the readers a good example of embracing who you are. You should never be ashamed of who you are and where you came from. Your race and culture are what defines who you as a person, without race and culture you will have no self-identity. Giving up your identity is not worth losing to fit into a crowd where you are not wanted.