Marvel Comics recently set the comic book world abuzz after announcing the rebirth of Ms. Marvel, one of their most-famed female superheros, as a 16 year old Muslim American suburbanite named Kamala Khan. Khan, a Jersey City resident born to Pakistani immigrants, has the power to shapeshift her body. While this isn’t the first time the world has seen a female Muslim superhero, or a Muslim American superhero, it does mark Marvel Comics’ first attempts at a series with a lead Muslim protagonist. This change will undoubtedly be welcomed by many in the Muslim American community given the mostly one-dimensional portrayal of Muslims in mainstream media and art since 9/11.
While portrayals of Islam and Muslims have always been rather shallow, research indicates that they have been particularly defamatory and offensive in recent decades:
- Amir Saeed. 2007. “Media, Racism, and Islamaphobia: The Representations of Islam and Muslims in the media”, in Sociology Compass 1(2): 443-462
Research also shows that post 9/11 discriminatory policy and stereotyping has had a profound negative influence on the identity formation of Muslim American youth and young adults:
- Sunaina Marr Maira. 2009. Missing: Youth, Citizenship, and Empire after 9/11. Duke University Press
- Nadine Naber. 2012. Arab America: Gender, Cultural Politics, and Activism. NYU Press