Ms. Marvel And The South Asian Diaspora

I am so happy that young South Asian girls have Ms. Marvel on their tellies, tablets and phones.

I am so happy that young white kids watching Ms. Marvel will see views of Karachi and get an idea of Pakistan beyond the racist tropes peddled by the Western media. Beyond the murder porn of US drone footage.

I cried when Kamala talked to her nani and heard her say this:

Nani says: "My passport is Pakistani, my roots are in India. And in between all of this, there's a border marked with blood and pain. People are claiming their identity based on an idea some old Englishmen had, when fleeing the country."

If you’re Irish, you know what partition means, why it was carried out and the consequences for a once-united country. If you’re South Asian, you carry that same understanding and many, many families will have their partition stories. (I mean, let’s face it, there are very few countries that haven’t been sucked dry by the ravenous British Empire. It’s more common weal than commonwealth, amirite?)

Ms. Marvel is a wonder for the way it handles tone-shifting, moving from real history to Marvel mythology and back again without insulting or cheapening the actual events.

But the bestest thing is that Ms. Marvel is a bright, chirpy kids’ show. It has moments of pure silliness, as it should. It is joyful, it’s not some bleak sermon about South Asian oppression, it’s a celebration of our cultures, home and away. It is soooo rare for us to see South Asian families represented, let alone as the centre of a fantastic superhero origin story. There are plenty of grim stories about South Asians and, yeah, we need justice and we need to hear about injustice but, fuck me, could we be allowed to be HAPPY and DANCE and be YOUNG and STUPID and have churi-enabled magic powers?

I’m so happy that I, a middle-aged Indian immigrant living in Britain, can see this show which makes me cry and laugh in equal measure.

But I really, really wish that me in the ‘70s, a little brown kid growing up in a succession of white towns had been able to see himself on TV, too.

I would have been a lot less lonely.

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