QUOTE OF THE WEEK 📜
It is not every day that I turn on the TV and find a character who eats the same foods, listens to the same music or uses the same Urdu phrases as me. What a joy to see Ms. Marvel reflect the lives of a Pakistani immigrant family and reveal a young superhero whose powers connect to her heritage. Thank you, Marvel and Disney+, and most importantly, Ms. Marvel. #MsMarvel
NEWS: NEED TO KNOW 🔎
It’s time to legislate, moderate & remove hate from online platforms 🛑 😡
A report entitled the Failure to Act, was published in April 2022 by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). It found that social media companies, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube, failed to act on 89% of posts that contained anti-Muslim 🕌 hatred and Islamophobic content reported to them. 530 posts containing anti-Muslim hate speech or content with images, videos, and messages on the social media platforms were viewed more than 25 million times.
Anti-Islamophobia marches on June 6, 2022, marked the one-year anniversary of the killing of four members of the Afzaal family, while out for a walk in London, Ontario. Students from schools across the city held walks to honor the family. The Youth Coalition Combating Islamophobia (YCCI) created a short video, entitled, "To Yumnah, With Love", in memory of the family. There are an estimated 1.8 billion Muslims in the world. Reports of anti-Muslim incidents have risen year over year in Canada (see map). According to the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the word "Islamophobia" describes:
the irrational fear or hatred of Muslims that leads to discrimination or acts of harassment or violence.
Toronto Pakistani-Canadian interracial influencer couple demystify Islam on social media 🧕 ☪️ 🤲🏽
Will and Sana Saleh are a Toronto-based Pakistani-Canadian interracial couple with two children. They use TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram to educate more than 2.5 million subscribers in a lighthearted and humorous way about the dangers of Islamophobia and to dispel misinformation and misconceptions about Muslims. Will says their goal is:
to humanize Muslim people. Because unfortunately even I, growing up not as a Muslim, definitely vilified Muslims just because of what I had seen through the media.
Their story begins with Sana's parents saying no to her marrying outside of their Pakistani culture. Her parents changed their minds and accepted Will 5 years later.
After Will got laid off during Covid, Sana had the idea for Lala Hijabs, which are hand tie-dyed hijabs in vibrant colors and packaged with eco-friendly materials. The business grew quickly after people including non-Muslims asked about the colorful hijabs on social media. Like most successful online family businesses, Sana oversees branding, social media, and the website while Will designs and hand-dyes each hijab.
To sample their content, the coupled created an entertaining TikTok compilation, a longer video about how they met, and Q&A about how they are raising a mixed-race family.
PROFILE: DO WHAT YOU WANT ❤️
Iman Vellani is Ms. Marvel | REPRESENTATION MATTERS!! 😍💖 ✨ ⚡
Reading about 19-year-old Pakistani-Canadian Iman Vellani's journey from Markam (Ontario) to Marvel superhero feels supercalifragilisticexpialidocious if you're a Marvel fan or a minority who’s ever felt underrepresented and misunderstood. Vellani made her debut starring as a Pakistani-American teenager from New Jersey, playing Kamala Khan in Ms. Marvel, released on June 8. It is the first Muslim American superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
After stumbling on the Ms. Marvel comic, co-created by Sana Amanat in 2015, she fell in love with the brown character, Kamala Khan. Like most hardcore fans, she told Trevor Noah,
I felt like the comic was written about me, for me and only me.
Vellani even dressed up as Ms. Marvel for Halloween when she was 15. She heard about the casting call for Ms. Marvel through her aunt. Her mom encouraged her to apply after she felt wracked with fear of failure and imposter syndrome, and freaked out when she was offered the part.
She grew up very disconnected from her culture and was focused squarly on Hollywood over Bollywood fandoms. Ironically, she said, working with brown creators on the Ms. Marvel set in LA, helped her reconnect to her roots and family:
So now that I’m here, and I’m working with so many incredibly talented Muslim and South Asian creators on and off screen – and they’re so in touch with their roots, and they’re so proud of their culture.
Vellani shared in an interview with The Juggernaut how the script captured everyday language and expressions used by every Muslim families like "Bismillah" (In the name of God), "MashaAllah" (What God has willed), and "Inshallah" (if Allah wills it).
Here's how fans reacted on the Ms. Marvel Instagram page about having a character from their community representing them as the lead star in a major film release:
She represents us,and a lot!!!!😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖
LOVED IT!! As a Pakistani I can say I can relate to Kamala. My sister and I were laughing about all the scenes. REPRESENTATION MATTERS!!
Love the seldom seen side of this slice of American/Pakistan culture.
This is going to be a huge turning point on tv and a massive weight on someone so young to have the first female muslim superhero represented. What an amazing step forward. Well done Disney and good on you Iman!
I watched all the credits today, not for the end credit scene but actually for all the Pakistani n other south Asian names in those credit … #inclusivity matters
RESILIENCE HACKS 💪🏾 ✌🏽💯
When self-care fails you, turn to community care ⌛❤️🩹
Self-care is the buzzword of the pandemic. What happens when self-care isn't enough? Are you supposed to suffer alone, curl up in a corner, cry and just disappear until you feel ok?
Abeni Jones, a trans woman of color, artist, educator, writer, and designer writes that when we apply self-care:
We’re taught that we have all we need, that the power for transformation and thriving is within us, just waiting to be harnessed. That we alone can beat back the demons plaguing us and come through to the other side refreshed and ready to fight again.
Paul Napper and Anthony Rao define agency in The Power of Agency, as:
The ability to act as an effective agent for yourself — it requires getting your mind, body, and emotions in balance to think clearly, advocate for yourself, and make choices that create positive things in your life.
Psychologists refer to the inability to make good decisions due to mounting stress as the main reason for the loss of agency. The authors quote a 17-year-old high school senior describe a typical day:
Nearly every minute of my day, everything I do isn’t what I care about.
Nakita Valerio, an award-winning Canadian writer, researcher, and Muslim community organizer, tweeted:
Shouting “self-care” at people who actually need “community care” is how we fail people.
Valerio says community care involes:
People committed to leveraging their privilege to be there for one another in various ways. … They (the care providers) know that when they will also need care in the future, others will be there for them. It’s about being there for people without them having to take the initial first step.
If someone you know has lost their agency, an important question to ask is:
How can I best support you?
Community care makes it possible for a friend to stand with you when you are suffering alone. You realize you might need community support when yet another self-care bubble bath, massage or whatever it is you do alone, no longer works.
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If you're a young person of color and specifically Muslim, this week may have felt unusual. Anti-Islamophobia marches on June 6, 2022, marked the one-year anniversary of the killing of four members of the Afzaal family, while out for a walk in London, Ontario.
Then 19-year-old Pakistani-Canadian Iman Vellani, who went to Unionville High School (so did Hayden Christensen) in Markham, Ontario, became the first first Muslim American superhero 🦸🏾♀️ in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). And the global media covered this positive Muslim story! 🙌🏼
Vellani, like most first and second-generation immigrant teenagers, who love American pop culture, wasn't cool or popular and felt very disconnected from her culture growing up. With no role models that looked like her, she didn't see how being Muslim or Pakistani would help her succeed in pursuing an arts career in integrated media at OCAD. She's from a family of pragmatic professionals. Her mom's a nurse practitioner, her dad's an accountant and her brother is an engineer.
Every teenager yearns to find a community they can belong to and call their own while figuring life out. Often, they find it through a fandom like comics, music, movies, or by attending an Avengers-themed fan convention (spoiler alert) like the character, Kamala does with her friends in Episode 1.
Zoe Fraade-Blanar, the co-author of Superfandom, says:
The cool thing about participating in a fandom like the Avengers is the diverse group of people you meet from different backgrounds. Without knowing it, you bond around your shared interests and passions. The doing and experiencing part of a fandom helps to break down barriers because strangers who regularly "geek out", embrace their differences quickly and become friends.
The most important part of a fandom is experiencing it together. That's both online and in-person. It's all the special and intensely satisfying moments and memories, with people who become some of your closest friends for many years.
In future issues, we'll cover Indigenous creators and how humor brings different people together. If you have a story or a topic for a future issue, don't be a stranger. Reach out by hitting reply.
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Have an awesome week!
Publisher and Founder, Spinning Forward
Tw: @flaviandelima IG: @flaviande