Alina Jafri: Ms Marvel

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Like many young people, Alina Jafri had trouble finding a role model, until she discovered one in an unlikely place.

As a kid, you usually have a role model or someone you look up to. It's most likely fictional characters from a popular movie franchise or from your favorite story books. This character is someone who inspires you to dream big and makes you feel like you could be just like them.

Growing up, I never had that. No character reflected my story. I was a Pakistani-American girl who had big dreams, aspirations, and all I could find in my movie collection and on my bookshelf were the usual stories of white girls falling in love with their princes, which are great! But I was never fully confident in myself because the stories of girls who look like me were never really acknowledged.

Around my freshman year of high school, I discovered the comic book series of the superhero Ms. Marvel, the story of an out-of-place Pakistani-American girl who turns into the superhero of Jersey City.

Comic books are not exactly the trendiest with teenage girls. In fact I had never opened a comic book until this one but Ms. Marvel was special— she represented me.

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Even though I was much older when I discovered my “fictional role model,” it was the most incredible feeling. It was the first time in my life where I could read the pages and say, “She is just like me.” I felt like a proud little girl and I ended up buying every single book.

I even introduced my little sister to Ms. Marvel, and she fell in love with the series. It’s nice to watch her feel like a superhero every time she reads it. Every child should have that experience.

This circumstance growing up has shown me that representation is important. The older generations of minorities never got to see themselves in the superheroes of their childhood. In film and media, the stories of people of color were not being told for the longest time, and it affects how society sees them as well as how they see themselves.

This paperback comic book showed me that as a daughter of immigrants, I am strong and I am powerful. It is not a blockbuster movie or award-winning novel, but it is a start to society acknowledging people who look like me. One step at a time, and who knows, maybe the little girls and boys of the future will see Ms. Marvel on the big screen.

With a Perspective, I'm Alina Jafri

Alina Jafri recently graduated 12th grade from Santa Clara High School. Her Perspective was produced as part of KQED’s Youth Takeover week.