Kamala Khan


Do you like superheroes? Many people like these stories of people with special powers. Robin Basselin and Colin Lowther look at a new superhero from Marvel, a superhero who is surprising many people.

Watch Video

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Robin Basselin.

Voice 2 

And I’m Colin Lowther. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

A man climbs up the side of a building. A red mask covers his whole face. He shoots a thin rope from in his hand. He uses it to fly through the sky. He flips and soars through the air. It is Spiderman!

Voice 2 

Spiderman is famous all over the world. There are many Spiderman movies and television shows. But Spiderman began as a character in a comic book. Comics are magazines that tell stories in pictures. Writers create characters called superheroes. These characters use special powers to defeat evil.

Voice 1 

Marvel is one of the largest comic book companies in the world. It is based in the United States. But hundreds of millions of people around the world read Marvel comics and watch Marvel films. Marvel is so successful because people love superheroes! Superheroes give people hope. And they raise important questions. What do we want to be like? Who can be strong? And what does it take to be powerful? Today's Spotlight is on one of Marvel's newest superheroes – Kamala Khan.

Voice 2 

In 2014, Marvel released a new comic book series. It is about a superhero named Kamala Khan. Khan is a 16-year-old girl. She lives in Jersey City, a large city across the river from New York City. In some ways, Khan is like many other Marvel superheroes. As a young adult, Khan recognized that she has special powers. She can grow and shrink parts of her body. She can also change her shape into different forms. And she uses these powers to fight evil.

Voice 1 

But one thing about Khan’s character is historic. Kamala Khan is a Muslim. Khan is not the first female, Muslim superhero to appear in a Marvel comic. But she is the first Muslim superhero to have her own Marvel comic series!

Voice 2 

Many people are excited about Kamala Khan. They enjoy reading about her character. And they also believe she will help fight negative stereotypes about Muslims. In the United States, some people have negative stereotypes about Muslims. Many people think these fixed ideas about Muslims are true. But stereotypes do not represent the true life or beliefs of all Muslims.

Voice 1 

In the United States, many people began to form negative stereotypes about Muslims after September 11th, 2001. On this day, Muslim terrorists flew airplanes into the famous New York World Trade Center buildings. Thousands of people died during this tragic event. And after, many US citizens began to fear Muslims. Some news organizations began to represent Muslims in negative ways. And soon, negative stereotypes about Muslims began to grow.

Voice 2 

G Willow Wilson is the writer for Marvel's new Kamala Khan comic. As an adult, Wilson became a Muslim. And later, she married a Muslim man. She knows well that some people in the United States have a very strong stereotype of Muslim women. Many people believe that all Muslim women are victims. They think that Muslim men rule oppressively over women. And they believe Muslim women lack power or control in their lives. This stereotype does not represent Wilson’s life. Wilson is a strong and independent Muslim woman. And she wants her two daughters to be so as well. So Wilson was excited when Marvel asked her to write the comic series for Kamala Khan. She told the BBC,

Voice 3 

"It was important to me to have a female Muslim character that could be a positive example for people. We are so used to seeing in the news that Muslim women are oppressed and need saving. I wanted to change that. I wanted to make a story in which the Muslim woman tells the story of her own life."

Voice 1 

Like all superheroes, Kamala Khan is involved in saving the world with her superpowers. But, she also has other, real life struggles. Khan is the child of immigrants who have moved to the United States from Pakistan. She is the first generation of her family to be born in the United States. So she has to balance two different cultures. On the Marvel website, Wilson says,

Voice 3 

"Like a lot of children of immigrants, Khan struggles between two worlds: the family she loves, but causes her problems, and her friends, who do not really understand what her home life is like."

Voice 2 

Sana Amanat is the editor of the Kamala Khan comic. She hopes that Khan's story will help people understand the real lives of Muslims in the United States. She talked with the New York Times about Khan’s family life. She explained,

Voice 4 

"Her brother is extremely traditional. Her mother is afraid that Kamala is going to get pregnant. Her father wants her to concentrate on her studies and become a doctor."

Voice 1 

Khan’s family life may be different than many other young people in the United States. But in many other ways she is like most other young girls. She wants to go to parties. She is not sure her parents understand her. She wants people to like her. And she wants to find her own path in life. These are things all young people can relate to. And when non-Muslims read Khan’s comic, they can begin to recognize that Muslims are just like them.

Voice 2 

But not everyone agrees that Khan’s comic will change negative stereotypes. In fact, Leon Moosavi fears the comic will strengthen negative stereotypes about Muslim men. Moosavi is a writer and university professor. In a story for Al Jazeera news, he wrote,

Voice 5 

"Is Khan really a strong Muslim woman? Or is her story only a tool to confirm a stereotype of Muslim men - that they are oppressive and need to be restrained?”

Voice 1 

Shelina Janmohamed is a British writer and Muslim woman.  She believes that Khan is clearly powerful. And she sees much good in this. In a story for the Telegraph news organization, she wrote,

Voice 6 

"Khan's very existence as the lead superhero makes room for the discussion about how America sees power - who can have power, and who has the right to be powerful. Do Muslim women have the right to be powerful? Khan begins to move our answer toward 'Yes.'"

Voice 2 

Do you think Kamala Khan can change people's ideas of who can be powerful? Will she help Muslims and non-Muslims understand each other better? Tell us what you think. You can leave a comment on the script page of this program.

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Jen Hawkins. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “Kamala Khan."

Voice 2 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!

Question:

What is your favorite superhero or comic book character?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
georgino
said on July 28, 2014

Good idea, would be to begin a new life between muslims
After many years in war
Would be heroes of a future for your sons.

Great topic

Avatar Spotlight
dunguyenduy
said on July 29, 2014

I like to watch Marvel’s films. It’s amazing. I’ll read the comic about Khan.

Avatar Spotlight
Mykola
said on August 01, 2014

Hi there!
I don’t like to read any comics, but movies I like :)
However your stories are informative and help to learn English

Avatar Spotlight
AwesomeGuy
said on September 08, 2014

I’ve never read this comic before, but I hope that it will change negative stereotypes about Muslims in America.

Avatar Spotlight
Giant
said on January 12, 2017

Kamala Khan is a candle in the darkness, but the real fact of this darkness is the absence of science and knowledge in theThird World , not only Muslims . Removal the darkness and oignorance in these socaities needs a huge efforts, let Kamala Khan to be a spot light . Thank you spotlight.