Thwip!’s Sunday Soapbox – Muslims in Comics (and other media)

Thwip!’s Sunday Soapbox is all about us here at Thwip! headquarters to pontificate about what is right (or wrong) about the comic industry at the moment. Today we are going to talk about Muslim representation.

So the #travelban has been lifted and the Trump has been defeated…right?

Well actually, now is a great chance to bring Muslims into the even greater limelight – just being actual human beings.

In comics the mainstream (the big Two, but even Image and the rest are not any better) has elected to give us a few Muslim characters, but are they really being used for their full potential? Except for G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel comic (which is stupendous because it really talks about the struggles of balancing being a Muslim and a superhero in a very “liberal” world), all the other Muslims that we see (Simon Baz, Sooraya [Dust in X-Men] or M) in comics are kind of just there and their “Muslimness” is a bit like tassels on a stripper.

As a male, brown Muslim man, I find that while the woman’s struggle is important, this does not mean that us men are any less in trouble – Simon Baz’s Muslim troubles get taken away with a (metaphorical) wave of a magic wand and now he is just a generic angry guy. His partner, Jessica Cruz gets more exposure as an agoraphobic than he does as a Muslim man.

The main point is not to have him stop in the middle of a fight to pray, but to show how he can be both a Muslim and a hero. His family ties are tenuous at best and he feels more shoe-horned in than an actual character.

This is the same as movies and television, where there at best a handful of brown/South-Asian/Arab men – and who are so much a part of the American zeitgeist that their skin color doesn’t matter! (Which is awesome by the way, I don’t mind that they are just people, but at the same time, I kind of want a bit of ethnic flavor to be thrown in [but not stupidly, like Raj from The Big Bang Theory] (yeah I know he isn’t Muslim, but am taking the brownness and running with it).

Basically what my point is that America really needs to step up in terms of representation, whether or not they want to be ethnically diverse, but at least less white people on the screen would be nice right about now, and it feels that this is the perfect time to introduce them into the cultural consciousness.

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