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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Guldner

Shuri of Black Panther and Kamala Khan of Ms.Marvel. Two 16- year old girls stories we long to hear.

Updated: Nov 19, 2018

Shuri: Princess of the African Kingdom Wakanda.

Black Panther has shattered box office records and rightly so. Male whiteness has always been part of the cultural story in American cinema and media outlets.  After watching Black Panther the character who I loved the most was Shuri. Princess of the African Kingdom of Wakanda, genius, and a teenager? Confident and the force behind every invention in the Kingdom of Wakanda and still the only one to make her brother T’Challa smile. She works alone in her own lab, and she knows she is vital in her world.  A new type of Princess we have never seen before. Kamala Khan needs her movie too. Kamala lacks the assured confidence of Shuri because of her environment.

Growing up in two worlds so many of us who are first-generation Americans can contend with. Trying to navigate her home life and the cultural demands placed on her because of her cultural identity with her family and the “otherness” she feels inside and outside of her home having been born in America. Not to mention the cruelness of High School. Suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts she does not yet know how to handle isn’t it enough Kamla has to contend with being a teenager, Pakistani American in a post 9/11 world and now this?  Yet her story is as important as Shuri’s. To see a young African-American girl empowered, smart, confident, and assertive is so essential for other girls to dream that one day they can make an impact on the world too. But Shuri comes from a world that is not colonized, has never seen segregation, and who is surrounded by strong women and men. People who work together for the common good of their country.

Kamala Khan: Ms. Marvel's first Muslim character to headline her own comic book

Yet, Kamala does not have the confidence to be as assertive with her power like Shuri does, but because she has a loving moment with her father who tells her “Kamala means perfection in Arabic”. He tells her you do not have to be “someone else to impress anybody. You are perfect just the way you are” it gives Kamala the strength to fight the good fight and to not give up on who she is truly meant to be.  In order for young girls to believe in themselves as whole human beings, it is so important to hear other stories of girls who resonate with them. We need to hear stories of girls from all backgrounds. But especially from her socioeconomic backgrounds who have been repressed and degraded in the media since the beginning of the industrial revolution. We need more teenage girls stories like these two girls. I am still waiting for Kamala’s story to hit the big screen and I can’t wait to see what’s next for Shuri.

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