by Drew Baumgartner
This article contains SPOILERS! If you haven’t read the issue, proceed at your own risk.
The song I’d like to do for you is a song that I had the pleasure of doing when I was 15 years old…it’s a song that will last, unfortunately, for a long, long time. And when I say “unfortunately,” I’m talking about the fact that it will always be relevant to something that is going on in this world of ours.
Stevie Wonder, introducing “Blowin’ in the Wind”
Love, loss, betrayal, greed. There are a number of timeless themes we might trace back to the earliest stories we can find. But there are other themes, just as timeless, that have not always been featured in our stories in this same way — themes kept so out-of-sight that some people refuse to acknowledge that they exist at all. Of course, for the people actually affected by those timeless truth of oppression, it is simply a part of life. If we are any more aware of those themes in this day and age, it is only through listening to the people who actually experience them. As ever, G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel presents a frank account of what life is like for a young muslim woman in America, bringing hard truths to those of us who might not see them, otherwise.
There I go, centering this story around my own experience of it — one largely based on ignorance of these issues. But I can’t speak for the power seeing this story might have for a muslim reader. Fortunately, the take-away for a white, western reader is profound. For those readers, the realization that anyone might betray them because of their race or religion isn’t even a going concern, let alone a regrettably essential part of a coming of age story.
It’s the kind of lesson that can only come when a person you grew up with suddenly decides your very identity is criminal — not the kind of thing white people ever experience in this country.
But that heartbreak at the betrayal, the sense of utter hopelessness at the state of the country, that’s definitely something a lot of people experienced in the wake of the election — many for the first time. But for others, that feeling is simply a part of life, a bitter truth learned in childhood. The timelessness of that lesson may make it a banal (if sad) matter of course for those readers, but seeing Kamala learn it here stopped me cold. Moreover, while Kamala wins the day, Wilson doesn’t let her forget the sting of this lesson:
“Bittersweet” doesn’t do it justice, both because there’s relatively little “sweet” and because “bitter” isn’t exactly the right word — she’s simply been confronted with a truth she hadn’t had to consider before. It’s unsettled her deeply, and she’s brought us along with her. It’s a beautiful that will last, unfortunately, for a long, long time.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?