As a parent for two mixed race children, like most parents I am constantly on guard for what my children are exposed to. I scour Netflix to see if there are shows that don’t depict guns, fighting, and Barbie like figures in every show (a difficult task that I challenge anyone to take on!), knowing that these images will impact my children and their understanding of the world. War, unachievable standards of beauty, guns and violence are messages that are repeated in the media to sell products, but they also mould the minds of young ones. They are everywhere and my daughter who has yet to see a “princess” movie asks to be a princess for Halloween. It is difficult to find representations of womanhood, beauty, and warriors that I would be proud to show my children.
On October 10, 2014 Malala Yousufzai became the recipient of the European Union Nobel Peace Prize and I imagined another world for a millisecond. I imagined sharing with my children about Malala, a young Pakistani girl who has been an activist her whole life. How she wrote a book at the age of 16 with such determination and strength. I will tell them about her struggle against the Taliban in her home country of Pakistan, as a result incurring life-threatening injuries that have left her with a visible disability. I will tell my children that Malala won this prize because she fought for peace; she represented all young women in the world who are demanding equality and education. Malala’s powerful message to the world on the right to educate all children is a fight that puts all superheroes and Barbie’s to shame. Malala is a warrior that my children will grow up hearing and watching and I hope they will see her beauty, power, and capacity for change.
Malala Yousufzai I hope others will share your story for generations and that our children’s children hear your story. That through the immense pain you encountered in your life so far, you still remain hopeful and persistent with your vision for a just world. I hope that my daughter and son will see you and Nabila Rehman as their role models growing up, and understand how you challenged the superpowers of the world; perhaps then my children will imagine a different world for their selves.