SAAS 6th Graders Reflect On Visit by Vishavjit Singh

SAAS 6th Graders Reflect On Visit by Vishavjit Singh

Earlier this month, the Middle School was visited by Vishavjit Singh, a cartoon artist, activist, and writer. After 9/11, Vishavjit became known as The Sikh Captain American when he began making posters and cartoons of himself as Captain America.  Vishavjit spoke to the entire Middle School at their Sanctuary meeting on May 7. He then did a cartoon lesson with Bill Metcalfe’s 6th grade history class. The 6th graders also had the opportunity to visit Vishavjit’s  exhibit at the Wing Luke Museum.

Two 6th grade students were asked to write about their experience with Vishavjit’s visit.

Lucy Adams
Recently at a Middle School Monday meeting, a man named Vishavijit Singh came and spoke. He told us his story, about being made fun of as a kid, and about finding who he was as a person by pursuing his passion for comics. But most interesting, he told us how he began a new career after dressing up as Captain America at comic-con. Since then, Vishavjit has addressed social injustices through comics he creates. After hearing from him, he presented a comic workshop to 6th graders during history class. There, we created comics about ourselves. The drawings were super fun to make, and some of them even ended up at the Wing Luke museum! We ended the project by going to visit the Wing Luke Museum later that week on a fun field trip to the International District. We saw the area of the museum that had Vishavjit’s work. His comics were super cool to check out. And overall, we had a great week, with lots of fun and excitement.

Nik Swaminathan
Vishavjit Singh came with big ideas to share, all of them told through amazing stories. In his visit at SAAS, Vishavjit started with his introduction, where his theme of personal identity started to show. He is the Sikh Captain America. As a Sikh, he was commonly given dirty, hateful, often spiteful looks after 9/11 and the rise of the Taliban, because he wore a turban like the terrorists that many Americans disliked so much. To combat this, Vishavjit started drawing amazing and incredibly inspiring cartoons that are more than just pictures to lots of people.  But best of all, Vishavjit became the ”Sikh Captain America.” Vishavjit was inspired to don the Captain America “alter ego” after a white supremacist attacked a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. He wanted to fight hate crimes and challenge people’s understanding of what it meant to be American.

During his presentation at SAAS, Vishavjit touched on lots of ideas regarding what it means to be American. One of his primary messages was that you should not judge people based on how they look or dress. Vishavjit focused on this because he himself not only struggled with his beard and his complexion, but with his head covering as well. Rather than hide, he decided to help people get used to it, so they would not associate him with terrorists.

Arguably, Vishavjit’s biggest point was that like any other person born or living in America, he was American. But that is something he found lots of people overlooked. When interviewing people, most, if not all, said that they thought he was from another country, not that he was American. But Vishavjit was born in Washington D.C., raised in America, and now lives in New York City. He argued that anybody that was American, no matter their race, gender, or religion could be Captain America because Captain America represents all of America, not just one group. Vishavjit has that superpower: He can help people change their way of seeing things and open up to a new possibility, including that a skinny Sikh man in a turban can be Captain America too.

Here are links to additional information about Vishavjit’s career:

Maine Voices: A Captain America for Civil Rights: Portland Press Herald
Fighting Enmity Against Sikhs With Art, Talks and Superhero Garb: NY Times
Captain American in a Turban: Salon
“What’s up with the rag head?”: When I starred in a Facebook ad: Salon