Maine Voices: A Captain America for Civil Rights

My beard and turban help me teach kids to shed stereotypes and be open to learning what it really means to be American.

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Originally published in the Portland Press Herald on May 29, 2016
By Vishavjit Singh

Sikh Captain America with students at the Civil Rights Team conference

Sikh Captain America with students at the Civil Rights Team conference. Photo by Megan Webster

I flew from New York City to the Portland airport last Sunday for my first-ever trip to Maine. The first curious eyes I encountered upon arriving were not on my turbaned and bearded countenance, but on my checked piece of luggage, taking a ride on the carousel.

Fellow passengers were giving it curious looks, and a few approached me with the query, “If you don’t mind, can I ask you what is inside this plastic luggage piece?”

 “A metal Captain America shield,” I replied.

I am the nation’s only turbaned and bearded cartoonist, and I had the privilege of hosting cartoon workshops and delivering the keynote speech at the Civil Rights Team Project conference last week at the Augusta Civic Center. Over 550 students from 41 middle and high schools across Maine attended the conference, supported by the Maine Humanities Council. I was here to share my story through cartoons, going beyond the shallowness of the stereotypes that are so often used to define us, confine us and prevent us from starting conversations.

To read the full op-ed, visit the Portland Press Herald.