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