Middle School

Sikh Captain America Inspires Students to Tell Their Stories

Vishavjit Singh, a nationally recognized cartoonist and performance artist also known as Sikh Captain America, visited The Northwest School on May 10-11, to speak with Middle Schoolers on issues of race and identity.

“Even if you have an identical twin, no one on this planet is exactly like you,” he told students. “You have to remind yourself that you have your story and you aren't going to let anyone else tell it but you."

In his two days at Northwest, Vishavjit visited with 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students, detailing his upbringing and sharing how he struggled with his own identity as a youth. After fully adopting the Sikh religion he was born into, Vishaujit was inspired to don a Captain America costume after the Aug. 5, 2012 mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. He chose Captain America in order to challenge stereotypes, noting that Captain America, as a fictional character, can be anyone.

When walking the streets as Sikh Captain America in New York, Vishavjit challenges pedestrians with simple questions, such as "when you look at me what is the first thing you think of?"

"People often mislabel me, but it starts conversations" said Vishavjit, who was born in Washington D.C.

Vishavjit began drawing cartoons after seeing a creative response by Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Mark Fiore, which featured a Sikh man. It was the first time Vishavjit had ever seen someone who looked like him represented in media. That inspired Vishavjit to start drawing cartoons featuring Sikhs and other images from his upbringing. In a special activity with the 7th grade class, Vishavjit asked students to draw a cartoon of their own story.

Said Vishavjit: "If you don't see yourself represented, draw yourself. That is the power of art: it doesn't necessarily have to answer questions; it can create an image or an idea that somewhere down the line can change what someone thinks."

Vishavjit currently has an exhibit, Wham Bam Pow!, in the Wing Luke Museum. He has asked students across the nation for their own cartoon stories, and he will select some to appear in a rotating digital display at his exhibit.

Read more about his exhibit from The Seattle Times here.