Sikh cartoonist Vishavjit Singh has spent years combatting bigotry and intolerance with his alter-ego Sikh Captain America, walking the streets in full costume and engaging strangers in conversations around diversity. When Inauguration Day rolled around, Singh knew where he needed to be.
Dressed in his Captain America suit and matching blue turban, Singh stood at the gates to Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 21 holding a sign that read: “Black, Muslim, Trans, Latino, Asian, White...We all Make America Great.”
“My Captain America alter-ego is all about promoting a twitch in our perceptual reality to create a space where perhaps for a few moments we can look beyond our stereotypes,” Singh told The Huffington Post.
The artist said he was prepared to encounter “resistance and even outright aggression” from those entering the Capitol Building grounds for Trump’s inauguration. But he didn’t.
“More than a few supporters of the soon-to-be president were very open to my presence and message. Many came up to take photos with me,” Singh said.
“I heard a ton of ‘Yes, that is right on.’ A young woman offered an extra Inauguration ticket to me. A few police officers complimented me on the uniform,” he added.
The experience surprised him, Singh said. His sign pointed to the fact that President Donald Trump and many of his supporters have repeatedly demonstrated bias against marginalized communities. Many progressives have criticized Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan for promoting a racist vision of America that undermines the country’s diversity.
Singh himself is Sikh, has a long beard and turban, and is of South Asian descent. He noted, “At no point did I feel threatened or any overt anger being hurled my way. That is rare in my experience.”
Despite his positive experience outside the inauguration, Singh is realistic about the work ahead to promote acceptance in a highly divided country.
“Our journey ahead is going to be bumpy ride through with major political turbulence,” he said. “Our main weapon of choice has to be knowledge. We need to make sure not to let the anger drive us towards hate.”
Check out a short video on Singh produced by PBS below: