Artist, speaker, and activist Vishavjit Singh, aka Sikh Captain America, visited Friends' Central School in January to host a storytelling talk and workshops for the entire Middle School. Taking place on Middle School Diversity Day, Singh's talk focused on issues of identity, stereotypes, adversity, bullying, the power of our life narratives, and using art as a tool for social change.
In order to challenge what it means to be "American," Singh has donned the uniform of quintessential American superhero Captain America on the streets of many American cities. In his talk with Friends' Central Middle Schoolers, Singh's message called students to challenge labels and stereotypes. Singh explained, "All of us stereotype people. We have to look beyond the stereotypes. That's the power of art – you can use those images to change stereotypes." Singh challenged students to dig deeper. "My life and your life, they are full of labels. We are actually walking, talking stories. Don't judge people based on looks. Find out what their stories are."
After his talk, Singh held cartooning workshops with Middle School students in each grade to teach them how to use cartoons and imagery as tools for changing stereotypes and encourage social change. Singh commented, "I'm not one to immediately voice my feelings when someone is causing me pain. Instead, I take all that frustration and put it into my cartooning." Singh encouraged students to "Look for ways to project yourself and your values into your art."
Middle School Principal Alexa Quinn shared, "We were thrilled to welcome Vishavjit Singh, otherwise known as Sikh Captain America, to Middle School. He's fighting intolerance and stereotypes through his art and stories. We are so grateful for his important and inspiring lessons for us all."
Singh has been featured in Teaching Tolerance magazine published by Southern Poverty Law Center highlighting his work (Behind the Shield: Teaching Tolerance Magazine). He has been featured in Facebook and AdCouncil campaigns, with messages and work covered by a number of news outlets, including the New York Times, NPR, BBC, MSNBC, The Atlantic Monthly, Huffington Post, The Guardian and Time Magazine. His cartoons, writings and performance artwork can be seen on his website at Sikhtoons.com.