Vishavjit Singh is publicly known for his Captain America persona — a Sikh man equipped with his turban and beard — fighting against bigotry, intolerance and perceptions of what an American should look like.
But Singh, the only member of his family born in the U.S., didn’t always feel he could embrace his identity this way.
Singh took off his beard and turban and gave up his Sikh identity while in college after experiencing bullying and stereotyping when he moved back to the U.S. from India.
Now, an animated feature, “American Sikh,” is set to chronicle his life, from his time in India, where his family survived the 1984 anti-Sikh bloodshed, to his move back to the U.S., where he rediscovered his Sikh identity, only to be tested once again while working near New York City after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The film, “American Sikh”, is produced by Vishavjit Singh, creator of SikhToons.com (aka Sikh Captain America), and directed by Ryan Westra, alumnus of Chapman University and Chapman University’s Sikhlens program, the release notes.
The film captures the story of Vishavjit Singh – the struggles he faced throughout his life course (including 1984 and 9/11) and the unique way he fights intolerance through the power of his art. and his alter-ego: Sikh Captain America, he said.
“The terrorist attacks of September 11 had a tremendous impact on communities of color in the United States, particularly Sikh Americans. As we celebrate 20 years of the tragedy, it is more important than ever to place this story in the American entertainment landscape, ”Sikhlens noted in the statement.
Vishavjit Singh is a New York-based Sikh American designer, writer and artist. He is a speaker exposing diversity, inclusion, storytelling and the power of art in schools, universities and businesses across the country, according to learningforjustice.org. He is also a Creative Arts and Diversity Researcher at the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, based in Washington, DC.
Singh has faced stereotypes his entire life, especially after 9/11, and now during a time when ISIS is in the headlines. Inspired by a racist cartoon, he began creating political cartoons, “Sikh Toons.” He also created a caricature of himself as Captain America, with his turban and beard, his point being “he’s as American as the most iconic of American superheroes.”
Vishavjit now travels across the country talking about being a Sikh and what it means to be an American.
The Sikh Art & Film Festival will take place from November 18 to 21.
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