Sikh Captain America stood outside Donald Trump’s inauguration with a sign “Black, Muslim, Trans, Latino, Asian, White. We All make America Great.”
Cartoonist Vishavjit Singh has spent years combating 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 January 20 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 did not.
“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 said.
The experience surprised Singh as his sign pointed to the fact that President Trump and many of his supporters have repeatedly demonstrated bias against marginalised communities.
NOT FAKE NEWS I got love from more than a few minority Pres. supporters & countless women's marchers. Radical hope is all I got. Watch out! pic.twitter.com/Uz9gFJ1QyL— Vishavjit Singh (@sikhtoons) January 22, 2017
Many progressives have criticised Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan for promoting a racist vision of America that undermines the country’s diversity.
“At no point did I feel threatened or any overt anger being hurled my way. That is rare in my experience,” he said.
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. Our main weapon of choice has to be knowledge. We need to make sure not to let the anger drive us towards hate,” he said.
Post Trump’s win, there has been a spike in cases of assault and intimidation against minorities in the US, especially hijab-clad women.