After 9/11, Vishavjit Singh experienced an uptick in discrimination. "Al Qaeda," people hissed as he passed them on the street.
"Go back to your country."
Singh was born in Washington, D.C., but for much of his life people have assumed he's from somewhere else. As a devout Sikh, Singh wears a turban and beard that many struggle to see as fully American. So, he thought - what if I took on the epitome of American identity?
That started his career as a cartoonist, which eventually led to his dressing up as Captain America.
"I dream in turban and beard," says Singh. With the help of a teenage-sized costume from Singapore, that dream became a reality. Now, his cartoons and costumes are on display in an exhibit at the Wing Luke Museum. It's called WHAM! BAM! POW! Cartoons, Turbans & Confronting Hate.
By his own accounting, he is shy and skinny. He worried that people would be unkind, or even threatening, but he found that the costume enabled people to see him different. They were more able to overcome their biases and embrace their curiosity.
We all struggle with biases, says Singh. But in order to improve the world for all of us, we need to "embrace our follies," confronting them in hopes of seeing them change.