Sunday, May 16, 2021   

  Home     About     Guest Editorials     Advertise     Blog     Site Map     Links     Contact      Subscribe RSS      Subscribe Email  
Home » Salon

Captain America in a turban

11 September 2013 Salon 3 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
A photo of the author (Credit: Fiona Aboud)

A photo of the author (Credit: Fiona Aboud)

Captain America in a turban

I wore that costume to challenge the way New Yorkers think about superheroes — and bearded Sikhs like me

I settled on a rock in Central Park, the New York skyline behind me. A glassy new skyscraper neared completion in its stretch toward the skies. I was striking a few poses in my superhero costume when a young boy perched higher on a rock chimed in.

“Captain America does not have a turban and beard,” he said. He had a child’s curious tone. No malevolence.

“Why not?” I asked him. “I was born here. We could have a new Captain America who is Sikh or black or Hispanic.”

He thought about this. Finally, he conceded that yes, maybe a black or Hispanic Captain America would be OK. But his brain couldn’t make sense of it: Captain America in a turban? Captain America in a beard? He’d never conceived of such a thing before.

That’s exactly what brought me to this park on a beautiful summer day. To make fresh neural connections in our collective consciousness. To leave a new image on the hard drive of that boy’s mind.vishavjit_singh_embed5













The idea originated with Fiona Aboud, a photographer based in New York City. For seven years she has traveled the country capturing stills for “Sikhs: An American Portrait” project. I’m an editorial cartoonist, who has been documenting the thrills and travails of real-life Sikhs in the aftermath of 9/11 through illustrations made on my computer touch pad. One of those cartoons, created for my first trip to Comic-Con, featured a turbaned and bearded Captain America. It made a three-dimensional spark in Fiona’s imagination.

I was going to be Captain America for a day on the streets of the Big Apple.vishavjit_singh_embed1


Thanks to inclement weather, we ended up shooting on Puerto Rican Day. It was bright and sunny as we stepped out of Fiona’s house. I was acutely aware of my tight costume. I caught the stares of passersby in the corners of my eye. There were a few gentle smiles.

I have been skinny all my life, and I felt a stirring of anxiety to be so exposed. Family and friends have pointed out my thin-ness for years, and the self-consciousness has sunk deep into my psyche. Before I could even confront the political statement of my costume, I had to confront my own inhibitions and body image. But I took a deep breath, and kept walking.


  1. […] El capitán América… barbudo y con turbante   […]

  2. I Love it ! ha ha ha
    I Will put on one of this Red, With and Blue suit with my CHARRO hat ha ha ha ! ! ! ( Charro) Mexican hat !

  3. I must thank you for the efforts you have put
    in writing this site. I really hope to check out the same high-grade blog posts from you later on as well.
    In fact, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my
    own, personal site now 😉

Have your say!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>