This week we feature the current favorites and obsessions of Vishavjit Singh, a New York City based cartoonist, writer, performance artist and creator of www.Sikhtoons.com, who travels across the U.S. hosting talks and workshops. He is also a Media Fellow at SALDEF (Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund). In the midst of being targeted with fear and intolerance from fellow Americans, Vishavjit armed with turban, beard and humor has been creating art to build bridges connecting not just with those who empathize with his plight, but also those who judge him based on his countenance and perceived immigrant roots.
1. My first loves: Rajma & Legos
Rajma (curried red bean) the quintessential Punjabi dish was my first love and the love saga continues. Just about the only way to relish this gustatory experience is to be invited to a Punjabi household. That little turbaned Captain America emerging from rajma is my other love for little plastic pieces known as Lego. This little turbaned Captain America is part of a big social experiment of mine.
2. Resistance Education
These are two books I am reading right now. Portrayed in Catherine Clinton’s biography, the indomitable spirit of Harriet Tubman is the perfect prescription for our tumultuous times. George Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant is a must read for anyone who is trying to figure out how to respond to our latest crisis in democracy. Language, words, ideas, and frames have altered the American political landscape in a way most of us cannot fathom until you start reading this book. Before your next act in resistance read this.
3. Sufi Infused Poetic Meditations
My life has been transformed by poetry of the Sikh faith set to music. Another poetic tradition that touches the soul with its passion is the Sufi tradition. One of the best spots for Sufi poetry melded with western instruments is Coke Studio out of Pakistan. This is part of my daily meditation ritual. There are many gems across the nine seasons. Here is one piece titled “Uddi Ja (Soar Freely)” that you have to listen with captions on unless you understand Punjabi and Urdu.
4. The Deep Well Of Compassion
I read this story about Los Angeles County foster father Mohammed Bzeek a few days ago, and it really uplifts the spirit knowing the incredible potential we possess for compassion and kindness. — “‘I know they are going to die.’ This foster father takes in only terminally ill children” (Los Angeles Times).
“These kids need people like us.”
Meet Mohamed Bzeek, the only LA County foster parent who takes in terminally ill children: pic.twitter.com/g3kYJEjXPZ
— Fusion (@Fusion) February 22, 2017
5. Spoken Word Poetry
This OCD infused spoken word poem by Neil Hilborn came to my social media feed via George Takei. There is a good reason it has garnered over 33 million views. I will let it speak for itself.