SIKHTOONS

Speaker

I host keynotes, talks & workshops on diversity, inclusion, identity, vulnerability, power of stories & art in schools, universities, companies, conferences among other settings.

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For the past few years ago I have been serving as a keynote speaker, giving talks, hosting interactive cartoon workshops, stereotype realization workshops, sitting on panels at conferences, public schools, independent schools, universities, companies, hospitals, libraries, museums, government agencies, film festivals among other venues.
In the past few months I have given talks at NASA, Google, Apple, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Town Hall Seattle.

Vishavjit brought his amazing presentation to the Seattle Children’s Hospital audience for our quarterly speaker’s bureau on September 20, 2018. His ability to bring a unique look into equity through the lens of a cartoonist particularly as he spoke of his childhood and the adversity and racism he faced because of his religious beliefs. As a center director for health equity in a children’s hospital, Vishavjit’s story was riveting and compelling as his message was a wonderful alignment of our hospital’s vision for enhancing an equity lens to the communities we serve. I highly recommend Vishavjit to speak at your next healthcare event, you will be moved and inspired.
— Kelli Houston, Director, Center for Diversity and Health Equity, Seattle Children's Hospital
Vishavjit is one of the most genuine and inspiring leaders that I have had the pleasure of working with while at the NYC Mayor’s Office. He was instrumental in the early outreach efforts for NYC’s mental health initiative, ThriveNYC. We worked together to organize a major public event geared towards eliminating the stigma around mental health . Before several hundred people, Vishvajit served as a panelist along with NYC Deputy Mayor Richard Buery. Using his creativity, experience, and understanding of intersectionality, he elevated the discourse on mental health for our staff and his participation has had a lasting impact. Vishavjit continues to be a frequent advisor to the Mayor’s Office and agencies such as the Department of Education. I can’t wait to see what his professionalism, easy-going style, and commitment to helping others will lead to next.
— Nick Gulotta, Director of Outreach and Organizing at NYC Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs
I first got to know Vishavjit when Teaching Tolerance magazine featured him in an article titled “Behind the Shield” (spring 2015). During our time working on that story together, I came to know Vish as a creative and dedicated crusader for social justice. He has a clear vision for how art can be used to open minds and empower young people. He also has a compelling personal story that he uses humbly and effectively to connect with people from all walks of life. Since the article was published, I have had the pleasure of reading and sharing a number of Vish’s pieces on his experiences as a Sikh American. I have found him to be a great communicator, a respectful collaborator and, most important, a true believer in the power of art to transform hearts and minds and make the world more peaceful.
— Adrienne van der Valk, Deputy Director at Teaching Tolerance (Southern Poverty Law Center)
Vishavjit is fantastic, I would have him back anytime! He was engaging and dynamic. And while these were heavy topics, e.g. racism, identity, he was talking about, he presented them with grace and empathy. I also appreciated that he did not talk down to the kids present.
— Jose Garcia, Librarian Services Manager - King County Library System
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Talks

The audience for my talks ranges from schools, colleges, companies, conferences, non-profit organizations, libraries, retreats, government agencies, police departments, educators, hospitals, diversity events, social change events, artists.

My talks focus on the confining nature of labels and how despite their utility certain manifestations of labels do a disservice to the narrative of our lives. This has wide reaching impact on policy making, workplace practices, education efforts, true representation of our diverse perspectives, just about every aspect of our lives.

It is imperative we confront our own stereotypes and their place in our lives. Embracing our vulnerabilities creates the potential for change, for taking the path less taken, for acting outside the box, for genuinely learning about our true selves. We need to create spaces to manifest our stories on an equal platform. To express our stories and most importantly to listen to other stories.

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Workshops

I offer two types of workshops. For school students I follow my story telling sessions with interactive cartoons workshops. The idea is not to teach the physical skill to draw but to stoke the imagination to self reflect the young students story. To pen down ones aspirations or frustrations into the contures of illustrated lines. These last approximately 30 minutes.

The stereotype realization workshop is for middle to high schoolers and adults. It creates a space to honestly relfect on the stereotypes in our lives. The ones directed at us and those we direct at others. The key is to realize we are not alone in snap judging others. There are implicit and explicit biases. By confronting our thoughts and actions without judgement leads to avenues for real change. This workshop ranges from 45-90 minutes.

Student Cartoon Art Gallery

I am very thankful for Vishavjit Singh, who was a thoughtful and inspiring presenter at our school assembly.

My school is a very diverse one but also one without a diversity director. We are 6th-12th grade school with students from a wide range of cultures, countries, and backgrounds. Inevitably, there are some culture clashes, most of which derive from lack of awareness and stereotyping. As such, when Vishavjit Singh approached me about speaking at my school and discussing stereotyping, I leapt at the opportunity.

In a 45-minute assembly, Mr. Singh spoke of his life, his work, his struggles, his successes, and the ways in which others have tried to pigeonhole him based on his appearance or cultural background. My students were riveted throughout. The sixth graders wanted to delve into Mr. Singh’s experience as an artist and as the Sikh Captain America. The twelfth graders wanted to hear more about prejudice and racism and stereotyping. And the faculty were able to enjoy seeing the students so engaged.

In the subsequent weeks since his visit, students have referenced Mr. Singh many times, asking when we will have more visitors like him! There can be no higher compliment from middle and high school students.
— Richard Brownstone, Head of Middle & Upper School, The Kew-Forest School, NYC
We invited Vishavjit Singh to come to our school and present an assembly based on a recommendation from a parent who had seen a presentation he had done in the community. He gave a powerful assembly about believing in yourself and writing your own life story -even if it is different than the one people expect you to write. The students were given time at the end to ask questions and here is a sample of what the students asked him:
3rd Grade student- “You said that when we grow up we can tell our own story. My question is, why wait?”
Kindergarten student- “What if you don’t know what your story Is yet?”
5th Grade student – “What if you don’t like who you are and want to change your story?”
This was one of the most engaging and valuable assemblies I have ever seen, and I’ve been an educator for 18 years! We have already asked him to come back next year.
— Tami Beach, Principal at John Hay Elementary School, Seattle, WA
Mr. Singh was very entertaining, good personality and asked us questions to keep us engaged throughout the presentation. I felt as though he took the thoughts people were thinking (and may not have said) and addressed them. Many of his comments were eye opening and I definitely gained a new perspective. For example, when Vishavjit mentioned that after 9/11 he was unable to attend his work for some weeks due to the glares, stares, and threats he was receiving because of his turban. This comment really made me understand the struggle he went through and how he was grouped into a class of people that he never was associated with.
— High School student attending Diversity Day at Thayer Academy, Braintree, MA