On a warm sunny day in June, I stepped out as Captain America to mess with people’s perceptions of turbans and beards. This was the first time in my life I had worn a costume. Not even Halloween had tricked me into wearing one. And I had no plans of donning it again. But life has its own plans, and I found myself out on the streets again thanks to the motley crew at “Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell.” (Who, by the way, have been given the boot a week after airing the Sikh Captain America segment. I am ready to accept all the blame — except for the stupidity of creating a new mutant FXX channel out of FX.)
Along the way I have learned a few life-altering lessons.
1) I did not know I could get hundreds of strangers to profess their love for me. Literally saying, “I love this man.” Who knew a skinny bespectacled Captain America in a turban with a long, sparsely populated DNA spiral of a beard could arouse such passion? To all of you I say, “Thank you, but I am taken.”
2) You can grow balls any time in your life, and it has nothing to do with your body size or appearance. Circumstances and people can bring out the best in all of us. Tragedies and conflicts are the most potent opportunities for change. The hate crime wave after 9/11 provided the spark for me to start creating cartoons. The massacre of six worshipers at the Sikh Milwaukee temple last year gave me a reason to get out of my own way and agree to don the Captain America uniform. How we respond to these cracks in our life’s fabric can chart a whole new course.