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Independence Day, July 4th, 2014

Jessica Kallista fights for the right to give her art away.
Jessica Kallista fights for the right to give her art away.
Jessica Kallista

On this day, it seems most appropriate to celebrate the founding of America with a tribute to immigrants. With exception of Native Americans, the rest of came from somewhere else. Mexican-Americans may claim to be Native Americans too. Originally, human beings navigated the Bering straits when the tide and weather was right to discover and populate North America, and they kept going southward. Scientists believe that the original people were from Asian origin. Those historical facts portend what was to come again in waves of new inhabitants.

Fireworks by Natalya Parris
Natalya Parris

Pioneering Americans came from Spain, England, France and Germany. There was a time when what is America could have been different nation states with different allegiances. Yet, what drove people most was their pursuit of independence from other nations, and the desire for self-determination, individual freedom, and liberty. So, Americans joined together to shed their encumbrances and impositions to create a new nation.

True is that there were extreme casualties along that path. Native Americans were nearly exterminated. They were pushed harshly from their tribal homes from place to place until their numbers were decimated. They ended up on reservations where they maintain some autonomy of their own today, however unfair that may be.

Immigrants were treated with discrimination as they came from different origins. The reason was that immigrants tended to be poor and lacking means. They came to America to discover opportunity and to make something from their own individual capabilities. Each time a new wave came, many Americans who had now secured a place in citizenship resented the new competitors, and people who would need a little help. Other Americans remembered their own circumstances and reached to the new immigrants with generosity and a helping hand in the spirit of “Lady Liberty.”

Children were taught to sing this song.

“Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
The wretched refuse of your teeming shores
Send these the homeless, tempest tossed to thee
I lift my lamp beside the golden door”

It is diversity that makes America strong. There are millions of examples along a spectrum of persons who have made good lives in this free nation. The most poignant examples include stories like this one. Steve Jobs was an American genius and inventor who died having generated over $8 billion in personal wealth. Yet, there is this fact.

“Jobs's birth parents met at the University of Wisconsin, where his Syrian-born biological father, Abdulfattah "John" Jandali (Arabic: عبدالفتاح جندلي‎), was a student, and later taught, and where his biological mother, Swiss-American Joanne Carole Schieble, was also a student. Jandali, who was teaching in Wisconsin when Jobs was born, said he had no choice but to put the baby up for adoption because his girlfriend's family objected to their relationship.”

It is with sadness that many Americans discover in their lives how intolerance undermines what otherwise would be a glorious story. Discrimination and intolerance are ugly behaviors that cannot be disguised with religion or policy or rules that otherwise propagate them.

Today’s slideshow includes art from Americans that I know who create with all of the freedom that they can muster here in the land of the free and home of the brave.

"Keep, Ancient Lands, your storied pomp!"

Natalya Parris “Fireworks” will be on display at Latino Art Museum Dont’s Sleep 4th Annual Art Festival July 5 – July 31, 2014; Opening Reception July 12, 2014 from 4 p.m. - 9 p.m.; Red Carpet 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.. Address: Latino Art Museum, 281 S. Thomas St. Suite 105, Pomona, CA 91766

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