April 24, 2017

Los Angeles has a Message for its Residents (& for President Trump).

“In California, everybody is equal,” I remember hearing my father say with shining eyes.

My father moved his young family to Los Angeles, California when he returned from the war. He was seeking opportunity, a new job, and a new life away from what he felt were the narrow opportunities for Italians, who were still considered “immigrants” on the East Coast.

Of course, I was only five years old. What did I know about equality—or inequality, for that matter? All I knew about was my father’s shining eyes. You could practically see the dreams pouring out of them.

While he never did make it into the movie or radio industry—his biggest dream of all—California did not disappoint when it came to opportunity.

Growing up, the derogatory phrases “wop” or “dago” were nowhere to be heard. I never felt like I was “fresh off the boat,” nor did my parents have to hear they were “stealing other people’s jobs.”

Hard to believe, isn’t it?

But it’s true.

Immigrants have always been shunned and looked down on—even those who are from cultures people now brag about, and not only contributed Michelangelo and Galileo, but the entire concept of pizza!

In the face of the ongoing blind spot about “immigrants” that we humans still seem still have, L.A. has announced the launch of an advertising campaign that carries a message that the L.A. Times refers to as a “clear response to President Trump’s proposed travel ban“:

“Everyone Is Welcome.”

“Diversity and inclusivity have always been cornerstones of Los Angeles culture, but there has never been a more crucial time to reinforce these points,” said Ernest Wooden Jr., chief executive of Discover Los Angeles.

Against the backdrop of the many incredible attractions of L.A., including the Original Farmer’s Market, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Venice Beach, and Olvera Street, Wooden has produced a video showing people of various ethnic backgrounds hugging, dancing, and skateboarding.

In short, the video captures the heart and spirit of L.A. that my father sought almost 75 years ago—and that still exists today, not only in that great state but in the hearts and minds of people everywhere.

Thank you L.A. and thank you California for showing us what people of goodwill are made of!


Author: Carmelene Siani
Images: YouTube
Editor: Emily Bartran

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