My American Project
I’m seeking individuals who will allow me to take their portrait for my “American Project.” I’m looking for people who call and think of themselves as “American”. Not Italian-Irish-Hispanic-African-Japanese-etc.-American, but just “American”. I realize that this all sounds kind of silly but let me explain.
Before Columbus made his fateful voyage in 1492, there was no United States. And there was no Canada or Peru or Columbia or Mexico or Cuba and on and on. The United States is referred to as the land of immigrants, but the entire Western Hemisphere is the result of immigration. Europeans, African slaves, Asians – all traveled to and settled in North and South America. The indigenous tribal nations of the Americas were conquered by the immigrants and new nations arose. And in these nations, new citizens called themselves by their nation-names – Cubans, Mexicans, Canadians, Colombians, etc. Just one name. Not two. Descendants of African slaves also live in Haiti, Cuba, Brazil and they call themselves Haitians, Cubans, Brazilians. Not African-Haitians, African-Cubans, African-Brazilians. Descendants of Italians in Argentina call themselves Argentinian. Descendants of the Spanish in Columbia call themselves Columbian and on and on. Only in American do we hyphenate our personal history. “Fill-in-the-blank”-American. Why? Surprisingly it was a Canadian who pointed this out to me. She said, “why are people in this country afraid to say that they’re from here? Why do they always say they’re from someplace else?” I’m not sure that we’re afraid to say we’re an American, but we don’t identify with it. We identify with our heritage. And it doesn’t matter if you’re 5th generation American – I still hear, “I’m Italian.” In the past the Italians were Romans but that changed. At what point aren’t you just an “American?” With our different complexions and facial features our ancestral heritage is obvious. But maybe if we only referred to ourselves as Americans, that might bring us together. So that when we hear about an injustice to another American, we won’t say, “I’m not an African, Japanese, Hispanic-American so I don’t care.” We’ll say, “It’s an American calling for help and I’m ready.”
So if you think of yourself as an American – it’s the only word out of your mouth – and are willing to let me take your portrait, contact via email – firstname.lastname@example.org – I’ll come to you, and however you would like to display your Americaness – with a flag or something, it’s your choice – I’ll be there. And in time I will be posting your photo to a website “Made in America” where, besides your photo, there will be other images of uniquely American icons.
(If someone wants to participate and they’re too far for me to travel, submissions are welcome. The same rules apply for American icons. I haven’t been to Mt. Rushmore, and won’t be going anytime soon, but if you have a photo to share, please do so. IMPORTANT – The Copyright of all submissions must be owned by the providers of the photographs. You cannot submit photos taken by someone else without their permission. Please download a consent form here – America Project – and mail with your submission. Full credit will be given and originals will not be returned without an S.A.S.E. Thank you.)