Lets be real, its a dog chasing its tail
What is the American Dream anyway? Be a homeowner, drive nice cars, have a girl AND a boy, marriage, six figure career, successful business owner? Is all of that attainable? Is there a timeline? Are you currently trying to achieve it?
I have had a conversation with a friend, whose entire family immigrated here. His version of the American dream is exactly what his mother accomplished; she came over, worked extremely hard, and opened a successful business. She did jobs that no one else wanted to do and worked extremely long hours to save for her business. She lived meagerly and humbly. Her making it to America was a dream turned reality; it was something her family and families like hers always talk about because of the living conditions and unfair wages in their country. For their family they achieved the dream; Hard work equals success in America. She came over, worked hard and provided a legacy for her children to uphold.
For my family, the American Dream was always a steady paycheck. Living on government assistance my entire life, tax time was everything, like winning the lottery! Taco Bell dinner was SOOO freaking exciting lol it was like an elegant dinner we could not afford. No one had fathers as far as my eye could see and some didn’t even have mothers. Jail was normal. Candles due to lack of electricity was common. I was accustom to sharing bath water. Bombing for roaches was normal. When I got my first real paycheck at McDonald’s at 15 I was like a kid at the candy store! I had never seen $171 my entire life and it was what I had worked for! All I wanted was some clothes and Jordans, but I had to pay the rent. I had never been to a sit down restaurant and we snuck into movies. My first dentist trip was at 17.
Once I started to live this “dream” I realized how much bullshit it was! Man most people have student loan debt that if they are lucky enough to find a career in their field that the debt paid for, they will be paying off these loans the first 6-8 years of the said careers! Even longer if they don’t get that “high” paying salaried job. Mind you I put “high” in quotation because Uncle Sam takes much more than his fair cut from the middle class. I try not to complain about that because I was raised off government assistance, which apparently the taxes help pay, but ironically, the government assistance we used as a child was designed to keep us on it! Yes you read that right. A lot of individuals that use public assistance to get ahead have to work 4 times as hard to get off of the assistance. Example: When you receive food stamps you are “encouraged” to get a job. Once you get a job, say at a department store making minimum wage, once you work over 20-24 hours your benefits severely decrease, if not come to a halt. However, you can not afford groceries off of minimum wage job that barely wants to give you 40 hours a week. So that is why most people do not work. There are not many programs out there that are helping individuals find better skills for better employment. I could get deeper, especially since I had a hell of an experience with section 8 (free rent) as a child, but I believe you get the point; its set up to keep people dependent on it. Because of this flawed system I find it hard to support the amount of taxes my colleges have to pay, but its a part of the American dream right?
When I got older I realized that the things I looked forward to were normal….at least to the average American. I began to learn that the average Americans dream was to be a homeowner, get married and have children with a career, in somewhat that order. Maybe marriage first with the career but you get the point. My outlook was all jacked up! If it weren’t for me being an avid reader as a child man I would probably still be in the hood! My imagination took me way past James P Brawley, the street I grew up on in a neighborhood just west of Atlanta.
The more diversity I was exposed to I learned that theres even a different dream out there for other Americans. Suburban middle class children have sort of a…privilege for lack of a better term? They go to college, period. They have parents who provide them with tutors and the necessary skills to succeed. They have options, but they can “fall back” on a career if they need to. A lot of them knew exactly what credit is and start off with decent credit (meaning no overdue Georgia power bills from their childhood). Some kids even stay with their parents for a few years, get to stay on their parents health/car insurance premiums and are sent out into the world with support. Their dreams are the marriage, career, house, kids.
My dream was to be alive. My dream was to not get addicted to drugs. My dream was to not have 5 baby daddies. My dream, from reading books, was to be rich by the time I was 40 (lol I still say that one). But I had NO clue how I was going to achieve all of that.
The first dream was about hard work equals success. The second dream was finding hard work and surviving is a success. The third dream is just waiting on guaranteed success with minimum work. The idea of this article is to spark conversation obviously, but to ask a few questions: Why are there 3 different dreams in America depending on race and economical status? Why do all of these dreams include debt? (maybe thats the real dream that they are selling us) And lastly, Can we provide to every kid in our reach, the information needed to be successful BEFORE they head out to tackle life? Let us all ensure no one is doing their “dream” alone!