When & How The American Dream Died for You?

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Levi Cruz, Salvadorian (2020)

My name is Levi Cruz, I’m 26 years old. Now I’m in an ICE facility far away from my family. I don’t know when I’ll be release or if I get deported. All I’m doing now is sitting thinking what is going to happen with my case and the American dream that I once dream off. I don’t feel it is right for ICE to have people detained. With the Covid-19 going on they should let us be with our family. I just need that one chance to prove that I deserve to be free and live the American dream with my family.

Heriberto Paredes Coronel, Mexican (2019)

The U.S.-Mexico border has been a hotbed of violence for many years. In 2019 I was doing interviews and taking some pictures with people who flee the violence in my country, they arrive at the border with the United States thinking that they will find a humanitarian treatment, refuge, security. But what they find is rejection, racism, more violence and inhumane treatment. They arrive looking for the American Dream and what they will find is the American Nightmare. I am a Mexican journalist.

oumy diaw, Senegalese-American (2008)

It died when I realized too late that the kind of hostilities I experienced in my professional environment was because of my skin color and gender. I wasn't born or raised in USA. So American racism was unknown to me. There are codes, American racism has specific codes and culture. From discrimination, to humiliations, stereotyping in emails, blackmail using your immigration status to "tame you". It is fellow Americans that opened my eyes. In 2016, Donald Trump killed the American Dream again...

Elizabeth Spavento, American (2019)

The American Dream died when I realized that it was always only a dream for some Americans. Specifically white Americans, like myself. I knew this truth internally, but I chose to ignore it. I was anaesthetized to its insidiousness, silent and unmoved like a coma patient: alive but not living, propped up by elaborate systems of private and public interests that ensured my life remained vital, comfortable. I’m not sure if the American Dream is dead or just on life support but I can hear its death

Nevena Dzamonja, Bosnian (2008)

I was raised by a Communist single-mother who never made over 40k, and I grew up a Punk, so I was always very aware of class and inequality. When I got to college I realized I was always going to be stuck behind people who never had to work restaurant and service jobs, who never had to pay their own bills or loans, who could endlessly intern for no pay, whose parents paid for their studios and equipment, and that I would always have to hustle twice as hard just to be at the table.

Ana Rendich, Argentinian-America (2007)

The horrible opinions about the Spanish Language : the conclusions based in prejudice, without reasoning and understanding of the richness and immense importance of all the contributions that writers, poets, essayist, academics... brought to the world. The underestimation and ignorance about who we are. That was my first realization of the social thinking and moral flaws in this country, how Latinos were perceived. It was not only about the Spanish Language, but all what this issue has implied.

Dimitri Winchester, White (2014)

Right around the time I learned I was queer and understanding that no matter what I did or what I had I would not and did not want to fit into the “american model” it took me an even longer time to truly see how many ways that the American dream would never become a reality to those who were not born with hundreds of thousands of dollars. The sooner we all realize that there is not one single American dream and that everyone can have their own.

Luis A. Vázquez O’Neill, Puerto Rican / Cuban (2017)

It is October 4th, 14 days have passed since María made landfall and 1 day since president Trump threw paper towels at a crowd. We are working endless hours to get the help from our one side of the island to the other. I was asked to join some reporters to cover the story of bodies piling up in the morgue. Later that night they mami handed the news, papi was found dead in his bathroom, he was there for days and my sister was the first to smell his discomposed body from outside his house. Miss U.

Rebecca Miralrio, Mexican American (2005)

Sometime around the age of 5 when I became aware of the fact that my family was considered "illegal". My childhood consisted of me fearing "la migra" and having terrible anxiety over the fact that I could someday be separated from my parents and siblings.

Francie Scanlon, American Irish (1955)

March 12, 1955, in the luxury suite of a Countess holding court in the Fifth Avenue Stanhope Hotel, CHARLIE PARKER exited this plane. His body was so ravaged by racism, ruthless rules stacked against him and repulsion at the 1950s American landscape, this phenomenal 20th century Artist was viewed by the attending physician as being at least in his late 50s when he was 34! Born 29 August, 1920, his entire Life span should have been a BIRD SUITE for his second Pandemic @ 100. Myths die hard.

Perla de Leon, Puerto Rican-Cuban-American (1964)

I attended a Catholic schools where the nuns humiliated students whose parents contributed small change during Sunday mass because we were poor. That police and people in privileged positions were racist and classist was somewhat expected but when nuns were brutally condescending, shamed you in public and told you you would never succeed, it was both startling and a gift, as we learned early that the American Dream was reserved for very few people. I'm obsessed with the status of Puerto Rico.

Christian Martir, Puerto Rican (1979)

The day I was born, in an American colony.

Maya, American (2013)

In 2013 while in school for my undergrad degree. I realized how elitist people in higher education are. My parents are both immigrants but with multiple degrees. People would assume because I am first generation my parents are janitors or own a store or something. I worked my ass off working 2 jobs and going to school just so that people could continue to project those beliefs on me. When I worked an office job people didn’t even think I worked in the office, assumed I was a cleaner or caterer.

Darice Polo, American, Puerto Rican (1959)

The fact that Puerto Rico is not listed under nationality for this project, especially one funded by El Museo, in an ironic way exemplifies the tragic illusion of the American Dream for Puerto Ricans and the Puerto Rican diaspora.

Ayasha, American (2019)

The American dream died when scarcity politics replaced hope in the power of collective demands. So many people *couldn’t afford* to protest the conditions that produced their own precarity. I left when it seemed the nation was numb to this crisis and revolution was a lost cause. But now I see new dreams growing in the U.S. -People realizing that a seat at the table where “you can’t sit with us” won’t protect them after all, and that true power is with the people who gather to build their own.

Chat Travieso, Cuban-Venezuelan-American (2020)

The American Dream, who had been missing for the past three months after prosecutors opened a fraud investigation into their business, was found dead today of an overdose in their home. Investigators have uncovered a trove of incriminating evidence placing the American Dream at the center of a massive Ponzi Scheme that defrauded countless over centuries. In November 2016, the American Dream’s sibling, American Exceptionalism, committed suicide after they were found guilty of criminal conspiracy.

June Canedo, Brazilian, American (1989)

When I visited Brazil for the first time as an adult alone because I was the only one in my family with U.S. citizenship. I walked into a large room full of crying strangers who I'd known as a child. I spent hours hugging and kissing all of them on behalf of the rest of our family who remain undocumented in the U.S.

Zahira Shaalan, American (1984)

The American Dream died for me the day I entered kindergarten. Before that, I was an incredibly bright child, self-assured and besotted with learning. In this environment, I learned how inequality is transmitted from one generation to the next. I was “taught” that my existence was problematic. I was labeled as unintelligent, inferior, less, terms all interchangeable with black, brown and female. I emerged with some aspect of myself intact, albeit cast into a woke state of American dreamlessness.

daisy vazquez, American (2015)

The dream died for me when I thought I was making enough to finally get my family out of NYC public housing. But I couldn't afford to buy what we needed. I called the management of a building labeled as affordable housing in NYC and they told me I didn't make enough. Even the rent for the housing lotteries could be argued as affordable, and the one time I finally got a response I was told I could only afford a 2br, which is what I already live in. I gave up believing I could own a home.

Laura Blanco, American (2020)

My American Dream is currently on life support. It will hopefully be resuscitated in November.

Mitchell Banks, American (1959)

I was on a family trip to Albany, N.Y. and was really struck by the level of poverty I was seeing. I asked my mother why, and she said that was how black people lived. I felt she couldn't be right since the maintenance man at the hotel (who was black) was really nice and took time to talk to me. I thought he would want to live the same way I did-in a house, with a yard-in a place I felt safe.

Lizania Cruz, Dominican (2020)

For me, the American Dream had terminal cancer but died of Covid-19 complications. It was through the pandemic that I realized the failure of our current value on work and individualism. I knew the system wasn’t created for a person like me but, somehow, I believed the idea that through my hard work and my exceptionalism I could make it through. As we were all forced to pause, I could see clearly that I was wrong.