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The American Dream

By Línda Vanesa Perla

Freshman year I wrote this performance piece concerning the American Dream and my roots as being a 1st generation, of illegal immigrant parents, Latina from South Carolina going to a private college in Boston–The City on the Hill. It marks the beginning of my identity journey that I am currently in the thick of. At 4 am last night I found it again, alongside the videos taken at the locals where I have a white woman and a Latina forcibly cut off all my hair, and realized the wisdom/anger/sadness in these young words. Now that I am allowed to be publicly in fear of how I stand in this country–that has been in my body from the beginning. Particularly concerning my citizenship and my life I have decided to share this piece.

I am full of ANGER.
Who I am and who I will be and who I once was built by Anger.
Anger towards the American Dream.

We are RATS.
Out lives are RAt RAces.
Some are conditioned to win the race.
While others are pushed farther and farther and farther by their fathers and mothers who say
NONONONONONONONONONONONO
3 blind Mice
Blind by IGNORANCE.
Blind by OPPRESSION.
Blind to their cycle of POVERTY.
If only they knew a way OUT.
If only they knew about…..

THE AMERICAN DREAM
bullshit.

The American Dream.
The American Dream.
The American Dream.
The Dream to be Fucking American.
I pledge allegiance to the flag
To relinquish my culture, my background, my grandmother, and my grandfather who lives in the SLUMS OF ——————————————————————————-CENTRAL AMERICA.

The American Dream was never for the Blind Mice
But for Men
Like
Gatsby
White
and
Lucky

I hear
“Pull yourself up by your bootstraps”
bullshit.

How can PEOPLE born LAST
pushed back
and
forced down
pull themselves up
When they NEVER
HAD
BOOTS
TO
BEGIN
WITH.

People say I’m wroooooong
People say I’m wroooooong because I DID it.
I pulled myself out out out out out out out
of the cycle of
Oppression, Poverty, Dirt, Gunshots, Racism, Discrimination, HUNGER, HOOOMELESSNESS–because I believed
believed in the AMERICAN DREAM

NO.

I am a lucky one.
I am one of the few that were not KILLED early on by
NONONONONONONONONONONONONONONO
That killed my parents
NONONONONONONONON
And Killed those before them
NO.

I am here because I
f
e
l
l
into the MEAT GRINDER of SOCIETY
by the hands of noble white women.
Yet,
the MEAT GRINDER took me
WHOLE
my security, my culture, my condition
and GROUND me up
Now I am        l  e f t
having to pick up
the MUUSH and MOLD it into
Success
Because I. WAS. LUCKY.

Lucky enough to have what was me stripped and pounded and grounded away by those who believe the AMERICAN DREAM
Gastby believed

I am confused
and
literally
LOST IN TRANSLATION

My mother is not America
pero El Salvador

My grandfather is not money
pero cultura.

Yet.
I  tear myself
A                P                       A                R                     T
willingly
because even what makes me me
OPPRESSES ME
Even what I LOVE
a feeling
from the deeeeepest corners
of my SOUL
tells me I am worthless.

I am a WOMAN
I should stay home
Raise children
Grown my hair
Because apparently my culture believes
HAIR
HAS power
femininity.
Without it.
I AM A man.
I AM NOT me.

I fight against it.

As I fight against those who
START
at the beginning
and look back as their
nutrition
tricks slooooowly
but oh so surely
back to me
to my people
to my little sister
WHO HATES WHO SHE IS BECAUSE
SHE IS NOT
WHITE.
the Embodiment of the American Dream

I look around and see the metropolis I have decided to because part of.
I see it and thank GOD that
I escaped
Escaped
EScaped
ESCaped
ESCAped
ESCAPed
ESCAPEd
ESCAPED

The South
I feel alone.
THE South
furthered an oppression that I don’t feel here
THE SOUTH
is Confused and paralyzed by fear

It is a place of warmth
The warmth of HELLFIRE still burning
from the Darkest Days of America
transferred to those the
color of their SAND

I do believe it to be a miracle I’m here..
I was not given a birthright to achieve what I’ve achieved.

I don’t know how.
I could say it was hard work
it was parents who said yes the last second
It could be a natural inclination to achieve
or a FLAW in my genetics that propelled me to FIGHT

You could say I’m surviving a long term murder plot against my life.

 

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