For a school report, my son asked me what my definition of the American Dream is and if I believed in the American Dream.
Here is what I told him:
My definition of the American Dream is that it's an aspirational concept for wanting upward mobility possible for everyone.
My son asked, how can someone achieve the American Dream?
To achieve the American Dream, you need to make yourself as valuable as possible. Build your skillsets, learn from successful & intelligent people and gain experience along the way.
“Black Victim To Black Victor” Book by Adam B. Coleman
Black Americans are constantly lied to about the source of their community’s issues in an effort to profit off their pain and to make sure that they never leave the mindset of the victim. In order to move forward in American society, black people must be critical of all sectors of black culture and the people that profit off the mainstream black victim messaging. I believe that with…
I explained to my son that the American Dream isn't given, it's earned. It's earned through hard work and perseverance. There is this idea that because you simply exist in America, you should be handed your successes and that's not how it works (nor should it).
His next question was do I believe the American dream is accessible to every regardless of identity. My answer: Yes, if they want it bad enough.
We are constantly talking about fairness to the point of wanting absolute fairness which is utopian. It will never happen.
People who are successful focus on what they can do rather than what they can't do. They aren't preoccupied with "what if I was *insert identity*", they maneuver around the obstacles to achieve their goals. This makes them stronger and more resilient.
Believing you are oppressed, even if you actually are, does nothing for you. It is a pointless position to take. We should strive to have a better society but doing nothing for yourself along the way is not the mentality of a successful person.
What exactly is success? For some people, it's being a millionaire, but for me, it isn't. For me success is sustainability. Being able to hold my own weight economically. Not having to rely on friends, family, or the government in order to survive.
He asked what shaped my viewpoints on the American Dream: Talking to immigrants to America and traveling abroad. We take for granted so many things and have little to no realization about how what is normal for us is abnormal in many countries.
I've talked to people who had to leave their homeland because their ethnic group was being threatened. I've talked to people who had to leave because gangs threatened to kill their families if they didn't hand over their sons.
How about the commonplace activity of police bribery in order to not go to jail. These are activities that would be scandals if it was happening even on a small scale but in some countries they are commonplace. Safety is not a given in this world; the ever-present danger is real.
People aren't streaming through our southern border and waiting on lists for years to come to America because it's terrible here. They see something special here and I wish more Americans realized how fortunate they actually are. We're flawed but there are far worse places.
Which brings us to the last question: have I experienced or am on my way toward the American Dream?
I went from being homeless, occasionally living with my mother as an adult, struggling to pay bills, car repossessed, unemployment…
To now making an above-average income, building savings, living in a wonderful home & just purchasing my first brand-new car in over a decade.
How was able to make it? I built myself up. I stopped having pity parties, sought therapy when I needed it, & grew my confidence.
Professionally I built my skillsets, listened to smart people, and trusted my instincts.
All of which had me double my income in a matter of 6-7 years. This is not to brag but to say that if I can do it, a lot of people can do it too.
If you want something bad enough, go for it but your mentality along the way is key.
Don't be a victim, be a victor.