Amid the seemingly endless clamoring among adults to define what challenges our communities, and how we can best meet those
challenges — especially fundamental ones — the voices of the next generation are often overlooked. Here are some of them, and here’s what they say.
“My family has taught me that the American dream is a rocky path for people of color,” Yoselin De La Torre-Perez, a student at William Smith High School in Aurora, wrote as part of a “American Dream” project for the Class of 2023. “By taking action, we can create a better way of living.”
The annual American Dream project is coordinated chiefly by teacher Peter Baer and is published as a testament to the often unheard voices in a noisy adult world. The students were in ninth grade when the wrote and published this book.
“Another problem my family and I deal with is social discrimination, not just in professional places, but sometimes when we are just having family time in public places,” writes Sariah Rose Amir. “My grandpa says that he was discriminated against his whole life. He told me that people in stores would yell at him to go back to where he came from, although he is from here. He is a fifth-generation Coloradan.”
The Sentinel regularly brings readers a vast range of news and opinions from sources across the city and even the nation. This week, however, the parent corporation of the Sentinel is offering readers this space for a longer look at what some of Aurora’s younger residents have to say about what is often considered the foundation of our society: seeking the American Dream.
This newspaper publication of the William Smith High School “American Dream” essay project is sponsored by The Colorado Journalism Investment Group, which currently holds and operates Sentinel Colorado. Ownership of the Sentinel , under a new community board and model, is scheduled to take place after the first of the year. Watch for details.
To hear Aurora’s growing voices on the topic of the American Dream, read on.
Alexis Luis Bahena –
The ideal “American Dream” has been blurred out by power, prestige, pleasures, and possessions that are meant to make us happy and to feel adored.
My sister told me her American dream is to succeed in her career and to create a stable future for her family and children. She hopes to finish her nursing education and to get her BSN to work as a nurse, and eventually travel as a travel nurse. She also hopes to get married, have a family, and have children. My sister, Hillary Bahena, also said, “Unfortunately, there’s a lot of racism and segregation prominent today. The ideal ‘American Dream’ consists of materialistic things that are meant to make us happy.”
This impacted me by showing me that I always had an American dream made of possessions that I wanted – toys and objects like Louis Vuitton, luxury stuff. In reality, the American dream should not be made up of possessions; it should be made up of things that would help the world, not hurt it. A good start is more acceptance of people, not making fun of their weight or race; that would be a good starting point. To give opportunities because not everyone gets an equal opportunity. The “American Dream” is also sometimes not reachable because there are language and skin color barriers that make it harder.
“My American dream for this country would be to have great fathers and mothers to raise children and teach them great virtues. Aristotle said, ‘without virtue, there is no friendship,” according to my sister, Karla Welch. Many children are left to adoption, or their dad or mom leaves, but a great nation needs good parents to teach their kids to love. Without love, people become ignorant and selfish, and that’s the point we’re at right now. All people care about is power, and that’s all they want, and they become in love with themselves and have no place in their heart to love anyone; they are only in love with power and possessions. Each kid should have parents to teach them to love and to teach them virtues or we will become incapable of loving one another and ourselves. are chats all they want, and they become in love with themselves and have no place in their heart to love anyone; they are only in love with power and possessions. Each kid should have parents to teach them to love and to teach them virtues or we will become incapable of loving one another and ourselves.
My dad told me his struggles in life; how they came to this country to give us a better life and more opportunities. He told me how hard he works to give us what we want. I sat down and kept talking to him, and he started talking to me about how bad he would want my life. If he were a little kid, how he would want the shoes I had, the clothes, the privileges I had, because all his life he has been working for what he has right now. I see that the kids that have Mexican roots or take things for granted, how they don’t push themselves in school or just do stupid stuff. How our parents maybe never got an education or got one but never finished because it costs money, and your grandparents couldn’t afford it for them. How we don’t use our resources to think about how we were born here. We take that for granted. As my mom says,”ponte las pilas, a metaphor in Spanish that means to be focused and pay attention. My mom always says to do good in school to do well in life and succeed, because all your parents want is the best for you. They don’t want to see you struggling; if they did, they would want you to try again, to keep your head and stand up. Your parents try their hardest to give you what you want, but we don’t help them. I’ve learned that we have to help our parents work hard. My dad has started to make me work for my stuff, and I do now. I’ve learned what hard work is, but I also learned when I talked to him that I also have to try in school. I don’t put my full effort in, and my dad has worked hard to give me my education, and now when I see my hands dirty or I’m tired, it reminds me of my dad when he’s working hard for the family. I also have to work hard and try my best because what I do now is going to impact my future and my future family.
From my family’s ups and downs, I’ve learned to work hard in life because not everything is free. Ultimately, a nation can be full of riches and power, but it will always have injustice, racism, segregation, rage, and conflict without love, virtue, and equality.
Charlye Casco –
Imagine sacrificing everything for your family and then being death threatened. You’ve done everything for your family in Mexico, but now you need to escape. That’s what my grandfather had to go through, and this is my family’s American Dream: to escape from a horrible reality and find a better life in a new country you know nothing about, but you’ll be free – or so we thought.
My family’s journey in America is undoubtedly a much better life than what they had in Mexico. My mom always tells me that she has many “American Dreams,” for example, getting financially stable and better employment. Her main goal was to give me and my siblings a better life once we were born. In Mexico, they were happy. They had money, and they were carefree, and my mom has always been outgoing.
She told me that my grandpa used to be a police officer for her pueblito, so he always dealt with criminals and problems. Once, he was dealing with a murder, and the perpetrator told my grandpa that he would kill him once he escaped. He ended up escaping not long after, and when my grandpa found out, he was scared. My grandpa is a loving family-type person, so he did what was best for his family. He moved to the USA by himself for the second time in 1995. The first time, his brother had unfortunately passed away, and he went back to Mexico.
He made the right decision and came to the US, and my mom stayed in touch with him. A couple years later, she wanted to go there herself. At that time, she had already met my dad and lived with him; the next step for her was to cross the border for a future for her future family. My mom told me that her American wish was not to get rich or leave the struggle. After 15 years in the USA, my mom has started to realize that her real dream was to give all of her family a life. She has sacrificed everything for us, and someday I hope I can give back to her. My mom is the strongest person I know, mentally and physically.
Someone else I look up to is my brother. Technically, he is my stepbrother, but growing up, I was always inspired by him. He has been through a lot in life, and he still keeps going. He said that his American dream was to “go all around the world and see how different people live compared to us and their culture and their religions.” He wants to be able to be a general constructor and improve and invest in his father’s company. He wants to be someone in life. He wants to be able to live well and eat well, as well as be happy. My family has sacrificed everything for us, and I expect myself to continue their legacy and be a better person and learn from their mistakes in life. Many people see the American dream as wealth and happiness, but my family sees it as an opportunity for a better life, an open window for an easier life for later generations.
Yoselin De La Torre-Perez –
My family has taught me that the American dream is a rocky path for people of color. By taking action, we can create a better way of living.
For my sister, the American dream is “to be genuinely happy, to follow and explore as many paths as possible, and to find a path in life that I am happy with. We come from parents who had limited education, and seeking education beyond a high school diploma has always been the top goal in our minds. As the youngest of four sisters, with an eight year difference between the second youngest sister and me, I was never really close with any of my sisters. The difference in age now serves me with some disadvantages, along with some advantages. I felt left out in many ways, such as not going out with them as much or not being able to talk about my problems with them. They are older, and they have dealt with some more critical issues.
As I see my sisters in their early to late twenties, I see things that I could do differently. For example, I have seen that they all had kids at a relatively young age, which stopped them from truly enjoying life without having to worry about their kids. I someday will have kids of my own, but I want to finish college and with medical school, have a stable job, and be prepared for when I do have kids. I want to wait to have kids because I would like to travel around the United States and have mini road trips with friends and enjoy life to the fullest. As much as I would like for our lives to be this easy, they won’t. There are financial, racial, and even family problems that get in the way of finding my happy path. As a Hispanic person, there has always been a thought in the back of my head every time I go out in public: “What is today going to be like? Will I get harassed for speaking Spanish, will I get harassed for the color of my skin, will it be for both, or will I go about my day as if it was just any ordinary day?” I know I am not the only person that feels this way. How are we going to stop this? It’s not as easy as just looking past the color of our skin.
The American dream for my other sister is “having equality amongst all people, regardless of their race.” I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “actions speak louder than words.” Taking action can have a significant impact on changing the way we view people. For example, if you see someone in public being discriminated against, will you stand there and watch, or will you go over and stand up for them? I would try my best to de-escalate and stand up for anyone being discriminated against, as I’m sure many of you would too. Something else that I believe we can do is raise our future children and influence them to treat others kindly, with respect and as equals. I know that by helping people change the way society views and stereotypes people of color, we can make many people feel safer.
By combining these two ideas of the American dream, I know that we can create a better and safer environment in which people of color feel safe to express themselves in public. My sister hopes that “more will be done to help people who are struggling to live the American dream; for example, immigrants, people dealing with homelessness, unemployed people, veterans, and single mothers.” It is essential to help people who are in these situations by breaking down stereotypes that people get automatically put in based on their race or disabilities that they suffer.
From the dreams of my family, I hope America can learn that there are many ways to help people of color, by speaking out or taking action.
Kirvin Fajardo –
“Te portas bien.” This is what my mom tells me every morning after I kiss her goodbye for school. She tells me this because she wants me not to have to struggle and make the same sacrifices she had to make in order to succeed. Despite having immigrated from El Salvador and having faced various obstacles, my mom is one of the lucky people to have experienced the American dream. For my mom, the American dream is being able to work hard and having that work pay off in the end. This is the American dream for my mom because she had to work hard in life to get to where she is now.
In the 1980s, El Salvador was slowly turning into one of the most dangerous countries in the world. My grandma did not want to raise her kids in a violent and corrupt environment.
Therefore, my grandpa had been working in the U.S. with my mom’s two brothers, since 1985, to be able to save up and pay a coyote to help my mom and grandma cross the border. Finally, my grandpa had enough money to pay for a coyote. My mom and grandma departed their country of birth when my mom was 16. My mom described the departure as sad because she would have to leave friends and family behind. She told me she took one long look behind her at the only home she ever knew and the friends and family she wouldn’t see for another 25 years.
Before reaching Mexico, my mom and grandma had to take multiple buses. My mom said she was happy when they reached Mexico because she could finally stretch her legs. The walk to the border was hard. Sweat ran down my mom’s face and fell onto the rocky terrain, disappearing instantly into the dirt. They finally reached the border, but when attempting to cross it, they were caught and detained. My mother told me that she saw the desperation of other families, not knowing what to do next. They didn’t know if they would be sent back, or let go, and my mom felt the same way. Luckily, my grandma was able to call my grandpa, and both were bailed out for $1500.
My mom was happy to have finally reached California and able to see her brothers and dad again. After three weeks of living in L.A., she enrolled in Manual Arts High School. This school was mostly Hispanic, and that made it easier for my mom to adapt. She finally made friends and learned some English, enough to be able to communicate with more people. During that time, my mom was also exposed to some negative events. one of those being the Rodney King riots. My mom described feeling sad. She thought she had left behind violence in EI Salvador. Soon she realized that the U.S. wasn’t as perfect as she thought. Unfortunately, in 1991, my mom and her family had to move to Colorado because of the lack of jobs in L.A. My mom had experienced a lot of change in the last year, and now she had to leave her friends once again and adapt to a less culturally diverse state. On the drive to Colorado, my mom experienced snowfall for the first time; she explained it like this: “It was nice to feel the cold against my face. It was like being in a refrigerator. I thought we didn’t have to buy a refrigerator in Colorado.” After she said this, she threw her head back and laughed.
When my mom and her family arrived in Colorado, they didn’t have anywhere to stay, so they stayed at a motel for a couple of months. One month after arriving in Colorado, she enrolled in Aurora Central High School. She was able to graduate high school because of the English she had learned, and after putting in hard work into her classes, she graduated in 1994.
Unfortunately, after high school, my mom was unable to pursue a career due to the lack of money and knowledge of where she could get help.
In 1994, she got a job at Rocky Mountain Orthodontics where she welded braces. She could finally help her family and helped get my grandparents to rent an apartment. In 1995 she had her first daughter, and due to certain events that happened during that time, she was a single mother. Three years later, my mom met my dad and had her second daughter. Now that my mom had two daughters, she needed a more stable job. She decided to start her own cleaning business; she made her own hours and had time to spend with her family.
Life was great for my mom, and with the birth of me in 2005, her life became even better. My grandfather even bought a house. My mom felt like the American dream was becoming a reality for her. On the morning of November 2, 2008, the smell of coffee filled the house as my mom was getting ready to go to work. However, her morning routine was interrupted by three loud knocks and the family dog Osito barking repeatedly at the door. My mom, not knowing what was about to happen, innocently opened the door. To her surprise, three ICE agents were at her doorstep with a warrant for her arrest. Her heart sunk as she realized this could be the last time she ever saw her house. “There were many ICE agents all around the house, more than ten, just in case I tried to escape. I felt like a criminal. I was allowed to change, and I remember I grabbed a skirt and an orange sweater. When I got out, I was immediately handcuffed and four officials rode with me in the back of a white van. I felt like the world was crashing down on me. I felt so overwhelmed and sad.”
My mom was taken to an ICE detention center, where immigrants are held while their cases are processed. When she arrived, she was in shock and still could not believe what was happening. She didn’t know what to do. She was numb and time seemed to go by slowly, Hope was nonexistent for her, “What are they going to do with me?” she asked herself. Her first day in her words was “strange.” She didn’t want to be sent back to her country and leave her family behind. She had lived in the Us for what felt like forever. She had no one in El Salvador. My dad found a lawyer the very next day and after ten days the lawyer reviewed the case and said if the letter of deportation was never received, my mom had a chance of fixing her immigration status.
After that, my mom had hope once again, knowing that she had, good chance of staying in the land of opportunity. The lawyer started the process immediately.
“I prayed to God and put my trust in him. A day never passed when I didn’t pray. Nothing about that place was happy. Everywhere you walked, sadness roamed” After 30 slow days, my mom was given a court date, and this made my mom very happy. Ten days later, she had court, and the judge allowed her to leave that day on a $4,000 bail. When my mom heard that, she felt an indescribable feeling because she had not held her family for 40 days. My mom’s perspective on life changed. She learned to value life in America, that everything that you do in life, whether it be good or bad, has consequences.”
My mom’s story is unlike other stories, but still so similar to the millions of immigrants who come to the U.S. in search of a safer and better life. My mom has worked so hard to get to where she is now, and she just recently became a U.S. citizen. She has gone through so much, and being almost deported is just one thing on the list. Even though this country is run by so many stereotypes based on where you are from and what you believe in, my mom never let those stereotypes decide her fate. In the end, my mom got to be one of the fortunate people who experience the American dream.
Javier Garcia Mosqueda
My family’s American Dream is to be able to accomplish all our goals and to be able to give back to our family. Both my parents came to the US as undocumented immigrants, and they met in the US. It was really difficult for them to get to the US. My mom is from a small town in Guanajuato, Mexico. My mom moved from Sanora, Mexico to Phoenix, Arizona on foot, along with a group of people led by a coyote. She had to make that walk through the desert at night to avoid getting caught by border patrol.
It was late December, so it was really cold at night while she was crossing over to the US. While walking, they stumbled upon a border patrol truck and had to hide. The coyote got scared and fled, so now my mom and her group had to continue their journey without the coyote. When they finally crossed the border, her initial reaction was excitement. At the same time she felt fear because she still had not yet made it to her final destination. There was still a chance of getting caught and getting sent back to Mexico. All of the stress would have been for nothing.
Even after reaching Arizona, the cold walk continued. She could hear snakes rattling nearby, and the smell of cattle was very strong which meant that they were getting close to a small town where they would be staying. Once my mom and her group reached that small town, they were able to camp out in a friend’s yard. Her final destination was Oakland, California, and when she made it, she lived in a basement and struggled to pay the rent because it was hard for her to find a job as an undocumented immigrant. When she found a job, they only paid her $25 for the day. My mom had to wait five years until she was able to get her green card.
My dad experienced a journey similar to my mom’s. He crossed from El Salvador to California during 1999, in the winter. He spent 22 days crossing, sometimes in the back of a trailer.
While crossing Mexico, it was really hot, but when he got to Arizona, it started getting colder. He crossed the desert with a group of people during night time to avoid getting caught by border patrol. He felt scared and worried while he was crossing because it was really dangerous. While crossing, they saw a border patrol truck so they had to hide behind bushes to avoid getting caught. They got away and continued on with their journey. Once he crossed, he felt really happy because he had made it safely. His final destination was Los Angeles, California.
When my dad finally arrived, he stayed with some family and found a job in landscaping. He was really happy he was able to see his family in California, but he was also sad because he was worried he was never going to be able to see his mom in El Salvador ever again. He spent two weeks sad and crying because he really missed her; he even thought about going back.
Jesse Gonzalez –
My family’s American dream is to live free and not be criticized because of our skin or race. To be able to walk the streets without being criticized, feeling free from how your skin color, race, or clothing is being judged. Feeling free means to not be ashamed of your skin color or race, Feeling free means not being scared of your own identity. Feeling free means not being scared to show your real self, being comfortable within your own skin.
Sometimes my mom would go to the store and get criticized for speaking Spanish. “Y el arroz?” said my mom when we went to the store. “This is America. Go back to your Spanish speaking country!” said a woman in a raspy voice. This shows how prejudice happens and how it makes people upset or ashamed because they are being stereotyped and made fun of because of their language.
Immigration is overpowering people and people are getting their rights taken away. This means that people with power abuse
others who don’t have the same power as them.
Cynthia Aldava Velazquez –
Ever since my parents came here to the United States, they have been wanting to have kids. They had me and my two other sisters. My older sister’s name is Nubiao. She is 17 years old, and her American dream is for everyone to get treated equally. That’s one of my American dreams too.
I say this because when we would go to
the store, my family and I would look around to see what we would want to buy and the things that we needed. There were also some white people that would just stare at us if we were going to steal or try to do something wrong. That made me and my family feel so uncomfortable, so we just left. The American dream of my family is for me and my two sisters to be successful; they also want to start a business, like a restaurant. My parents
have always wanted me and my sisters to become successful; they always try to make sure we feel like we are treated equally, and they always try to do their best to give us what they never had. That’s the reason why they came here to the United States, but sometimes it can get hard for them because they have three daughters.
My parents always tell me to try my best in school. Yes, I try, but sometimes I can get really stressed out, and I get really mad at
myself for not getting the work. That’s something I need to work on. I feel bad because they came here to have a better life, but it’s just my attitude: I try in school, and if I don’t get it. I leave it there and I don’t do it and I just get so mad at myself for not trying my best. I feel like I’m just making them get disappointed in me – anyways, my parent’s American dream is for me and my sisters to be successful. To make that happen, I will try my best, ask questions when I don’t get something, and not get mad at myself. I will walk across the stage, and I will get my parents a restaurant. So they can have their own business. So I can make them proud.
Malachi Franco –
My American dream is for Latinos that live in this country to be considered American. This situation is a predictable Latino experience. My dad’s parents and my mom’s parents met in Mexico then came here.
Christal Basurto Campos –
My parents came here to give their children a better life and future. The American Dream is to be successful enough to take care of the people you love most, and to help others that can’t help themselves. My American Dream for this country is to make laws that make everyone equal because that is how we were made. We were not made to feel hatred towards ourselves
because of who we are. Whenever we have people around us that make hateful comments towards others, it makes us start believing the hateful comments they make, Unfortunately, the
American Dream is often not a reality for everyone. It is usually only a reality for people with more power or with a lot of money,
My mom works as a house cleaner. When she gets home before me, I walk into my home and see buckets filled with bottles of cleaning liquids and bags filled with dirty, smelly rags, Both of my parents are very hard workers, because they had to work hard to be able to take care of their kids and keep a roof over all of heads. Seeing my parents get older sucks because I want to be able to give back to them for everything they did for my siblings and I. My dad works many different things, and he works a lot. Whenever he doesn’t work, he works on something in or out of our house. The backyard of our house currently has a giant rectangle dug in the dirt, and he also has two sheds that he built himself. Growing up, I couldn’t spend a lot of time with either of my parents because they were always working. So when my parents were working, both of my sisters took me with them and raised me until I was five years old, maybe six. Unfortunately one of my sisters left when I was around this age as well. Now, I don’t get to see her or my nephew as much as I wish I did. Seeing her leave was one of the hardest things I still have to do.
Sariah Rose Amir –
The American dream is different for everyone. The American dream for me is working hard enough to be able to give back to my parents everything that they gave up for me and my siblings. I am going to be analyzing the types of challenges that I go through, specifically because of my ethnicity/race or because of my social class. I will also be analyzing what dreams I have for the future of our country. Then will be able to show what is wrong with our country and society and what actions we could take to make at least a little bit of a difference.
The first topic I would like to talk about is how being able to get a higher education, like college, is especially hard for citizens who are middle class. You may think that it wouldn’t be that hard for middle-class citizens to get into college because they have a decent amount of money; the reality can be very different. Middle-class citizens don’t qualify for financial aid or any other of the benefits provided, but they can’t afford to send their children to college, especially if they want to go for more than a four-year degree. The average cost to go to college for four years is $68,948 – so they are stuck in the middle of not being able to afford it for more than four years and not being able to get any help. Families who get a higher salary are not eligible for any type of financial aid.
Another thing that can make college hard for middle-class families is, if there is more than one child that wants to go to college, they have to put aside even more money, which can lead to less vacations, less groceries, less wants and more needs, which no family wants. Another reason is that middle-class neighborhoods usually don’t have good schools unless you get lucky. For example, I live in a middle-class neighborhood, yet the middle school I was assigned to go to was rated the worst in the city. The high school I was also assigned to had very bad ratings. Luckily, I got into William Smith. The middle school I was assigned to had at least three fights a week, and teachers didn’t get help to the individual students. Kids came to school under the influence, or even did it on campus. As my mom said, “Since most middle-class citizens can’t afford to move into a neighborhood with better schools; they are stuck trying to find alternate ways to educate their kids” One way this could be partially solved is making it easier for teenagers to get jobs. This could help because if teenagers work for their own money and buy their own things, their parents won’t have to worry about buying them clothes and shoes and things like that. They could instead use their money for college tuition, or to go to a good private school to get a better education, or to save enough money to move into a better neighborhood with a better school.
I decided to write about this issue here because this problem isn’t brought up enough. No one even talks about it, and this is why no one has tried to solve the issue. This shows that money is a huge issue in our society, and it should be talked about – there could be some kind of a resolution.
One even bigger problem is being a woman and being paid less as a result. My mom works in a male-dominated field. She is a crime scene investigator (CSI) I know that she gets paid less as a woman because she has told me about this issue before.
She said that her male coworkers that do the exact same work as she does get paid more. She comes home with sights in her mind of dead people, abused kids, and lots of other horrifying things. When she comes home from her job, you can see in her eyes how tired she is from her 12-hour shift.
Yet she still comes home and makes dinner for my whole family. She still makes sure everyone in the house is taken care of, and that the house is clean. And she is my inspiration to be the most hardworking and successful woman I can be.
Another problem my family and I deal with is social discrimination, not just in professional places, but sometimes when we are just having family time in public places. My grandpa says that he was discriminated against his whole life. He told me that people in stores would yell at him to go back to where he came from, although he is from here. He is a fifth-generation Coloradan. He has brown skin and is Hispanic, but people just assume that he is from across the border because of his skin color. He also said how as a kid he fully spoke Spanish, but when he started going to school, the schools punished students because they thought it was a way to talk back. Therefore, he lost the ability to speak Spanish and can now only understand it.
My grandpa was also a drafted Vietnam veteran. People were very aggressive towards him because they were against the Vietnam war, and he would get spit on and yelled at for wearing his uniform in public. So he dealt with ethnic discrimination and aggressiveness towards him for being a veteran. He stated that although it was a rough time, he couldn’t do anything about it.
My grandparents (who are both Hispanic) said that when they had to fill in applications for jobs and write down their race there were only two options to pick from: Black and white. If you were anything except Black, you had to choose white. When they would go in for an interview, they wouldn’t get hired when the employers thought they were white but found out they were Hispanic – a deal-breaker for most jobs. It is a lot easier for Hispanics to get hired doing physical labor, but to get a “professional job” is extremely hard.
My grandparents bought their first house together with my mom and my uncle. They lived in a white neighborhood. Because they weren’t white, the school administration wanted to bus them to a “brown neighborhood” and a “brown school” They fought with the school district and got to stay in their neighborhood. My mom is a Hispanic woman married to a Pakistani man, so she gets double the discrimination for when she tries to embrace her Hispanic culture or my dad’s culture. For example, my whole family went to the aurora reservoir with my dad’s sister’s family on a Muslim holiday. My aunt and my dad were wearing shalwar kameez, which is the culture’s tradition. Because they were wearing these, caucasian people were yelling at us, saying to go back to where we came from and calling all of us terrorists. I was young so I didn’t understand at the time.
In the Muslim religion, we go to something like a church. It is called a mosque. My parents tried to make me go a couple of times to try and see if I liked it. Everyone there would mean mug me and point at me because they knew my family. They knew I wasn’t fully Pakistani, and they never accepted me into their culture or religion for that reason. Because of this, I never fully got to understand my dad’s religion or culture because I wanted nothing to do with the mosque after how badly I was treated there. I still remember walking in and feeling a bunch of eyes on me; it made me feel like I was out of place. This has caused me trouble to this day, because I don’t feel cultured at all compared to my friends. I was never taught anything about my Pakistani culture, and therefore I don’t understand my roots. I also don’t know much about my Hispanic culture either, because my mom never expressed it; my dad’s family did not like that she was not Pakistani. So she didn’t hide the fact that she was Hispanic, but she also never really expressed it, because she didn’t want my dad to be judged by his own family for marrying someone of a different religion and culture. This shows that our society still hasn’t accepted people for their culture.
My last subject is the American dream for my family and I and our dreams for this country. My mom defines the American dream as being to live comfortably and provide for my family, being free from discrimination and condemnation. My grandma’s American dream is having the freedom of traveling anywhere she wants. My grandpa’s definition is being able to sleep without locking your door, letting your kids play outside without having to worry about something happening to them, and just a more safe society. One thing my whole family agrees on about the American dream is that it is gone, and America is declining. According to them, the “Old” American dream for everyone coming here from across the border was working hard and becoming educated, and living successfully. Now the American dream is just being able to go out in public somewhere without being told to go back to their country.
My American dream is still the “old version” of the American dream. I want to get a higher education, have a career that makes me happy, and become successful. It is never even an option for me to fail. I always try my best in everything, and I think that by doing this, I am paying back my parents for everything they have done for me.
From the dreams of my family, I hope that America can learn that just because you have tan or dark skin does not automatically mean you are from across the border. And even if someone is from across the border, it does not make them any less of a person. They should not be treated any differently.