The American Dream a.k.a. the Hunger Games
What’s at the heart of the immigrant experience for you?
Diversity and understanding of how we are all united under a similar struggle. For undocumented folx, whether we’re labeled as alien, DACA, criminal, Dreamers, etc we still lack access to citizenship which allows the system (government, white supremacy, rich capitalist) to exploit us and deny us from our human’s right to healthcare, education to different extent depending on your location and type of education, housing to a certain extent with background check and need to SSN, and etc. There’s specific as to how black and trans folx in our community are heavily targeted and are more prone to violence by the state than other counterparts. Despite all of that, we still thrive and rise with our skills, innovations, culture, and social capital (how we have each other and community). The experience I have as an immigrant is waking up from the American Dream to the reality of oppression that goes deeper than my lifetime, my background, and my experience in the US. It is a cycle of exploitation and colonialism that has created wealth for this country off the backbones of migrants, slaves, and natives. However, it is also a place where we can celebrate diversity and solidarity of everything that we’ve learned from each other from spiritual practices to delicious food to customs to revolutionary tools paved by black folx. In all, my experience has been a lot of learning, unlearning, community, and solidarity.
What messages do we receive about the undocumented community in society? Is institutional and/or media representation acknowledging the breadth of the struggles faced? Are the experiences we do have access to represented accurately? Whose voices are missing? How is the language used to describe the undocumented identity affecting the community’s views on itself?
Divide and conquer is really the main underlying message. They divide us into good vs bad immigrants and blame all their oppression on the fact that they are bad immigrants and incentivize us to be good immigrants by their standard to keep us working for them and keep hoping for change that’ll never come. They never fix the broken immigration system that justify caging children, denying access, and criminalizing folx. They simply band aid and do the bare minimum to keep us hoping. In reality, people are people and we all have done good and bad deeds, but it doesn’t define us to a simple binary. There are layers into laws and lack of opportunities that pushes people to survive or affected folx mentally in destructive ways. We are missing a lot of voices - the diversity in the movement and uplifting the most marginalized folx who might have barriers with their language or are too busy hustling and surviving or have been locked up or deported. We are more than good and bad immigrants. We are people who are resilient and thriving who deserve basic humanity and joy in life.
What do you believe “The American Dream” meant to your community? What does it mean now, what impact has it left? What does this do to the collective mind, body and soul? How does this affect dynamics within the community? What are the ways in which you have seen these tensions manifest in the struggle for survival?
American Dream meant a better life, but it is an unrealistic expectation and a false advertisement to our community. We are not given tools to succeed and are blamed for not succeeding and for needing to do what we need to do to survive. Sometimes it is a trade off to assimilate and accept the oppressive system and to be white washed and give up parts of ourselves to bend over backward and work extra hard to be “accepted” as their token. This makes us lose ourselves in the process of chasing an unrealistic expectation that gaslight us of the oppression that is happening. It also makes us fight each other for the scraps that are given to us whether be stealing each other shifts at a 9 to 5 where you’re being paid under the minimum wage.
How have you and/or your loved ones been impacted by the system? What are the ways in which it outlaws your existence(s)? What does the experience of being treated as the problem do to your health? How do these system endorsed methods of dehumanization affect the community?
I have been separated with my family for half of my life now at this point. I have had people in my home country pass away where I needed to just face the reality that I’ll never get to see them again forever. I've also been hopeless at a young age of all the things I can not do while I see people walk past me and question how am I ever going to sustain, survive, and support my family. This made me very restless and made me question my worth as a person since I couldn’t do much and lived in an unresolved past and unknown future. With all the bottled up emotions, I’ve developed destructive habits that took a toll on my health in the past. These systems take away your ability to live and force you to constantly grind with no real answer like that fake pathway to citizenship that never came.
Questions by Shami