“The Descendants” by Iris Hu
Have we achieved the American Dream? Pause. “Yo pienso que sí,” she says. That means I think so.
I think so… I think. I think we have. It’s hard to tell, depends what you’re comparing your life to.
When I was younger all I ever dreamed about was making my parents proud. I wanted to show them that betting all they had on MY existence would in fact pay off. “You’re special Jocari. Do you know why?” No. “Because you are a citizen of the United States of America. The first…” I never knew what that meant until recently.
It means pain. Pressure. Priorities and Practicalities. Being a U.S. citizen means I have the weight of all of my ancestors on my shoulders. Antonio. Ramonita. Ramon. Maria, Maria, and more Maria’s. It means I have their dreams hanging on my hips, and their worries tugging on my hand-me-down pair of Arizona jeans.
Being the first U.S. citizen by birth in your family is so much more than your passport. It is a privilege that makes you feel honored yet at the same time terrified. Terrified that you won’t live up to everyone’s expectation of you. Terrified that you’ll end up a stereotype. Terrified that you won’t make it.
“How do you view life?” the teacher asks. “I think life is like a puzzle, and every piece is connected.” I said that back when I was in 3rd grade. I think the fact that I identify as the daughter of the American Dream is a reflection of that statement. I’ve never believed that things just happen. I think we all have a purpose, and a legacy. Mine is to take advantage of the plethora of opportunity that was given to me by my parents’ sacrifices, and to change the world.
Whether that be my mother’s world, or my father’s. My descendants’ world or someone who I’ve never met’s world. I plan to make the American Dream proud.
-La hija del Sueño Americano