The American Dream? More like The American Nightmare
( @artless.cauliflower / Instagram)
2020 has been chaotic for the whole world and this country. Coronavirus, Black Lives Matter, the election; all of these important events/movements are simultaneously unraveling in front of our existence. We’re living through an overwhelming time, but this year isn’t just bad luck; This year is an accumulation of the consequences that arise from a system built to cater to specific peoples, and now, now the system is about to implode.
It’s been made pretty clear that all of the systems set in place — whether they surround race, socio-economic status or law enforcement — need to be dismantled and rebuilt in order for us to see any progress or result.
It was inevitable that America — a country built on the basis of the genocide of the Indigenous and on the back of African slaves — wouldn’t be able to prosper long term. Of course, the damage has been done, and now, the only thing left to do is to throw away these systems left in place and reconstruct the structure of our country.
I’m not going to lie; this goal seems too tedious to be possible. Surely, no matter how hard we try to dismantle and reconstitute these systems, the very present trauma that the history of this country has left on its people has already caused too much damage?
Demolishing a system means reconstituting a new one, but how realistic is that for America, where all of the systems put in place are deeply defective and weak and have exploited large marginalized populations that continue to fight for the protection of their rights and their existence today?
I’ve especially begun to think about all this because of my Transnational Feminism class that I’m taking this semester. Studying the root causes of imperialism and colonialism has led me to detect the many places in which the two and their effects exist among us today.
The idea of the “American Dream” stems from the centuries-old idea that the white man is the only one who can provide economic prosperity and the only way to be opportunistic was to work for him, work amongst him and his peers. This mindset percolated its way to what we have now — America is the greatest country of all time and any other immigrant must leave the country if they don’t serve a “real” purpose.
The overtly nationalistic views within our country are built around white supremacy, something that is very much present in America today (the first Trump/Biden debate? Yeah, we’re trying to forget her). If there’s anything that this country has shown us, it’s that these attitudes are much more prevalent that we might have thought, so much so that it seems incredibly difficult to diminish.
Now, on Twitter and Instagram, I see jokes and memes about people wanting to move to New Zealand or other countries that have a just government and are better off. I’ve thought about it myself. How realistic is it to try and fix a country that is so broken and continues to break? Wouldn’t it just be easier to leave to go somewhere where living would feel easier? I would feel better knowing that I was living on a land and amongst peoples who understand the value of every single human life and treat these lives with respect.
But clearly, this isn’t the solution. Colonialism and imperialism are present everywhere around the world, even in the smallest of ways. Running away from the problem won’t rectify the situation. With that being said, thinking of all of the tedious exertion involved in fighting for progress seems fruitless. The goal should be to openly provide altruistic assistance beyond contrived borders but as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to lose faith in the innate goodness of some peoples and the leaders and politicians that make decisions on our behalf.
This whole piece is pretty pessimistic, I realize. Ideally, we should all be thinking about how to give reparations to those populations that have been and continue to be ostracized and killed, to abolish the systems that harm more that heal and rebuild ones in their place that do the opposite, and to look to leaders and politicians who have the needs of everyone in their best interest.
“Have faith in the young people”. I’ve been hearing that a lot from others, and it’s nice seeing that others have faith in me and my peers. And they might be right. I think I’ve got faith left here, somewhere. It’s been harder to find it, sure, but I have faith in us young people, in our diverse experiences, in our ability to care and empathize, to fight with vigor.
The American Dream we were taught about may have revealed itself to be a nightmare. But we’ve got the power to redefine (hell recreate) the American Dream and what it means to all of us, and we’ve got nothing else left to do but do just that.
So, I’ll just continue to fight these feelings of impending doom that come from the hard-hitting concoction of living your adolescence alongside a failing democracy.
Anushka Dakshit is a Staff Writer at Rowdy Magazine. She likes to read, watch really long films, listen to old Bollywood, and listen to sad music when it rains. She wants to use her writing to discuss the nuances of womxnhood and culture and is passionate about social justice, femininity, and words that bring her catharsis. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org