I'm an American.
That means that I'm already where everyone else in the world wants to be in order to have that "American Dream". A lot of people outside the United States thinks of coming here as the way to “move on up” as shown here, here, and yes, even one of Michelle Obama’s speeches here.
You know . . . each family member has their own car, we have 4,000 square foot homes fully stocked with all the Pinterest-able and Instagram-able fixins, we have well-paid careers or we are well-to-do entrepreneurs, and we are the happy nuclear family with 2.3 kids that are always ready to pose for that family photo - all of that upward mobility as long as you're willing to work for it. At least, that's what we're good at showcasing on these media outlets and these internets (and yes, I meant to spell it that way).
What advertising (and dare I say prop-paah-gaan-daah . . . in my English teacher trying to help you sound out the word voice) doesn't show is that that car payments and car insurance can cost almost as much as our housing payments; the cost of home ownership is so far out of reach, that many folks just don't bother; unless you're in STEM or TECH, high-paying jobs are far and few in between; and that picture perfect family is not as normal as projected. Now, I know what you're thinking . . . and before you say, "You know how many people are dying to come to this country (in your you should be grateful voice) . . . or . . ."Off with her head" (in your White Queen of Alice in Wonderland voice) . . . or . . . "All countries have problems" (in your entitled spoiled brat voice) . . . or even . . . "I think you're overreacting" (in your couldn't care less voice), I recognize that these are broad-stroke generalizations, but when you add my identity of Black to American, those generalizations of "The American Dream" become a realistic obstacle course, and for some, "The American Nightmare."
So, at first, I did give it "That good ol' college try."
I grew up in a single-parent household where I experienced a lot of childhood abuse and trauma. Add to that my public school education that only showed a video of a horrifically bloody childbirth and a parent whose best version of sex education included the words verbatim, "You stay away from those no good ass muthafuckin' niggas . . . you heard what the fuck I said!" So, abused and unloved, not long into puberty, I went to "look for love in all the wrong places", and became that all-too-well-known poor Black girl stereotype of being a teen mom at the age of 15, and was unapologetically thrusted face-first into the real world. I mean, shit was ruff. Shortly after becoming a mommy, I became a part of the hidden homeless (more commonly known as "couch surfing" or floor squatting") and I dropped out of high school. But later, I was directed to register in an alternative school for "troubled youth", graduated, and did what I was expected to do - get a damn job - any job.
Like many others in poverty-stricken neighborhoods, I was given the prescription of a college education being the cure all to having “The American Dream”. Not just for financial gain, but to gain the respect and freedoms of being an American. So, I pulled myself up my raggedy ass bootstraps and worked hard to not only get my Bachelor degree, but my Master’s degree. I obtained sustainable and respectable employment. I rented apartments in great neighborhoods so that my daughter could go to “good schools”. I became friends and colleagues with the right people. I became a member of great social circles in society. I did what the American narrative told me to, but some things just felt . . . off.