An Open Letter to My Mexican American Sister

Dear Jelena,

I know that you might be too young to understand, but I feel its important to know what lies ahead for you. I know that you’re biggest concerns right now are fitting in with the girls at your school and having an ‘artsy’ Instagram, but as you get older, you’ll realize the challenges you will soon face due to the color of your skin. And I don’t want you to think that you are not beautiful or that there is something wrong with you because you are beautiful and there is nothing wrong with you. But the society that we live in today has large focus on the American Dream, a Dream that only seems plausible for those who are white.

I read a book recently called “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and when you get older I think you should read it, but the author talked a lot about this Dream and its Dreamers. In case you’re not familiar with what exactly the Dream is, the author describes it as, “…to grow rich and live in one of those disconnected houses out in the country, in one of those small communities, one of those cul-de-sacs with its gently curving ways, where they staged teen movies and children built treehouses…” (116). Now I know this all sounds nice, but life is not a fairytale, and things like money and nice houses don’t just fall into your lap just because you want them to. You have to work for what you want and earn what you get in return, and unfortunately, you might have to work just a little harder because of your background.

I also don’t want to discourage you and make you feel as if none of this is achievable. It is. But the fantasy behind the whole Dream is falsified and provides little reality to it all. Coates also makes that point that, “You have been cast into a race in which the wind is always at your face and the hounds are always at your heels. And to varying degrees this is the true of all life. The difference is that you do not have the privilege of living in ignorance of this essential fact”(107). And I believe this to be true for you. You can dream all you want. In fact, dream big, but do not go through life without a clue of the struggles around you. There is beauty in the struggle which makes the end result that much more rewarding. “The Dreamers will have to learn to struggle themselves, to understand that the field for their Dream, the stage where they have painted themselves white, is the deathbed of us all” (151).

Jelena, we live in a world where things are hard. It’s hard to be Mexican, it’s hard to be black, it’s hard to be Asian all due to stigmas and stereotypes surrounding each of these backgrounds. You and your generation have to break those stigmas; teach those around you to be more open minded and take pride in where you come from. This Dream is not unreachable, but you need to be realistic about it. The power is knowing where you come from and letting that build you up, not tear you down. You can do anything you set your mind to, which is exactly what I tell all the kids I work with at the elementary school. A majority of them are Mexican American just like you, and I tell them to dream big and reach for the stars because anything is possible. They aspire to go to college just like I hope you will one day and that is their Dream. Now go and make your own.

Love,

Angela

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