Is Dreaming Worth the Ignorance?

Mom,

Everyone talks about “the Dream” and the struggles gone through to get to the Dream. You are one of those people. You left your country to come to an unknown world to pursue the ultimate life, the American Dream. But, do you believe you have achieved it? In A World Between You and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates talks about the Dream and Dreamers. Coates knows, however, that it is impossible for someone of his race to achieve the Dream and “there is the burden of living among Dreamers” (Coates, 106).

For you, the Dream was a stable life in the suburbs- a nice house, a good job, a couple of cars, and good schools for your children. Coates describes this difference as, “All along I knew that there were some, those who lived in the Dream, for whom the conversation was different. Their “safety” was in schools, portfolios, and skyscrapers. Ours was in men with guns who could only view us with the same concept as the society that sent them” (85). As a Black man, Coates knew that the Dream was an impossibility and that it was more of a burden to even think about it trying to achieve it. Coates has gone through life as a black man and seen the reality of this country. People come to the U.S. looking for the American Dream, but based on the color of your skin, you may not get it. “But this has never been an option because the Dream rests on our backs, the bedding made from our bodies” (Coates, 10).

This country ignores history to ensure the Dream does not get tainted, “‘Good intention’ is a hall pass through history, a sleeping pill that ensures the Dream” (33). Ignoring our country’s history is a passive way to solve the problems this country has, which is to not solve it. For people like Coates and his son, people do not allow them to ignore the “corruption and smelling the sulfur” (Coates, 106). They see all that is wrong in this world. The law makes them inveigh “against your own humanity and raging against the crime in your ghetto, because you are powerless before the great crime of history that brought the ghettos to be” (Coates, 106). Coates believes that this struggle is the only thing that his son is able to control in this world.

Dreamers are not living in the actual world, they ignore all of the bad and only see the good. They believe that “their possession of the Dream is the natural result of grit, honor, and good works” (Coates, 98). First, Coates explains that Dreamers must ignore the bad parts of our history by continuing to have unjust and unequal treatment for people. He has also added “the forgetting is habit, is yet another necessary component of the Dream” (Coates, 143). He talks about how Americans, whom he refers to as “they”, have forgotten about “the theft that enriched them in slavery; the terror that allowed them, for a century, to pilfer the vote; the segregationist policy that gave them their suburbs.” “I am convinced that the Dreamers, at least the Dreamers of today, would rather live white than live free” (Coates, 143). In today’s world, a century and a half after slavery was abolished, it is all still the same. Coates explains it best when he says that if Dreamers were to be awaken to see the reality of this world, it would make their Dream less noble and less just.

Everyone I work with at Young Moms Marin is currently Hispanic or Latina. They come from impoverished backgrounds and a history of being discriminated against because of the color of their skin. Like Coates, every time they get pulled over, they are worried about not being treated fairly. They are worried that history will not surpass this country. Every one of them is trying to reach the American Dream. Coates knows that he cannot reach the Dream, and therefore, lives through the acknowledgement of the struggles he has gone through and knows his son will go through. The mothers I work with are Dreamers. However, difference is that they do know their history in this country and they do get treated differently. But this is not stopping them. They want to retire in a home with a white picket fence. They want to drive nice cars and be able to pick up their kids from school without getting a look of disgust. They believe they can achieve it.

Back to you mom. I want you to know that even though you may have gone through struggles in your own country that led you to come to this country, if we, as a whole, do not address the unjust repetition of history, this country will never allow you to reach your Dream. One can only be a Dreamer for so long.