Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Dream is the American Dream

There was this dream my parents had, and their parents before them. It consisted of them coming to the United States, making some money and then returning to Mexico to live out their life with their earnings - The American Dream. I've found this to also be a common trope in Chicano literature, and really in Chicano Studies.  I was discussing my dissertation with my committee chair and a sentence where I mention that a family in one of the novels I'm using for my dissertation is in pursuit of The American Dream; he said I should refer to it as "The Dream," not the "The American Dream." His whole rationale was that it's not the dream of Americans, it's a dream of success that Mexicans have.

I understand his rationale, it's the dream of Mexicans, therefore it's their own personal dream, whereas the dream for African-Americans is another, as it is for Chinese, or Polish, etc. I understood, because is it really the American Dream, when there's Mexican families that want to return to Mexico to invest their money in home ownership there? Wouldn't that make it the Mexican Dream? I get this, but it's still hard for me to buy into my professor's interpretation, I guess because so many Mexican families end up staying here and not going back to Mexico to live permanently. I remember my father mentioning coming here to make money, then wanting to return home to Mexico. Both of my parents families in fact believed they would come here, make money, and then go back to live there. But it never happened. Of course they would go back about once a year during the holidays for about a couple of weeks, but then they would be back to their jobs in our hometown. During that time my hometown was like a ghost town, because the majority of the population there consisted of Mexicans who headed to their home towns in Mexico for las fiestas navideƱas.

Permanent residence in the U.S. for my father and his siblings was sealed when they brought their mother to California. After that, there wasn't much talk about going back to Mexico. Of course there was still mention of it, but there wasn't any follow through. My dad's father actually lived for the most part in Mexico, but would come to California to visit usually during the holidays, when the families started to drift toward staying in California for the holidays as oppossed to flying down to Mexico. My parents even went so far as buying property in Mexico, because that's how much they believed they would go back to spend the rest of their lives there. The property is still there, but we have yet to set a date for when we'll move into it.

For the longest time, my dad only wanted to rent an apartment, until my mother convinced him that they should invest in purchasing a home in our California hometown. It used to be one rental to the next before that, because the thinking was "why rent, when we're going to go back to Mexico anyway?"

This is what I understood "The Dream" to be for many Mexicans. In fact I have a hard time not believing that, that might have been the goal for about 95-99% of the Mexican population in my hometown. But then then they all just kinda ended up in a situation where it was just easier to stay because they became accusmtomed to life here or because all of their family, parents included were all living in the U.S., so why not just settle here? Then eventually home ownership in the U.S. becomes the plan as opposed to homeownership in Mexico.

Soon enough the American Dream isn't about the streets paved in gold, or shoveling the money off the streets, as I've read it interpreted. The American Dream becomes about working your ass off, because your country doesn't provide a decent wage. But the very exact same thing can be said about being in this country. So as my professor prefers the "The Dream," I still have a hard time buying into it, even though I get the semantics behind his interpretation. Maybe I'm just a stubborn person that has a hard time with that, because The American Dream is one of those tropes in literature that has been established, then again it is American's who established the trope as the American Dream, because it was people coming into this country to make their dreams come true in America. Then of course you can get into the whole discussion about America and the Americas, because geography dictates something different. But Americans or Euroamericans have embraced (or jacked it, and were like "Mine! Mine! Mine!") America as theirs, and there is only one America, and that America is the land of opportunity, it is the land where everyone else wants to come and make their monetary dreams come true so that they can feel happiness or a fulfillment of their dreams.

Then again I might just be reading too much into all of these things. I should just go back to writing about taking shits, priests, and pussy. Wait, that right there could be somebody's American Dream.



  1. "It's called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it." - George Carlin