Striving for the American Dream

Genesis De Los Santos Genesis De Los Santos ’15 shares her poem in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15–Oct. 15). Sept. 15 marks the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico, Chile and Belize also celebrate independence day in September.  The month recognizes the contributions and important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrates the group’s heritage and culture. The 2013 theme is “Hispanics: Serving and Leading Our Nation with Pride and Honor.”

Dearest Mami and Papi,

Your goal is to never see us suffering.
You do not want us to face the struggles that you once went through;
that’s the American Dream.
Right, Mami?

I love and thank you,
but I am attempting to pick us up from nothing.
Red-bricked project buildings,
growing up amidst violence,
surrounded by people who weren’t believed in,
I desire to be everything that you couldn’t be
and sometimes you even hate me for it.

Attempting to prove to the world that a child who came from nothing,
with parents who did not have much,
could amount to something,
something much greater than the stereotypes.

Not just another statistic
or data that doesn’t attack the issue.

I’m digging down deep,
to the root,
to the crux of the predicament.

This journey will never be easy,
but nothing is impossible.

As long as Mami and Papi live to see the day that I shine,
as long as they make it to see me do big things,
then I’ll be content.

I’m an individual and a dreamer living in a society that tells me that I could never amount to anything.

I do not have to prove them wrong,
I have no obligation to prove anything to anyone.

My goal is to see the day when Mami and Papi’s dreams come true.

So please, Mami. Please, Papi.
Do not ever say that I do not understand.
I am 16;
I had my quinceanera.
I am now a “woman.”

Don’t forget that I will do everything I can, and more, to see the day that that American dream comes true.

Success is the goal, but there will be many times that I will fail.
Just remember that until I give up,
I am not a failure.
And neither are you, Mami, or you, Papi.

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