The American Dream Belongs To Everyone

I grew up in a family in which each day I was reminded of the “American Dream” and heard stories of the “grit” and the “drive” and “sacrifice” my parents had to have and give in order to be successful.

My parents came from India and immigrated here in the late ’90s. I am forever grateful for the life my parents have created for me and for the risks they took to come to this country. I am grateful that despite the immense costs, my parents did whatever they thought would be best for their children. Most of all, I am grateful for their incredible bravery to move to a new country, assimilate to a new culture, learn a new language and create a life full of opportunity for their family. Because of their belief in the American Dream, I have been exposed to wonderful opportunities. Every opportunity I have had in my life is because of their hope and faith in the “land of opportunity.”

We do belong here. Opportunities are not a privilege for the rich or the white. That’s the beauty of America, opportunity is a right this land offers.  My family has worked hard to earn that right. Despite their faith, skin color or race, my parents have been able to succeed in this nation because of opportunity and privilege that the U.S. offers.

Without that, there is no American Dream. Saying “Make America Great Again” is insulting. It’s insulting to the immigrants who have worked hard in this country to attain the American Dream. We do belong here because we make America great.

Being the child of immigrants will inevitably result in some sort of identity crisis. Whether that is during the awkward years in middle school or during the years as a university student, the Asian disillusionment crisis is real for many people. It manifests in several ways.

Trying to look “white” by wearing your hair or makeup differently, pronouncing your name differently for an American audience (even though we have learned an entirely new language for them) or even making up a totally new name.

I like to call this an in-between America.

So, who is an in-between American?

Someone who doesn’t know how to pronounce her own name.

Someone whose traditions and patriotism are constantly called into question, especially right before a flight.

Someone who is asked, “so how long have you lived here?”

Someone who is told, “your English is surprisingly good!”

Someone who is told, “you are so beautiful for being an Indian!”

Someone who can’t seem to find anyone who looks like them on T.V.

A citizen who is told to go back to where she came from.