The American Dream

February 14, 2011
By strongchurch BRONZE, Silver Silver, Maryland
strongchurch BRONZE, Silver Silver, Maryland
4 articles 1 photo 0 comments

When I was 12 years old, I would often spend a Saturday night, sitting with friends, on a street corner of my town, in Cameroon, sipping alcohol and talking trash to the people who wandered by. Today, I am an honor roll student in the United States. Today, I am the captain of my American Football Team. Today, I am a member of my school’s student government. Today, I am the American Dream.

The American dream is a democratic ideal, a promise of prosperity for its people. This term, first used by James Truslow Adams’1931 book The Epic of America, states:

The American dream is that dream of a land in which life should
be better and richer and fuller for every one, with opportunity
for each according to ability or achievement…and top many of
our selves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream
of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order
in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the
fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized
by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances
of birth position

Mr. Adams basically summarized all what the American dream is about; rising from level zero to level ten .Battling the hardships and obstacles that life can throw at one, never depending on where your from but where ones going.

While Adams coined the term, the idea of the American dream comes from the United States Declaration of Independence which states “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain with unreliable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It is this declaration, this dream that the founding Fathers created that led to what Martin Luther King envisioned. He had an American Dream, a dream for racial equality and American excellence. The dream that changed a nation and made me today walk a free black man, the dream that allowed me to have white friends. That was Martin Luther King's American dream. This American dream depends on one’s view or definition of the dream but everyone’s view or definition has one common ground, is to strive for a better life. Maya Angelou, a living example of the American dream during an interview was asked the question “What is the American dream?” She said, “The American dream, whether attainable or not, is to have freedom, freedom in all things, to go as far as ambitions impels us, in work, in play , and religion and even love.”

The American dream is not for a lazy man. For the American dream is only attainable through hard work, patience and perseverance. For believers of the American dream this dream is a genuine dream. This dream provides exceptional hope for accomplishing success regardless of one’s sex, religion, race and sexual orientation. For the American dream does not discriminate, It is sex neutral, race neutral, religion neutral and sexual orientation neutral.

The American Dream was not meant only for the American Citizen, it was meant for everybody and anybody who was and is searching for a better life. It is this dream that drove Tyler Perry to become the rich man he is today, it is this dream that drove a civil rights attorney in Chicago to become a Illinois Senator and later become the 44th president of the Unites States and the first African-American President. It is this dream that drove a musician like Fantasia Barrio to battle her struggles and later become an eight time Grammy nominated singer. It is this dream that drove a single Cameroonian mum to search for better life for her four sons and her extended family. It is this dream that brings me here today.

The dream and hope for a better life is what I have always been praying for. In Cameroon, every day to me was just another day in life but to someone from the upper class, my life would seem like just another day in hell. From the day I was born it has been a constant battle for something better, for a brighter future. When I was born I had a nervous system disorder that caused me to twitch perpetually. Doctors did not have the resources to cure it, so they did the best they can. I spent two months in the hospital after birth; every body gave up on me. But I’m a fighter. A few months later when everyone gave up, I was healed; it was a medical miracle.

When I was growing up, my mum was a single mum. She was a civil worker; she was an English teacher. Some might expect that her job earned her great money, but that was not the case especially in a country whose government is fueled by corruption. My mum worked her heart out. Every day we had little, still she aided others and took in other family member’s kids. Her harsh past was not enough to stop her; she strove for higher goals. My mum had her first kid in high school. She became a homeless woman who ate food from the trash, yet her hard work led to us having a home of our own. There, we became farmers, planted our own crops, and everything we had, we made it ourselves; we grew crops like sugar cane, corn, beans, yams and we raised rabbits and chickens; we also had two dogs as pets. Life in Africa was going well so far and I loved it. Every thing we had was provided by our hard work.

During the period of living in this new home my mum started her journey in search for a visa to the United States. That led to cuts in the family budget, but we all knew it was worth it. My mum’s first attempt to get a visa into the U.S. failed. But in my family, quitting or giving up is not an option. So she raised money and tried again; this meant more budget cuts. But this time her return was going to change our lives forever. Each night I prayed and I prayed to the Lord to answer our prayers. To me, to us, America was another world; it was heaven; it was a change of situation, it was a land of promises, an escape route from our poverty-filled lives. We had gotten so used to poverty that, to us, it was a normal way of life; it was the way of life because everyone around us lived that way.

When I was thirteen, God answered our prayers. My mum was going to America. Tears filled our eyes not only for the joy but also for the fact that we were not going to see our mum for years and this meant a new home leaving behind all our friends and starting a new life in a new town. Because we were unable to afford transportation, we were unable to kiss our mum goodbye before she got on the plane. Now I lived in a new town. I got sent to boarding school; there I hardly saw my family. I saw them just four months a year. The rest of the year, I spent at school. Life at this school was hard and harsh. It taught me many lessons like to ignore what society and people think of you and to pay attention to the real things that make you who you are. It is also reinforced a saying my mum told me which was never cry over spilled milk. This school was a jungle, for it was filled with wolves and sheep all together. At this school I was beaten, punished, and torn apart. But the school made me a stronger and well disciplined person. Here was I, being called the most un-athletic kid in school. No sport wanted me. The only activity that accepted me was the school youth choir. I was a laughing stock at school, but the later product was good for it taught me about the behavior of people and taught me how to withstand the pressure of society. I was an outcast. They called me a pig; they called me a bastard. Life in this new town was hell. The abusive behavior of its inhabitants wasn’t the only thing wrong with the town. There was hardly any water and food was scarce. I had to walk three miles back and forth just to get water worthy of drinking. We hardly took showers. We just saved water worth drinking and sometimes we were allowed only a pint of water for a shower. The streets were filthy with no differentiation of whether it was humans or animals that inhabit the area.

While in boarding school, I got in trouble because I didn’t do my chores and as punishment I was supposed to be get 50 strokes by an upper classman who was my dorm head. So I was called up to receive my stroke on a Saturday morning after the official inspection. My amplified heart was beating out of my chest. I was getting used to the punishment but this time I wasn’t going to get beat; I was getting something more special, he said. Something more suitable for me he said repeatedly and so I was molested by an upper classmen. I tried to report the case but it was no use. He threatened me that if I did he was going to beat me badly. Also even if I did report him, the school authorities were not going to believe me. He was a senior and seniors were always right. So I buried that in me and never told my family or anyone. The only people who knew about the incident were my dorm mates who, also, in fear, remained quiet. What a harsh life I found myself in. Boarding school life was filled with so much corruption and mistreatment, and yet I loved it because it was shaping me. It was a great learning experience and it broadened my view of life and the situations it put us on.

My mum’s sister was kind. She took care of us like we were her own. My mum constantly sent money for our well being and for that of her extended family. In this town I learned a lot. I learned how to be a man and how to stand on my feet. In this new town was another world, I made new friends and a best friend. His name was Cosmos and he was like me; an outcast. I was proud of myself and my mum. Here was I now, going to a school filled with kids of the richest men. I was not proud of my background, because everyone around me seemed to have a better one. Sooner than I thought, my mum had raised enough money for us to apply for a visa into the United States. So now it was time for new experiences.

My brothers and I all took repeated trips to the American embassy, in Yaoundé, the capital. The capital was beautiful; it changed my views in so many ways: the tall buildings that touched the sky, the noisy street that never shuts up, the beggars by the church and the sound of good African music called Slams. Traveling back and forth, we finally got our visa. I was shocked. Something that was heaven to me was soon going to be my home but sadness filled me, for I was now going to say goodbye to my best friend. It was then that I realized all my life whenever I made a best friend, I had to move and I could not contact them. So I decided never to befriend someone to the point that I care about them as much as a best friend. For that reason, I have become more conservative person. On April 25th 2007 I arrived in the United States; the land of dreams and opportunities. My new journey was about to start.

In the summer of 2007, a month after settling in this new world I received a letter from Springbrook High School Football asking me to join their summer workout. I accepted. It wasn’t easy for me to switch from one culture to another that fast. Here was I someone from a place where people didn’t care about people’s clothes or their jeans or whether they where gay or not. This society was totally different from where I was from. In school, the classes were short compared to the 15 classes a day back in Cameroon, I was dazzled. My English was off and here was I in the same position I was when in Cameroon; an outcast again. But it was not as difficult for me as it was for other immigrants for I was more acquainted with English than they were and I was starting to make great friends and with their constant correction and jokes of my accent I started fitting in and I am still fitting in. A few months later I was on the team. I wasn’t the greatest but I made sure I gave my best effort. This new sport taught me a lot about pride, discipline and how one carries himself in society. Here was I playing a game I had no idea about. I formed strong bonds in this team especially with one of the coaches. He had in him all the ideas and wishes I had in my mind for a father; he was both passionate and compassionate, he had great work ethic, he was very motivational, had great respect for women, had integrity, was a good listener and knew just the right things to say. For this I wished he was my father but wishes do not always come true.

My real father is somewhere on this planet. I saw the man just once in my life. I’ve been lying, telling people he‘s dead. During my sophomore year in high school, I was great, had good grades and also won MVP of the JV football team and was one of the team’s captains. I also started lacrosse. I started wrestling last year and this year I am a champion in the sport with a record of 25-6 and working towards a states title. Here am I, the un-athletic kid, the bastard, the pig, the person everyone and every sport rejected, playing three sports and doing great. Here am I winning essay contests and becoming homecoming prince. I have traveled a long journey of pain and suffering and here I am living life, a life have experienced in life so far whether negative or positive, I view as a positive and great experience, for everything I have been through shapes who I am as a person and what my goals are. I have always wanted to be lawyer in life and then become a judge. Also my life goal is to be multitasked; that’s why I engage myself not only in athletics and academics but also in the Arts and I try every day to be unique. I have these goals, but to accomplish them I need financial support and for this I write essays and wish to get a scholarship that is going to be my starter by sponsoring me through college.

My dream has been unwavering since I stepped into this nation. Maya Angelou once said, “I am the dream and sweat of the slave. I rise, I rise, I rise.” I say I am the dream and sweat of the slave, the mind body of the founding the fathers, the dream of a nation. I rise, I rise, I rise and I’m still rising. I am the civil rights product; I am the dream of Obama, the dream of Martin Luther King. I am the American dream, for the American dream comes with the American story.

The author's comments:
I was inspired by how the American Dream has become a monetary Value.

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