By: Gabriela Yareliz
I was talking with some friends about the reality of what people face in this country. I think that as law students, we often sound jaded and bitter. Actually, we are jaded and bitter, sometimes. It’s no secret that we deal with life’s tragedies, racism and injustices every single day. Some of us have lived those very things ourselves. I remember mentioning the American Dream, something I myself have mocked at times. Everyone at the table sort of scoffed. How could I be so naïve to believe in the American Dream? The American Dream is long dead, some said. Everyone was kind of spilling their opinion at the same time (this is what happens when you have a table full of lawyers and law students).
Still, my view of the American Dream has matured. To me, it’s not so much about the white picket fence, but I recognize that people’s choices can take them far in this country. Choices and hard work can take you farther here in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world. My friends at the table begged to differ because apparently many have the view that people have no choice. I beg to differ. I have seen too many people in my life succeed when everything was against them. Some argued that those are exceptional people. I say no one is born exceptional, but through our choices, as we continue to fight against the odds, our choices make us exceptional along the way.
As it is Hispanic Heritage Month, my mind went back to this notion of the American Dream. You know what, I won’t lie. The struggle is real out in the streets. Being able to pay even a rent stabilized apartment is difficult, and feeding your family is comparable to a luxury at times with the price of food these days. But you know what? When I think of the American Dream, I think of the mother on the sidewalk selling mangos and water bottles who is happy because she knows her children are safe. I think of the father who works long hours in construction because his dream is to see his child study. Not all of our dreams are the same. The American Dream is what you choose it to be in your heart. The American Dream isn’t always about having, but sometimes it’s about sacrificing. This Hispanic Heritage Month, I want to recognize the Latinos in this country who I see making their dreams come true every day at their jobs, during their long hours, through their sweat, through their love and through their faith.
I thought the American Dream was dead, until I took a good look around me and saw families pressing forward for a better tomorrow. I also took a good look at how far God has taken me.
When I say I am Latina, I am proud to belong to a culture that is known for its hard work and its persevering spirit.
In my heart and mind, all of these fighters and persevering people have made it in this country. My people, mi gente, every day, you are the ones who show me that the Dream is still breathing; the Dream is achieving–the American Dream is still alive because you give it life.
I wanted to share a story to inspire you (see video below). Because with God, hard work and hope, all things are possible.
This post celebrates all who keep the Dream alive.
Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa
“It doesn’t matter if you are successful or not, what matters is that you give the world the best, and the best will come back to you.” -Dr. Quiñones-Hinojosa
Keep the Dream alive. Make the choice. Dare to dream.