In today’s climate of an Orange God King presidential nominee, and a possible jail-bird who is likely to be our first woman president, it’s easy to see why things are so polarizing. It’s easy to see why politics has finally become something people care about in today’s culture. The day’s of talk radio being something grandpa listens to on your trip to the lake are along gone. I’ve come to realize that what some call privilege, I call choices. And what others call oppression I call lack of preparing for opportunity…that one doesn’t have a great ring to it. Let me think of something better.
Let me explain. I am a first generation latino american. Which means I get made fun of for having parents who are completely off the plane Peruvian, yet speak Spanish with an accent. My rebuttal…We’re in america…speak english (kidding). One thing that was instilled in me my entire life as my parents raised me was that America was the LAND OF OPPORTUNITY! That people came here to make something of themselves! And if I was BLESSED enough to be born here, with a father who worked his fingers to the bone in order to provide me a better life, and a mother who did the same, I should be taking every single opportunity to do so. To me, this mentality in itself is the latino privilege.
A mindset handed down from the fist generation of our families who get here to the 2nd, 3rd, 4th generation latino-americans of opportunism; that says we have to be better simply because we came here to grow. Our parents, or grandparents didn’t risk coming here alone (in my case leaving great lives) to lose it all. To have their kids and lineage lead mediocre monstrosities or to repeat the same mistakes. They came to live out the perceived notion of the American Dream.
If anyone in this country carries the American Dream, I think it’s the latino community. Simply because it is fresh in their memory. We hear it on the phone when we call our relatives. “How’s it going over there in ‘America’ with your Yosting Bieber y your Donal Trong?” “You have me en esnachah primo? I lov tha!” They have a cartoon version of what we know to be true. And in some cases, I wish is was really like what they believed. The American Dream is alive and well in us and I am living proof.
So what happened? How did I end up a hipster blogger?
Culture got to me. Who can I blame? I blame MTV. They shoulda just kept playing videos. I bite my thumb at thee Carson Daily! I decided that what was more important than seizing every great opportunity (like a Union Square NYC internship, or graduating from the most prestigious high school in the state) was feeling happy. Right out of high school I went to school for art because I wanted to be a fashion designer, man! (stoner voice) Then I transferred to school for graphic design because now I felt like fashion was too contrived and vain, man (total stoner voice again) and I just wanted to be able to do my art, man. Eventually I found my niche, thank you Jesus! Because I was luckily really good at Graphic Design. Thankfully, Graphic Design can also be a fairly lucrative and malleable career if you use it right. But that’s not always the case.
What I’ve seen happening more and more is the super smart and bright future’d child decides that out of high school they need to “explore” their options. So they seek out the major catered to their wants, which usually includes something like “Armenian dance theory” or “robotic sexuality courses”. Fair enough. Whatever floats your boat, dudette. My simple adulting analysis is this. How will you make money after graduation without working at Starbucks and without annoying me at my CEO office on Wall St. during your Occupy Protests?
THE OLD ME
So this was my life. Young, wasteful, artistic, and dumb. The opportunities afforded to me by my parents were trampled over by my feelings, my desires, my wants, my me me me me me me me. And I ended up broke, living at my moms house blogging. Don’t worry I’m a redemption story. I eventually started my own company and we’re doing well.
THE NEW ME
But here’s the thing. Because of the values instilled in me, I was able to understand that my feelings don’t make me successful. What others have done in the system of this country don’t determine my lack of success. Even if my parents are immigrants who have done what they needed to do to become legal here; they have given me a platform to become even greater than them. That can’t be taken away by a governmental power. That can’t be “oppressed by society”. My greatest privilege is not my skin color or my economic status but my values and my mindset.
I know what it’s like to feel like we’ve started out way behind the starting line. The only thing stopping us from prevailing in this world is ourselves. No one can fix our lives but us. This idea that the powers that be have a greater effect on our living than we do is the product of a victim mentality that makes it easier to escape personal responsibility. When I, as a latino realized that both of my parents came here without knowing anyone in the country, got jobs, became middle class, my father built a business, raised 5 kids, my mother 2, and yet I still complain about how difficult my life is…I realized I was a wussy.
But the new me is manning up, celebrating the victories of my family and building on top of what they have already done. I aim to build a legacy, one decision at a time, one moment at a time. Helping my family grow, building relationships and establishing bonds. And although it may not be what you may define as a legacy, that’s the great part about America, I don’t care.