Friday, May 29, 2009

Sunday's Friday's Op-Ed: Is America Really The Land Of Opportunity?

America has been marketed as “the land of opportunity” for quite some time now. America has an image of being the place to be if you want to “make something from nothing.” After all, what person on the planet doesn’t want to live “The American Dream?” America’s dreamy image neglects to acknowledge all of the societal ills that proliferate on its land.

America- being as slick as it is- has also packaged and promoted its ills as craftily as it has packaged its “you are sure to succeed here” mantras. Cigarettes, drugs, and destructive life habits are made to look enticingly fun via the monstrous mass media machine. All the while, the millennium version of America pretends that its -isms no longer reside within its borders. Who should dare to complain about racism when we have a Black president? How can racism exist when a woman came close to being president? How can classism be present when E-True Hollywood Stories shows that you can make something out of nothing?

The media’s window dressing is playing a hypnotic trick on people to make them ignore reality. After all, we are now encouraged to turn to the media to get our daily doses of reality, (“Reality Shows” are popping up on almost every television station).

The truth is that all of the -isms are alive and well. They may have shape-shifted a bit and become more covert; but they are still actively at work. With that being said, I question if America is really the land of opportunity.

If hard work = Success in America, then why is it that parents who work two jobs still can’t afford to send their child to college? If hard work = Success in America, then why is there a “working poor?” Why are there people who remain homeless despite having full time jobs?

America has historically purposely punished, abused, and killed certain groups of people. It still does.

This country was able to build its wealth off of the free labor of slaves for centuries [SIDEBAR: Slavery is still in effect via the prison system & other systems.] Audaciously without ever even truly contemplating compensating their “involuntary workers,” America now turns to the descendants of their “forced labor” and says you can build a fortune on this here land if you work hard. In the words of Biggie Smalls, “How preposterous is that?!” This is why I feel like my life is an experiment.

I am laboring to build an empire. It is definitely against a lot of odds. If I accomplish my goals will it be because of America or in spite of it? I shudder to ask the deeper question of whether a woman who is where I’m from, thinks like I think, acts like I act, believes what I believe will be able to peacefully amass a fortune in America? History is not on my side. I’m still moving forward though!

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