by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio published in The New Yorker
Read original on The New Yorker's website
In this brief autobiographical essay, Villavicenci...Show description
Posted 790 days ago
Althoguh this essay is specific to the struggle of undocumented immigrants, I believe it relates to the struggle of documented immigrants and a large amount of working-class Americans. The American Dream is to work hard to send your kids to a good school, for them to get a well-paying job that ideally holds a high social status. Villavicencio's parents achieved this dream.
Now the question is, is that dream broken? I don't think so. I think that the more important thing to ask is was that dream ever fulfilling in the sense that Villavicencio is looking at it? America is based on the idea of economic prosperity. Emotional fulfilment is, quite frankly, irrelevant and always has been.
As a child from a working-class background, I see the same issue with those around me. Economic propserity is absolutely something that should be strived for, and no matter how unfair America can be, with enough luck (you will need a lot of luck) and hard work, it's possible (not guaranteed) that you might achieve that propserity for future generations. Assuming that the prosperity will come with some sense of meaning, or even to reflect back on the generation that worked hard for it, I don't believe has been ever part of the gamble.
We tend to believe that the American Dream has somehow "hollowed out" over recent years. But I think that it was always hollow. Economic prosperity is important, and many, many people work as hard as they can to achieve it, but we cannot assume meaning will come from it. It never has, and never will. It will enable our future generations to live a more leisure life, safer from harm and disease and hopefully be able to pursure passions that they are interested in, but for the vast majority of us, the meaning that we experience now is the meaning that we will experience no matter the money we have. Society gives us meaning in life, not economics.
That's my two cents on how this article relates to other groups of Americans. Regardless, I really appreciated Villavicencio's story. These are important for understanding the struggle of immigrants in our country and are helpful in breaking down the distinction between "us" versus "them."