...we were never meant to become raisins in the sun...
The good ole American Dream...
Have we ever really understood it? Broke it down and applied it to our everyday realities? We see it depicted in movies as ‘rags to riches’, we hear the sounds of the mainstreamers claiming their time to shine but how accessible is this really?
In the middle of this fine pandemic, we’ve had a front row seat to watching the American Dream crumble. Working to pay bills to survive was no longer the standard. As businesses closed, loved ones were lost and so were jobs, we began to realize the steps we were told to follow for happiness skipped the hardship preparation. What was ultimately the guide to joy became irrelevant as people spent more time with themselves than what was socially acceptable.
We were all programmed to believe that serving ourselves was secondary. We lived to work, we worked to pay bills, paid bills to lay our head safely (hopefully)...in a continuous cycle until our last day. I’ve always been the first to say that as tragic and truly heartbreaking as Covid-19 has been... it has also been a tremendous wake up call.
The time to ourselves brought about things within ourselves that were masked by the outside. Outside shut down and our minds opened doors to things we’ve never even imagined. So many of us confronted ourselves, realized how unhappy we were and seeked help, connected our traumas to current behaviors, came to understand exactly where we are and where we want to be. Before March, ’self-care’ and ‘mental health awareness’ were topics I heard associated with ‘toxic positivity‘ but now the narrative has been edited.
All that we know has changed. From the literal way we move in public spaces to the way we think. We let go of nouns that we outgrew to make room for visions that needed to be fulfilled.
“What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore , and then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over, like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags like a heavy load, Or does it explode?
After the explosion, we’re forced to regroup and rebuild. Figure out why things didn’t work the first time and how we can perform better this time around...
That old, tired, American Dream has finally kicked the bucket and thankfully we knew what to do next. Those dreams once deferred are now visible and have taken a new form.
New businesses are arising to replace the closures, people are becoming their own bosses and communities are being uplifted. Humanity is growing closer despite the world’s efforts to keep us apart. I’ve seen more smiles than I have tears lately, the difference in time is that I now believe those mask covered smiles because I can see the true joy through the eyes of those in front of me.
Congrats to us all for making it thus far! Times are still as hard as ever but the resilience shown throughout this unexpected, never-ending Jumanji game should be proof enough that the American Dream is what you make it when the message is more than well-structured propaganda. Happiness is obtainable to those that seek it and see it through.
About the Featured Writer:
Joaquin Capehart is a poet/author native of Queens, NY. In the fifth grade, he fell in love with the freedom of expression that poetry offered. Now at 32 years old, poetry is Joaquin’s purpose.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic Joaquin would recite poems in front of crowds full of strangers as JaeCee The Poet. In 2019 alone, he performed over 70 times doing shows in Washington, D.C and the legendary Langston Hughes House in Harlem, NY.
With a professional background in youth development, Joaquin has hosted poetry/life workshops for a program based in the Bronx & Queens for ages 17-24. And the work doesn’t stop there as Joaquin recently completed a 24-hour poetry world marathon; where he had to write one poem an hour for 24 hours straight.
The dedication continues as we await Joaquin’s 4th poetry book,
following his latest What If I Said which was released in 2018.