American Dream

by: Angie Santos

I dreamt I was an American. 

It had to have been a dream.

A nightmare where my struggles were invisible to the unaffected, 

where the fight for my rights was deemed unconstitutional.

A place where ignorance is used as an excuse for cruelty,

where human rights were viewed as political opinions

and oppression normalized into a mundane struggle. 

 I dreamt I was an American. 

Living on unkept promises and broken treaties, 

basking in the wealth of stolen land,

harvesting the fruit of forced labor. 

I hoped I was an American. 

But how can I be?

When my existence is a symbol of resistance

where the system fails us time and time again. 

Empty political promises stacking up alongside the bodies of our Black and Brown brothers and sisters. 

A mother’s tears falling on deaf ears, 

an erasure of our people through words 

or a lack thereof. 

I wish I was an American. 

But a birth certificate was never enough.

21 years of experience here and I was still not qualified enough.

I thought I dreamt it all.

A country’s fragile ego,

a jester sits upon a throne built by privilege determined by whiteness, 

children stolen from their mothers and locked in cages. 

A land descending into chaos and division,

protests as a sign of resistance. 

A country tired of its own hypocrisy, 

you cannot remake something that never was. 

That was the dream, the illusion. 

I dreamt I was an American. 

But it was just that,

a dream.