I had a dream, and I woke up screaming, gasping for air, choking, with a sharp pain in my chest, strikes on my back, bruise marks on my wrist and ankles. My body was on fire, my stomach was empty my mind was restricted, my eyes brimming with tears, my lungs full of water, my spirit broken, and as I stumble to the bathroom and turn on the light, there I am, in the mirror, perfectly fine. No evidence of the torture that my body, mind and spirit endured. Then I turned on the water, brushed my teeth and started my day…I had a dream.
I was sleeping, oh I was sleeping, I was falsely under the impression that the American dream was also for me. I believed that for the simple fact that my birth took place on American soil, I was an American so I shared the dream too. I once believed that equality, fairness, unity, and progression were entitled to me. I believed that if I just worked hard, everything I want, education, promotion, comfort, peace and contentment would be at my fingertips. I believed that if I just stayed in school, stayed out of trouble, stayed away from the wrong crowd, and obeyed the laws set in place, then things should be a breeze, there shouldn’t be any hiccups. I was asleep, and let me tell you I was dreaming good.
I started to wake up, I had to get the crust out of my eyes. I started to see the way teachers would look at me when I had my hand raised for every question, I started to catch onto the snide remarks of my “friends” for reasons why I had to give up a turn, or go last, I started to understand why I was rejected. I was waking up. I didn’t say much about it, but I noticed that adults would be surprised at my vocabulary choice. I started to see the patterns of not being chosen for better opportunities even though I was just as smart if not smarter or just as good if not better. I could recall a teacher asking me in the fourth grade, “Did your dad grow up in a house or a hut”. I recall the lady at the front desk of my high school asking if my parents were divorced. It began to make sense that I was not fitting in, the things that I earned, honors classes, nominations, awards and recognition were all dominated by people that hated my roots. I was getting the crust out of my eyes so I could see the way the world really saw me.
I am awake. The American dream isn’t mine. It was never mine. I see things today that I only read about in history books, I experience things today that I only heard about from grandma and mama. When I watch the news, I see yet another face of a black child gunned down in the streets like dogs. I see no justice for them. Tell me, how am I supposed to feel when people who thought just like me, stay in school, stay out of trouble, don’t hang around the wrong crowds, obey the laws, are killed for looking suspicious. I am awake and I can see that me being black and a woman is considered a double whammy. I notice the bold statements that are made eluding to a false pretense that we are inadequate in all areas of life, education, family, relationships, careers. I am awake and seeing that in all honesty it’s not just people from other races…it’s my own people too…I am wide awake
I stand in the mirror. Looking at myself, and I see all of my reflections. Me, with Ankara clothing, head tie and gold jewelry complimenting my coco brown skin, me with ripped and dirty clothing, with my hands calloused and whip marks all over, me with a nuce around my neck, me with sweat and scorch marks on my skin, me drenched in water from a fire hose, me in all black with my fist held up high, me in an orange jumpsuit and hand cuffs, me in business attire, me in a black hoodie and jeans holding an Arizona and skittles with a bullet wound in my chest. I look at all of me, and I ponder my favorite poem, “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun, or does it fester like a sore and then run…I looked at all of me, all of my reflections, all of my history, all of what made me the person I am today, this is what a dream deferred looks like. A dream of democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity, equity and freedom is what we want…but it was never presented to us as an option.
I had a dream that the American dream was for me. My father did not come to this country for anything less than a better life for me and my brother. I will accept nothing less than a better life for me and my brother. I will fight, I will scream I will shout I will cry until the dream that was not offered to me is mine. I will no longer accept a deferment I must have it now. Our time is now. My time is now. I look at myself again the torture my mind, body and spirit endured now fuel for me to start the day. I’m awake, but ingrained in my veins is a dream that I am suited up to claim.
I have a dream, that one day, my voices are heard. All of them. From the royalty and freedom of my African soul, to the beaten and tattered slave soul. My civil rights soul will shout freedom as present day me continues to feed the fire. What happens to a dream encouraged? It is burns bright like the sun, like the burning bush, it is motivation to run, run toward the fight and not give up until you have won.
I am awake, now, I must wake up my brothers and sisters.