By Leslie Santibanez
America is known as the land of opportunity. People all over the world flock to the United States in search of the American dream.
But it isn’t real. The dream many people risk their lives for is long gone.
The white picket fence family is a relic of the past. Before, a simple blue collar job was enough to buy a house and support a family.
Now people work two or more jobs to afford basic necessities. Minimum wage isn’t enough.
It’s easy to believe hard work will get you places. The reality is, hard work doesn’t guarantee a job or financial stability.
As a daughter to Mexican immigrants, this idea is pure blasphemy. To my parents, hard work is the answer.
In a way, I’m a physical embodiment of the American dream for them. But when I try to tell them it isn’t simple anymore, they refuse to believe me.
According to The Guardian, poor people, especially White Americans are 20 times less likely to believe hard work will get them ahead compared to poorer Latin Americans.
This mindset leads my parents to believe you can walk up to a store and ask for a job.
I had to get countlessly rejected before I got my first job. This was for fast food, a job that some consider to be beneath them.
Working in fast food exposed me to the struggles my co workers faced.
Many worked up to three jobs and it still wasn’t enough.
NBC states, “the average cost of living in the U.S., is more than $65,000 a year for a family with two adults and two children. That’s roughly $50,000 more than what a minimum-wage worker earns.”
Minimum wage workers in the ‘50s, “could pay rent for a month for less than a week and a half of full-time work.”
That isn’t possible anymore, not even with a college degree.
The idea of college was drilled into my mind. My purpose from day one was to break my family out of poverty.
This idea was reinforced by being placed in honors programs in high school. To them I was destined to go to UCLA but here I am.
My parents don’t understand the landscape has changed.
College graduates are riddled with debt, the poor get poorer, and the dream strays further away.
When people can’t afford to live, not even with a college degree it signifies that the American dream is dead.