Once we live at a place for long, inevitably, most of us will start to take things for granted and be numb to the good, the bad, and the ugly. At times, an outsider’s pure observation is what is needed to remind us again of the reality and to wake us up from our numbness.
Mom visited the United States of America for the first time last year. Aside from having been impressed by the scenery and architectures, she also became aware of the American racial hierarchy, of which was visibly in display in cities that she’d visited.
Coming from an environment, where there isn’t much of racial diversity, mom was particularly keen to take note of the skin-deep differences amongst the Americans. She said to me last night, “The people in the streets and the security guards are usually black. The suited up office workers are normally white.”
Her words made me cringe. Had I heard these words from someone in Toronto, I would take offense to them and say to that person immediately, ” Are you for real?” While wanting to tell her that one’s skin color wasn’t the ultimate reason for one to get into certain field of profession, I couldn’t help but be made to acknowledge the realistic lack of opportunities there are available to certain racial groups and their communities in the States. I was also forced to open my eyes, wider, to the hierarchical reality, facilitated by our race and superficial complexion.
In a country, where everyone, in theory, is supposed to have a fighting chance to live a life that is happily ever after, a great number of people, through generations, have been systematically deprived of and excluded from their American Dream, due to circumstances out of their control. They work hard in their lives. They try to climb out of poverty. Despite their efforts, in many cases, they still succumb to a destiny that those on a higher social and racial hierarchies have chosen for them. Their inability to realize their American Dream is not completely of their own making. But their unsuccessful attempt at it helps to continue and feed into a vicious, unfortunate cycle that their offspring, the next generation, who has the same skin complexion, will end up in.
I long for a time in near future, where skin color is not a factor in predicting and determining one’s prospective status, profession, and destiny. I pray for this day wholeheartedly!