Immigrant success stories are closely woven into the concept of the American dream. In South Carolina, two generations of an immigrant family have worked hard to live out their dreams, but anti-illegal immigration laws have put even legal immigrants like them on edge.
I was born in 1970, sprung from one of the most aspirational generations America has ever produced: The Hip-Hop Nation. With decades of rap music anthems dedicated to our fantastical transition from poverty to prosperity, we rarely celebrate our wealth without looking back on our meager beginnings. The American Dream, for us, always represents the possibility of success and affluence on our own terms — with a watchful eye toward our hardscrabble origins.
Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 12:22 pm
Axl Rose onstage. In American flag bike shorts.
Credit Kevin Mazur / WireImage
What is the American dream?
A white picket fence and a walk-in closet? Mobility? The promise that your kids will walk an easier road than you did? Bank deposit insurance? Equality under the law? Showing up to your 25th high school reunion with a full head of hair and a fancy title? A Murcielago and a boob job?
And what in the world does that sound like? John Cougar Mellencamp? Lynyrd Sknyryd? Bruce Springsteen? Duke Ellington? KRS-One? Elton John? Jay-Z?
Juan Carlos Reyes is studying for his master's degree. The son of poor Dominican parents, Reyes is convinced his success is an aberration and wonders about the kids from his neighborhood who were left behind.