America is built on the concept that success is a publicly accessible commodity. That is, the American legend is that Lady Liberty’s good juju stretches from her shining copper skin to the far shores of the US territories, carrying with it all the promises of good juju and the blessings of a common dream for prosperity and happiness.
What reality has shown over the course of history in this nation, however, is a reality far dimmer than the shine of sunshine on copper. Instead, it is a reality basked in the glory of genocide, segregation, and unequal privilege. But even though success has historically been most readily and unequally afforded to a select group of individuals— beginning with the very Constitution of this land and continuing on through the Amendments— is modern opportunity beyond attainment for those who were born beyond its reach?
Some studies suggest that the US’ social policy infrastructure is established in a way that prevents the establishment of status for those who were not born with it. That is— for those who were born in poverty (brown, othered or otherwise broke individuals), the system is set up such that they are to stay disenfranchised, and remain in poverty. Recently, the New York Times released an article which refers to the Opportunity Atlas— a data repository developed over years of census information which tracks the economic mobility of people across generations.
But what I find to be most poignant about this is the failure of the discussion to open to equity of information. Why are we not discussing how people learn about money and spending, about setting goals and building towards that dream? And beyond learning about patterns of learning (or lack of learning), why are we not interrupting those patterns.
Here is where I challenge you to be defiant. As a child of the rebellion— of the tribes who fought and died for this land, of the slaves who built, fought and died for this place, and for immigrants who labored to learn and grow here— I believe in defiance and welcome you to the information I’ve learned over the years.
Thicken your grits. Never let this world shake you.
Make being great your boldest act of defiance.
We will not only share our stories with you, but we will guide you, sharing the tools which allow you to write your own stories and change those of your future generations. Shine on.