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What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
I keep thinking about this poem. I keep thinking about this poem and our country.
When Langston Hughes wrote this poem, he was speaking clearly about the African American experience. How the American Dream seemed not for them. How their personal dreams so often were deferred by a system so entrenched that we have yet, in 2010, to dig our way out.
How unfortunate that now these lines can be applied to so many more of us.
The dreams of homeowners, dutifully attempting to hang on, only to have robo-signers and big banks take it away. The dreams of workers, trading their youth and vigor for a chance at getting ahead, only to be told, their energy spent, they aren’t needed anymore. The dreams of our seniors, who worked hard their whole lives, now being told to work a little longer for a little less, as they see their Social Security on the chopping block.
I think about the dreams of undocumented youth in this country. I see them in their ROTC uniforms, begging for a chance to serve. I see them holding their report cards, A’s straight down the length of it, begging for a chance to study harder, learn more. I see them, and I worry about another dream deferred.
Our country was built on big dreams. How else could 13 colonies stand up to the greatest empire in the world? How else could these colonies form a more perfect union, dedicated to justice and liberty? How else could we dig out of the Great Depression? How else could we rebuild Europe after the insanity Hitler unleashed on it? How else could we send a man to the moon? How else could we spearhead a technological revolution that put computers in your hand and the immensity of human learning at our fingertips? All dreams made real. All American Dreams.
And yet so many remain deferred.
In the next six weeks, Congress will debate and vote on the DREAM act. What it does is simple — if you were brought to this country as a child, are in school or have graduated from an American school, if you wish to serve this country or continue your studies and if you have no felony police record, then the DREAM Act would allow you to stay here. It would allow you to legalize your status conditionally and put you on the path to joining this country as a fully functioning citizen.
Yes, it would give them rights. Among others, the right to pay income taxes, the right to pay into the Social Security program, the right to serve in the military, the right to join a union and fight for the rights of others.
Right now it’s a dream deferred. A dream for people like Michael Nazario, a young man who grew up in Arizona and wants nothing more than to serve in the Marines. Or Carlos Roa, a 23-year-old man who is now studying architecture after being denied an opportunity to enlist in the armed forces.
Now the realization of this DREAM rests in the hands of 535 men and women in the U.S. Congress. Let’s call on them to do the right thing. Let’s help them to make this DREAM a reality. Let’s make sure that this is a dream that is not, once again, deferred.
Call your Senator at (866) 996-5161 and demand a vote to pass the DREAM Act.