American Dream Deferred?

I’m a young African American male with a family making a combined income over 100k. I grew up in a predominantly African American neighborhood, had a terrific childhood and went on to college to graduate with a master’s degree. I have friends that have become “successful” like me and then I also have friends who are in jail, dead or headed to both. But that’s part of the territory coming from where I’m from; it’s nothing shocking or unexpected. Growing up “the dream” was to make a lot of money to move in a nice place. The place for me was an affluent suburb of Cleveland with beautiful architecture and large lawns. But I never took the dream past the beautiful visuals. So I’m here, at success and can live where I want, but now I have a problem because the dream doesn’t seem as appealing.

What’s not appealing about the dream? The dream was big house, big lawn, nice shit. I didn’t realize it came away from people who look like me, people who love me, and people I can relate to. Its 2016, but you still have that feeling the people in those affluent neighborhoods don’t want you around. If that’s the case, why go somewhere if you’re not wanted there? That’s simple, because you want to be there.

Buying real estate for most people is the most important investment they will make in their life. If you buy the right piece of property it could be the fuel to sustain future generations in your family, but if you buy the wrong piece in the wrong area it could cost you thousands and widens the wealth gap. It goes from potential opportunity to burden/loss so the choice you make is very important, to say the least.

I work in Corporate America. I’m a black MBA with a nice resume and have had good experiences for the most part in the work environment. I know though, when I go to work, I flip a switch. Most minorities know what the switch is, and for Black men most of the time its more than a switch. The black man is arguably the most intimidating of the human species. But luckily for me my physical stature isn’t the most impressionable and intimidating at 5’9’’. So a smile and a slightly higher pitched voice disarms many people at first introduction. But the point is you flip a switch and you’re “ON” for most of the day. It’s draining and disingenuous. And when you go home you turn off and recharge for the next day. But what happens when you have to leave that switch on when you go home because of where you live and how you interact with your neighbors. It’s not the dream you had as a child.

My dream has evolved because I want a mix of culture/races and I also want to be around people who value the same things I do, I want to ultimately cut my switch off with appreciation for who I am. These places exist in the US mostly in major metropolis but I would love to see this everywhere not just in twenty major cities across America.

Some might say I’m overly conscious, aware or worried about what others think. But I am this way because I believe negative black stereotypes consume our community, it delays and stagnates our progress. And I ultimately want our community to be portrayed in a positive light so my son understands the strength in being black and he knows he is no lesser than any other man.  

The reality of the situation, this topic deals with some major keys to success in life: education and social circles. Choosing to live in a predominantly African American neighborhood now I would be sacrificing a ton. Home properties are devalued, quality of education is below standard, and my children will miss the ever crucial dynamic of socializing with diverse backgrounds.

 At the end of the day my children will suffer if I chose this new dream; poor education and lack of socializing are two essential pillars in a child’s life to mature into a successful adult. But I’m not so set on resigning to the “traditional” economic climb; make a little money leave your neighborhood behind motto like most other successful black professionals…

To be continued…