The American Dream

A lottery on steroids.

DOLLY FAIBYSHEV / PIETER HUGO
This article appeared in issue #112, now available in our Blueprint for a New World Series Box Set.

My mother was an immigrant from Egypt, and she was brought to this country because people believed in the American Dream, which is that America is like the lottery on steroids – everyone wins big.

Anyway, that first memory I had was being carried by my mother through the streets of Santa Monica, California, at some big-haired point in the late 80s and being taken into one of those places like a jamboree. One of those places where expectant and new mothers go to learn and do things with their babies.

Well, I 
remember going by this place, and seeing from the outside a circle of women with 
their infants doing some kind of game that involved singing and clapping their hands.

My mother walked in off the street and joined their circle. I remember the looks of horror on those upper-middle class women’s faces to see my little minority mother walking in there smiling and laughing like the rest of them and holding my little wrists to clap my hands in time with the music.

Then there was a little bit of language I couldn’t understand because my pre-frontal cortex was still about the consistency of pudding, the music stopped and suddenly we were back walking on the sidewalk and my mother was crying.

I learned that day that the world I now inhabited was a very strange one that had some desolate and alien god that lived on paper and ruled the world with an iron fist. And from my position in the universe, the very act of my existence had angered this nameless demon god, and that the only way to exist would be to fall down and worship it by some kind of sacrifice unknown to me.

—E.M. Radulovic