An excerpt from Marginal Eyes, Chapter 2
The fundamentals of what US culture says a child needs were never lacking in my life. My dad strapped me to his back and carried me to the top of the Indiana sand dunes; he taught me to play baseball in our backyard; he kept me with an active library card and read with me regularly; he drove for long hours on family vacations to places of national history; and he taught me the Golden Rule was to be followed when dealing with others. My father earned much of our living at a job he didn’t love, made sure I had a healthy lunch each day, saved up funds for my education, and even climbed a ladder with a sprained ankle to retrieve my kite when I got it caught in a tree. My dad voted thoughtfully in each election, bought Made in the USA products whenever he could, and made a point of helping others when they needed it. From big to little things, he did a lot.
My dad was a good, solid American dad, and if I don’t say so succinctly, this story will be incomplete. My parents actively cared for me, stayed married despite their issues, moved among good-hearted people, provided me with quality education, and I always had enough to eat, clean clothing to wear, and a middle-class roof to live under. Many Americans see this as the ideal, enviable life. Others would say it’s privileged. And it is. It is the American Dream everyone says BIPOC can also achieve. Despite all of it, all that a parent in our nation might hope and be promised for a child, by the time my parents raised me at great effort, by the time I graduated high school (with honors to boot), my cold conclusion was that life in the America I knew wasn’t worth living.
How did it come to that?
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