Published May 29, 2015
Gazing up at the towers on high
Brick and bone, ivory gleams
The road to Higher Education just ahead
Long and treacherous, I pause, take the first step.
I’m told I should be somebody, better than me
“Work hard,” they say, “it’s all up to you.”
They forget my ancestors have never walked this journey
First in my family to get this far
No one to guide me on what to do.
I’m alone to find my own path, to seek knowledge
Is it really true, I can become one too?
Or am I a statistic, part of a national epidemic
Of people just like me, struggling to navigate
But our doors don’t open as easily, nor as equally.
Little did I know there are keepers at the gates
Holding the keys to knowledge
But it’s already centuries too late
Locked and bound to Washington, bill and capitol
Opportunities less than equal for me
The first to pursue the Dream.
Walking down these academic halls and spaces
Like an impostor, invisible, getting lost
Keep still, keep seated, keep silent, am I a social ill?
Sacrificing my tongue, my history, my very imagination
Just so that I might get a decent education.
I am the Dreamer with a brilliance unrecognized
By your tests and grade-point-averaged measures.
I am the Dreamer with bills to pay and kids to feed
Worried which, tuition or groceries, should be top priority.
I am the Dreamer, young and living on my own
Aspiring to get out of the only world I’ve ever known.
Having to find my own way
Move up through the echelons of society
I will make it, yes in debt, need to repay what I’ve received
Give back to the community that gave up everything for me.
I will return not quite the same as I left it
And my people see it in the deprived ache in my eyes
My posture straightened, my mouth carrying fifty-dollar words
In their misapprehension, I’ll be reminded of one thing.
That there’s still work to do, because in the end
I am not an investment, but a promise
This degree isn’t just ink on paper
I will use it to make me, my family, my community free
From this educational poverty.
So that I become a higher power
Academic solitary gives way to community solidarity
I know this much is true: it’s my turn to help carry
The burden for others, people resembling me
Like the ones before me, the only ones who gave me a chance.
We’re the face of the future, inheriting the voice of the past.
The first-generation dreamers, we won’t be the last.