Dreamers & Impostors

By Rosa Conrad and Matthew Chase

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.

FIU_wowI’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

images-1Expected to know what it takes to be an academic.

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.

ivory-towerI seek a higher education from your ivory towers

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.

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