The America I’ve come to know isn’t quite the America I first knew. Some of this is from a false image of ‘streets paved with gold.’ Now that I’ve emigrated here for 35 years and seen the streets, I’ve come to my senses. So let me explain using a couple top stories from the Olympic Games & Presidential campaigns.
The dust hasn’t quite settled yet in Rio. Many athletes have returned home to big cheers. That wasn’t the case for Ryan Lochte who’s doing damage control. Meanwhile, the Presidential campaigns have been like a roller coaster of fact checking. So how do the Games & Campaigns jibe with the American Dream?
The Games were exciting. The Campaigns have been mind-blowing. This might seem absurd but who really feels Lochte was robbed? And who really thinks that the best way to handle immigration is to build a wall? What we’ve learned from these situations is the difference between straight-shoot and street truth.
As we look at the Olympics through the ‘media engine’ we see a commercial bonanza. But when we look through the social lens we might wonder about the ‘citizen effect.’ It is the citizen effect that tells us the street truth. For some communities the American Dream feels less like a commercial bonanza and more like ‘spaghetti gymnastics’ because:
- They feel like they’re competing against a system of inequities.
- They’re faced with setback after setback of event injustices.
- Their emotional sanity is challenged by repeated inconsistencies.
A recent report revealed American towns where local authorities use excessive enforcement to balance their books on the backs of citizens. The net result is a build-up of animosity and distrust. Then after a while the pressure cooker boils over into skirmishes and civic disturbances that catch officials by surprise.
Much attention is given to what’s happening on Wall Street. It seems there’s so much on the line. Others are pretty concerned about Front Street in support of small businesses. But maybe the folks on Back Street USA feel left-out or overlooked. Maybe the word on those streets gets lost in ‘campaign hustle.’
Some might say building a wall is a closed-door old-school approach. Others might see it as a gated-community ‘Wall Street’ kind of solution. Either way, in local communities it’s seen as another way of speaking over or speaking around the real issues and not addressing chronic social injustices.
It’s hard to explain to those on Back Street why folks from the other side of the tracks can catch a break but they don’t. That’s how some people felt on social media regarding Lochte. If it wasn’t for video he would have been believed. But even with video, folks on Back Street USA get the short end of the stick.
These days political campaigns can put us through ‘spaghetti gymnastics’ in trying to separate straight-shoot from street truth. Yes, straight shoot might be unscripted and happening in ‘real time.’ But it pulls us in conflicting directions. Street truth is what Dr King gave us 53 years ago with ‘I Have a Dream.’
So while the American Dream is alive and well in Olympic stories, it feels out-of-reach for others. We celebrate those who made it to the biggest event on the world stage. But for folks whose streets aren’t paved in gold, there’s a potential disconnect with the Games, Political Campaigns and living in America.
Groove-tracks: James Brown – Living in America – https://youtu.be/c5BL4RNFr58
Aerosmith – Dream On – https://youtu.be/qzTZ76vhnKk