My whole life, white America has told me that reaching the American dream comes from individual merit. My interpersonal relationship with my family and my environment's conflicts determines my success and how I see myself and others see me. Pulling oneself by bootstraps is uniquely an American creation, and has been hammered into the psyche of Black Americans and dangled as the reward for a solid work ethic. Individual merit has not worked for Black people or me in America. African Americans have historically struggled to achieve the American dream, even though they have sought assimilation into American culture for hundreds of years.
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