By Rigo Gálvez
When faced with the question: “California: Beautiful Dream, Nightmare or something in between?” One can only speak for oneself, because the ‘Golden State’ is continually changing, and there has never been a consistent period that has lasted longer than a decade.
“Wake up and smell the homeless!” someone has jokingly said. Truth is one can only read about how it used to be, and imagine through other’s interpretation of her history; As far as her future, we are left with scientific predictions, based on statistics being drawn from some one’s personal laptop.
The sad-but-true reality, constantly reminds us, of the social, changes California has endured, since the invention of ink. Through the Spaniards we know of the different Native Americans who lived here before the arrivals of their ships. Through their mixture, the Mexicans were the new dons. Their idea of a dream only lingered for a relatively short period, just in time to be shattered and broken with the advent of a group of people who raised their flag with the picture of a bear resembling a pig. Like a plague of locust on the vast cornfields they multiplied, leaving a trail of death behind.
California has provided a place to live, to all who wanted or needed a better home, but in the process she has lost her luster over the decades. One by one have strived to get a piece of the pie, to catch a glimpse of the ‘California dream’, some are born and die here, faithful to “El Dorado” others just come, milk the cow and leave.
The state that has been filled with diversity and adversity from the beginning has her own opinion of the “dream” as she quotes a Spanish proverb: “todo es según el color del cristal con que se mira” (it all depends on the color, of the glass you use to see trough). To the executive making two hundred thousand per year, this is a dream land, the land of milk and honey, just as two hundred years ago one wealthy Californio said: “we live here like princes”. Oh yes! The bountiful land the missionaries carefully counted on. Until some else came as rain on their parade, thinking they were the new grooms.
Can some one call it the “California dream”? When going through the roots of segregation, discrimination or simply being victims of plain old-fashioned hatred. Or how about after leaving the sweat, blood and tears on her fields? Are we still dreaming?
While some can afford and boast they can ski on her snowy San Bernardino mountains in the morning, and get back just in time to catch a wave at Malibu beach, others barely struggle riding by bus in the morning towards the bosses’ residences, who live near the hills, just to come back in the afternoon, with less dignity, insurance-less, security-less, beat and tired, and most importantly, without the California dream.
“Go west young man!” They used to openly invite people, yet no one said: “go north!” and to those who did anyway, without an invitation, now they are being told to go back south by no other than our illustrious and actual governor. Just like thousand were vomited back on to the pacific shore, about a hundred years ago.
If indeed we are living in a dream, who’s dream is it anyhow? The vast majorities are poor, disadvantaged and unprivileged, Californians, with no chance of upward mobility. The “California Dream” is safely stored today alive and well and dedicated to the selected few, by the same token it is a nightmare to those who love to dream, and becomes a rude awakening to those who thought they had a share of a piece of the pie.