By Diana Arutyunyan
What a great country – America: a place which is known for its freedoms, rights, law, equality, and opportunities. People from all over the world migrate to America looking for a better life for themselves and their families.
All of these people are searching for the so-called American Dream, the belief that anyone, regardless of place of birth, race, or nationality, can attain success and financial prosperity. But is that really true today?
For many years I imagined America that way. A land where people treat others with respect, a land where there are opportunities for everyone, a land where everyone can live comfortably knowing that rights and freedoms are protected.
What did I encounter when I moved to America, however? Disrespect, racism, judgment, and corruption. And I am not only talking about economic corruption, but also corruption of the American Dream.
Although the majority of people are respectful and trying to help, immigrants, women, and people of color experience prejudice all the time.
I came from Russia, a country in which we have many nationalities as well. We have racists too, lots of them. However, I have never heard of cases where police, instead of protecting people, kill people for their race. The George Floyd case still stands out as an egregious example of the racism plaguing the United States.
While there are many police officers who do protect people in this country no matter their race or nationality, the fact that cases like Floyd’s exist shows that the justice system works against people of color sometimes.
Another thing is simple disrespect. People have different cultures, beliefs, and opinions. Again, most of the time these cultures are respected by Americans. However, I personally have had to face instances where people would judge me for my opinions, choices, and cultural identity.
Even as someone coming from a country that is known to be more conservative, I can see that the United States needs a respect overhaul.
Culture is something which has been created throughout centuries. People are being raised within those cultures, making them completely normal for that person. Even if some aspects of other cultures might be not nice (such as not treating LGBTQ community nicely), it still takes time and self-work to rethink it and change your point of view. This is why, instead of judging, it might be better for Americans to have open discussion in order to help both sides understand.
Although no country is perfect, as an immigrant, I have witnessed more of America’s imperfections than those who have lived here their entire lives. While coming to America, all I heard about was its greatness, the reality was very different.
Maybe if I could have talked to someone who lived in America before I moved, someone who could have talked to me about the reality of living in America, I would have had an easier transition. But I couldn’t and this is why those high expectations led to my disappointment.
It is important to understand that America is not a perfect place. It is important to talk about issues that people have and perhaps that way America will become a better place, a place that people expect to witness.