Eagle, Quetzal, Condor


Date: September 21, 2021

My interpretation for this prompt on the meaning of the “American Dream” is shaped by my perspective as a first generation Peruvian who grew up in Salem, MA. As with many immigrant communities who migrate to this country for the hopes of a better life than the one they have in their home countries, there was a time where I believed that if I worked and studied harder than those around me, I could achieve great material success for my family. While I still believe that so many working class immigrants embody this work ethic as a means for their family’s survival, I have come to understand that this narrative is rooted in an idea of scarcity; that we are lacking in the resources as a country and a continent to support all of our people, regardless of documentation, with the abundance and dignified livelihoods we all deserve. So often, we are forced to negotiate our humanity simply because of political borders that have crossed our original communities rather than the other way around. In my piece, I hope to share a dream of the Americas, composed of distinct but united regions effortlessly crossing between new and old homes. To me, no symbol represents this freedom of movement more poignantly than the three birds: the eagle, quetzal, and condor that respectively have been at the heart of so many pre-conquest stories passed down generation through generation for North, Central, and South American regions. By visually centering these symbols of life, we are forced to reckon with the need for the borders and scarcity and instead can look to our own peoples’ histories, the story of the land we roam, and the life we could all live together as a unified whole.