- - Monday, May 10, 2021

The city of Philadelphia is filled with history. Living right outside the birthplace of freedom, I’ve visited many of its historical sites and museums. I’ve admired icons such as the Liberty Bell, whose crack speaks to the fragility of a nation’s freedom — a fragility that is … never more than one generation away from extinction.” 

This past January, we saw the swearing in of a new White House comprised of the most radical Democrats, who favor big government handouts, the federalization of local and state governments, and taking a paternalistic approach to interacting with its citizens. This type of bureaucratic dependence, unprecedented government shutdown and porous southern border spells significant trouble for every American (specifically those Americans who were not born with a silver spoon in their mouth). It spells the end of the American Dream.  

The American Dream carries with it the possibility of upward mobility and a better life. It’s a possibility of carving out a life for you and your family. The American Dream is about hope — and hope can extract courage from even the most timid souls. It can light the tiniest flicker of optimism and embolden the smallest mustard seed of faith. 

I cannot imagine a bleaker, darker example of hopelessness, of feeling like you don’t belong, than that of being a slave. However, even today, many Black Americans feel as though they don’t belong to their nation of birth. They feel as if the ideal of America belongs to the White man alone.

And it doesn’t help that liberal politicians have used the stains of past slavery and today’s individual racism to help perpetuate a victimhood mentality in the Black community.

But those who feel disenfranchised from the American Dream need to take a lesson from the Black slaves who looked over into the White man’s world and seized some of that hope for themselves. They saw a flicker of light in a dark room — a spark of hope — and made that American Dream their own. You see, patriotism breeds hope. A sense of ownership breeds hope. Governing one’s own life breeds hope. And hope produces opportunity.

The American Dream is impartial. It is not complete or handed to most Americans at birth. It is something that I had to work for and strive for, and I know I’m not alone.  

The greatest obstacle I have found to achieving the American Dream is how I perceive myself. As a man (or woman) thinks, so is he (or she).  What I think about myself can hinder me more than any amount of racism. But today, the erring racial construct of Critical Race Theory (CRT) threatens the mental imprisonment of our children and younger generations into predetermined boxes that categorize them as either the oppressor or the oppressed. This slippery slope logic on which the CRT curriculum stands encourages victim-like behavior from people like me — a Black woman.

America is not a perfect nation — but there is no close second. Yes, I have the blood of slaves coursing through my veins, but I would be remiss if I spent my life decrying victimhood and rebelling against the oppression of my ancestors. It would be an irreverent display of untapped potential on my ancestors’ behalf for me to not succeed in this world. I will not allow for their past suffering to have been for naught. I have had the privilege of truly living the American Dream.  My journey is not complete, but it represents all that is good about this country. 

I grew up on a pig farm in southern Alabama in a one-stop-sign town in a restful and rustic corner of the world. I never knew just how impoverished I was until I grew up. When my grandmother would ask me to help her in the garden, I thought she just wanted to spend quality time with me. I never knew it was for our survival. If we ever wanted greens or beans on our plate, it had to come from the effort of our own two hands. In addition to being raised as what many would consider “disadvantaged,” I’ll add one more stumbling block to my success: I’m the by-product of a rape. 

Yet, despite my beginnings, I was the first in my family to complete college. I spent 10 years in the Armed Forces Reserves, where I was accepted into Officer Candidacy School. I’ve worked in the financial industry, corporate America, and as an adjunct professor of corporate finance. For over four years, I have been a regularly featured guest on national media. I am an author. And now, I am running for U.S. Senate. I owe my success to the work ethic I gleaned from my family. 

Growing up, I never had to wrestle with a psychological lack planted in my mind by the likes of a Critical Race Theory equivalent. No one ever told me I was a victim. So I went out into the world and succeeded.

In July 2017 in Warsaw, Poland, former President Donald Trump had the temerity to state, “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.” 

Yes, our nation is being intentionally unraveled, but will America continue to emerge as a world leader — and does America have the will to do so? To successfully contend with the onset of this fourth industrial revolution, Americans must remain competitive in leveraging our nation’s upward mobility that is reaped by each individual’s version of the American Dream in the face of curricula and administrations that threaten our founding principles of Freedom and Independence. 

• Kathy Barnette is a Republican candidate running for the U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania. She is a veteran, a former adjunct professor of corporate finance, a conservative political commentator, an author, a proud wife and mother of two.

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