A Check for $900

Relationship: Child of im/migrant

If I gave you a check for $900, do you think you could make it in America? Could you eat, sleep, and breathe the American Dream, and have enough pocket change to keep your culture alive? For $900, could you survive? These were questions Mom had to ask herself when her plane landed at JFK from Jamaica in October of 1988. All she had to her name was a suitcase of clothes, determination to succeed, and a check for $900. She spent the next two years as a Personal Care Aid in Westchester, to put herself through nursing school. Every day she balanced school and work until she graduated with an Associate’s from BMCC. In 2015, she got her Doctorate of Nursing Practice from NYU. It wasn't always easy for her. She was judged for her accent and constantly battled stereotypes one of which led to Mom being asked if she had a tail. Even with the racism she faced, she worked tirelessly to become a success. Mom did not have much when she first came to the U.S., but she made the most of it. She became a nurse, educator, wife, and mother of two because of $900. That check is more than dollars and cents. It is the amalgamation of the blood, sweat, tears, and hard work it takes to make it in this country. It is proof that if you hunger for success, you can achieve your dreams. Whether you’re a Jamaican immigrant in 1988 or a Syrian refugee in 2017, Lady Liberty is waiting to welcome you in her arms. So, I’ll ask again, if you had a check for $900, do you think you could make it in America? 

Place(s): Jamaica
Year: 1988

– Briana Atkins

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant