I think when a POC realizes how much of a lie the American dream really is, that can sometimes be the breakthrough moment for us in our process of “awakening” to our own oppression. Especially for those of us who grew up being taught that we can just work hard and “overcome” on our own merit despite being oppressed, that realization can be the turning point when your previous blind kool-aid fueled idealism begins to fracture.
Because we believed in the American dream so very much and tried so hard. And that’s why the moment that you realize in the current system you will never be seen as the equal of a white person at the end of the day no matter how hard you work hurts so much.
And at that point, the fractures spread across the mental dam you had built in your mind, and it slowly begins to first shudder and then shatter. And as it comes crashing down, the societal lies that you were taught in order to “keep you in line” and in your “place” come crashing down with it. You see the roaring floodwaters before you and recognize them for what they are–the destructive monster that is your oppression and that of others.
And as you look at those waters, and see the full extent of the catastrophic damage before you, you realize that you can never go back from a moment like that and to believing the bullshit you did before– American dream included.