Although there’s so much in this country that is shinier and glossier and more advanced, I’m not sure if the collective mindset is any different than the third world country I come from. They’re both places with attractive exteriors they show to make everyone else think that everything is perfect on the inside. Once you breach the barriers though, you find a hopeless and helpless lower class, a shrinking middle, and an upper class that believes its own fallacies about having all it has simply because they work harder than everyone else.

America talks about everyone having a chance to be great here, and in theory they’re right. All things being equal, very different people can achieve extraordinary success. But all things are not equal, and if we are to believe that we are products of our environment then the deck is severely stacked against the vast majority, which includes primarily the poor minorities. Mindset, background, geography and community culture determine far more in terms of success than does who works harder.

We come here from the islands with the mindset that we’re going to build a better life and live that simple American Dream of having a home, a car and a comfortable retirement. In the worst of circumstances, many poor folks who were born here may not care about education or a better life because their environment has taught them they may not live long enough to enjoy it, or that they don’t deserve it. The wealthy on the other hand teach their children to think rich, and to believe that they are worthy of great things. Then they help their kids to achieve those things.

People usually become what our environment convinces us we can be. The way to break the cycle is to begin thinking like the people we want to be, rather than the people we have been. So let us, wherever we are from, begin to convince ourselves and our children that we are worthy of more, and that it is worth the time, consistency and dedication of purpose to achieve our ideal lives.

Calibe Thompson is an author, public speaker and the executive producer at Blondie Ras Productions. Learn more about her work at