By Jami Edwards, grants assistant
You may have heard of Casey Gerald, a Rhodes Scholar finalist, from his viral Harvard graduation speech that inspired his audience and fellow classmates with a stirring message of hope. But don’t expect a similar feel-good fairytale narrative if you read his memoir, There Will Be No Miracles Here. In his memoir, Gerald discloses the unfiltered truth about the illusions of the American dream through creative and uncensored storytelling that will keep readers engaged.
Gerald grew up poor in a majority Black neighborhood just outside of Dallas – in Oak Cliff, Texas. He was raised in an evangelical Christian household by his grandmother. His father went to prison when he was 12 years old and his mother often disappeared for years at a time. In high school, Gerald was recruited to play football by Yale University. He starts a nonprofit after graduation and goes on to receive an M.B.A. from Harvard University.
His success is a classic rags-to-riches tale, but the message in his memoir is very clear: his life is not an example of the American dream. It is actually proof that the dream is a myth. Gerald contends, “From the right angle, a boy pulling himself up from the bootstraps looks like suicide.” He believes the American dream is a dangerous illusion for marginalized people. It socially and economically alienates people of color, poor people, the LBGTQI community, people with disabilities and the deception is detrimental to the overall well-being of these communities.
Moreover, Gerald confesses that he was never pursuing the American dream per se, but chasing a sense of self-worth through the approval of others. In this quest, he loses himself, and the suicide of a close friend forces Gerald to reevaluate his own life experiences and accomplishments; and to rediscover pieces of his identity he kept hidden in an effort to fit the mold. So he invites us with him on a work-in-progress journey to unpack the complexities and often painful realities of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness through recounting his experiences in a poignant, but unconventional memoir.
If you are interested in receiving a raw and brutally honest depiction on the nuances of achieving success from the perspective of someone whose identities place him on the margins of society, then I encourage you to read There Will Be No Miracles Here.