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In his first episode, Castro harkens to his 2012 DNC Keynote speech, in which he called American Dream a relay. Photo: Twitter
In his first episode, Castro harkens to his 2012 DNC Keynote speech, in which he called American Dream a relay. Photo: Twitter

Julián Castro takes a look at the true potential of the U.S. in new podcast, 'Our America'

“Why, in a country as prosperous as the U.S., are millions of people just trying to get by?” Julian Castro ventures to ask. That’s what “Our America” is about.

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Episode one of Julián Castro’s podcast, “Our America with Julián Castro,” premiered today, and the former presidential candidate, HUD secretary, and San Antonio Mayor centered it on his own perspective of the country he lives in.

Castro was joined by his brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro, and their mother, Rosie,for the inaugural episode, focusing on one question: What would it take to realize the promise of this country?

The U.S. is a country that in its very framework and constitution promises equality and freedom. But where is this prosperity seen, where is it not seen, and what does it take to truly take part in the most prosperous nation in the history of the world?

These questions strike a chord, especially now, amid a global pandemic and as the most poignant issues plaguing BIPOC communities for centuries within the country have been laid bare.

“As countless people face unemployment, poverty, discrimination, hunger. Where do we go from here? Join me to hear real stories and discuss actual solutions.” Castro wrote. 

 

He harkened back to 2012, when he delivered the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention,comparing the process of fully realizing the American Dream to a sort of relay that spans generations.

Castro encapsulated the story of his own relay in the podcast’s first episode.

His grandmother, he recalled, arrived in the United States in the 1920s, separated from her mother without being able to say goodbye. This, Castro said, traumatized her for the rest of her life.

For listeners, his grandmother’s story is reminiscent of what is happening even today, as families undergo forced separation and trauma for the sake of a chance at a better future. 

His grandmother’s life crossed between two worlds — that of Mexican tradition and U.S. pop culture. Her stories of struggle, passed down to her daughter Rosie, were fundamental to the Castro brothers’ success. 

They saw what it was like to depend on Social Security and Medicare, they witnessed how their single mother battle to raise her children, living in affordable housing, while also taking care of her mother. They were also inspired by her activism.

Rosie Castro lived through the heightened institutionalized discrimination of the 1950s and 60s. It led her to co-found La Raza Unida in San Antonio, Texas, to become a fighter in her children’s eyes. 

She then passed the baton to her sons.

The Castro brothers grew up on the West Side of San Antonio in the 1970s and ‘80s. A “marginalized part of town,” Joaquin remarked, and “deeply Mexican-American” representing 95% or so of the population.

The two describe how, in some ways, they felt like it was a forgotten part of town where especially the people were overlooked. They, in turn, got a close look at the humanity the infrastructure around them was hiding. 

The brothers even faced their own internalized oppression and feeling different.

“There was sometimes a shame that people had toward their own culture,” Julián said.

Still, they carried the baton through it all, because to Julián, it’s not about being born with the privilege to delve headfirst into the dream, and it definitely is not one of a clear-cut path through adversity.

This is the United States Castro is presenting with his podcast. 

It’s about following one generation to the next, and digging into humanity that is overshadowed by global pandemics, racism, inequity and generational trauma.

Next week, Castro will revisit the ongoing struggle of Flint, Michigan, where he will continue the conversation. 

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