The American Dream
The American dream refers to a fundamental culture in the United States. It encompasses equity, opportunities, freedom, bureaucracy and civil rights. The American dream gives the American people a chance to progress, prosper and succeed guaranteed by hard work. The Declaration of Independence paved the way for the American Dream through its stipulation that all individuals are equal. All people have an equal right to life, freedom and search for joy. Over time, the American dream has gone through dynamism. Different scholars have generated different definitions of the American dream. For instance, the Centre for a New American visualizes it as the prioritization of creation of a stable life, adding value to the society and allocating time to relatives and acquaintances. Today, the American dream has evolved to encompass the notion of a better high-class life characterized by fame, fortune, money, and power. The American dream, however, varies by race, class, and gender.
Acquisition of material luxuries is only availed to creditworthy individuals. Creditworthiness is based on the type of employment and status. The society is usually grouped into different strata (Foster & Wolfson, 2010). The unequal distribution of wealth has denied the majority of the American people the luxury of enjoying material purchases. The social disparity in America has been initiated by the differences in income, wealth and employment. According to Elias (2016), pursuing finances, material luxuries and fame have long been perceived the American dream. The notion is however insignificant as it creates a level that is beyond the ability of majority, for instance purchasing expensive cars, living in expensive apartments and the latest media system which cannot be afforded (Elias, 2016).
Members of the African American community have long perceived the middle-class status as the American dream. According to Johnson (2014), the blacks believed in the American dream with vigor and worked hard to realize it. Social stratification exists in the society and is based on employment, marriage, and education. The whites have always gained more preference regarding employment opportunities. In accordance to Rossi&Curtis (2013), the black unemployment rate has been twice the white’s rate for almost sixty years. The disparity in the rates showed inequality regarding opportunities to the minority. According to Rossi&Curtis (2013), the whites had a much lower level of unemployment compared to their black counterparts. The inequalities in employment opportunities have always raised questions about whether the American dream is attainable or not.
Interaction between Race and Class
The minority in the United States have always been discriminated and neglected in terms of availing opportunities. The African Americans have endured long histories of high rated unemployment which has in turn reduced their disposable income (Rossi & Curtis, 2013). Most of the African Americans are low income earners living in poverty. The reduced income in turn reduces their credit worthiness limiting their material purchases. Their white counterparts on the other hand get good paying jobs which in turn increase their wealth and class. The differences in income thus initiate stratification in the society. The disparities thus conflict with the stipulations of the American dream.
Cherlin, A. J. (2010). Demographic trends in the United States: A review of research in the 2000s. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72(3), 403-419.
Elias, R. (2016). Baseball and the American Dream: Race, Class, Gender, and the National Pastime. Routledge.
Foster, J. E., & Wolfson, M. C. (2010). Polarization and the Decline of the Middle Class: Canada and the US. The Journal of Economic Inequality, 8(2), 247-273.
Johnson, H. B. (2014). The American dream and the power of wealth: Choosing schools and inheriting inequality in the land of opportunity. Routledge.
Marklin, S. D. (2014). Examining the Influence of Race, Class and Gender Inequalities on Perceptions of the American Dream Since the 2008 Economic Recession. B 2011
Rossi, M. M., & Curtis, K. A. (2013). Aiming at half of the target: An argument to replace poverty thresholds with self-sufficiency, or “living wage” standards. Journal of Poverty, 17(1), 110-130.