I am white, with a technical college degree, age 66. The American dream worked for me, but not for others born in the United States when I was.
This quote from a speech by Malcolm X comes to mind.
“Brothers and sisters, I’m here to tell you that I charge the White man. I charge the White man with being the greatest murderer on earth. I charge the White man with being the greatest kidnapper on earth. There is no place in this world that that man can go and say he created peace and harmony. Everywhere he’s gone he’s created havoc. Everywhere he’s gone he’s created destruction. So I charge him. I charge him with being the greatest kidnapper on this earth. I charge him with being the greatest murderer on this earth. I charge him with being the greatest robber and enslaver on this earth. I charge the White man with being the greatest swine-eater on this earth, the greatest drunkard on this earth.
He can’t deny the charges. You can’t deny the charges. We’re the living proof of those charges. You and I are the proof. You’re not an American, you are the victim of America. You didn’t have a choice coming over here. He didn’t say, “Black man, Black woman, come on over and help me build America.” He said, “Nigger, get down in the bottom of that boat and I’m taking you over there to help me build America.” Being born here does not make you an American. I’m not an American. You’re not an American. You are one of twenty-two million Black people who are the victims of America.
You and I, we’ve never seen any democracy. We ain’t seen no democracy in the cotton fields of Georgia. That wasn’t no democracy down there. We didn’t see any democracy on the streets of Harlem and the streets of Brooklyn and the streets of Detroit and Chicago. That wasn’t democracy down there. No, we’ve never seen democracy; all we’ve seen is hypocrisy. We don’t see any American dream. We’ve experienced only the American nightmare.”
So the American Dream was not shared equally. I had job and education opportunities in part because those opportunities were closed to others.