A Reassessment of the Dream
You have had such a wonderful life. Your father’s success and prosperity in the high-end real estate market left you, as a young adult, with a bright future, filled with endless opportunities. You did not dissapoint the Rooney family’s honor nor stature as you continued to dominate this market while providing for not only your kids but your grandkids as well. You saw yourself as an embodiement of the American dream, a true titan of the capitalist system. But when you picture this idea of “the dream” what comes to mind? You may think of your father first estabishing a skyscrapper under the family name or when you watched your kids be accepted into the most prestigious elementary schools, then high schools, and finally Universities. But take a step back from your own intimate reality, and what may you see? Perhaps the African American servers at the Country Club you would attend for relaxation on the weekends, or maybe you would see the Latino immigrants that would mend your Ranch in Arizona. But of all things you would probably see Irene.
Although her skin was as dark as chocolate, and yours as pale as snow, she was an undeniable link in the family chain that could not be broken. She was not simply as housekeeper and a cook, she was a strong maternal figure for your children and one of your most trusted companions. But Irene, as similar as she was in personality and love, does not see America and “the dream” in the same properous light that you do. Instead she sees a country that under appreciates, undervalues, and morally discriminates her based solely on the color of her skin. Ta-Nahisi Coates in his book, Between the World and Me, which is an expository letter to his son, warning of the systematic racism that engulfs the United States, states that “America’s problem is not its betrayal of ‘government of the people, but the means by which ‘the people’ acquired their names… race is the child of racism, not the father” (6–7). Coates implies that the embedded social hierarchy of this nation repudiates its slogan as the the land of opportunities. In fact, this nationally embraced saying can only be considered accurate if each child, no matter of ethnic or religious background, was given the equal opportunites and privileges to succeed in this nation driven by capitalistic success. However, countless fundamental components of the United States, such as the judicial and educational system, create a vicious cycle of poverty and discrimination that makes success incredibly challenging to obtain.
The legal and schooling systems are by far the most influential structures of this country, yet they can also be seen as most neglectful and discriminatory. Specifically, in the educational system, troublesome youths from either Black or Latino familes are seen as a burden on the teachers and other students, without consideration of the background and cultural surroundings that caused their lowered desire to achieve. When the expectations of these students does not exceed their cultural tendency for violence and lower income work, why whould they feel the natural desire to challenge their “fate”? School systems add to this path of hardship and poverty by simply pushing students from class to class and from school to school. Instead American schools should be holding onto these students, and insuring them that their skin color does not define them and they can achieve anything. Coates explaines this cultural difference in upbringing as “Their ‘safety’ was in schools, portfolios, and skyscrapers. Ours was in men with guns who could only view us with the same contempt as the society that sent them” (85). In this quote Coates explains how this neglectful and inequitable treatment in the educational systems leads children of ethnic minorities only finding comfort through socially constructed violence. Playing a role in organized crime often leads to racially diverse youths being confronted by the harsh reality of America’s legal system. African Americans, according to the NAACP, are incarcerated six times more often than white people. Although this crime is surely due to social and economic isolation as well as discrimination, the United States refuses to accept the fundamental problems of our society that are undoubtedly the cause of this inequality. In the United States it as if those that are a part of an ethnic minority are fighting an uphill battle, while the white children are given a easy rode to success. Quite simply this country is not giving children of ethnic minorities the chance achieve their true potential and bridge the gap between races.
So as you can see, grandpa, your success is not a product of the American Dream. It is a product of the privilege and hard work under a nation supporting and aiding your success. I am not saying that your prosperous life is not justified, simply that it should be recognized as a unique achievement that many citizens of this country could not acquire so easily.