American Dream U48094673 1
Could The American Dream Support Social Inequalities?
Clay W. Haynes
University of South Florida
In his book The Epic of America James Truslow Adams first defined the American dream as "The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement." (Adams,1931) When our country was founded the Declaration of Independence laid out the basis of the American Dream in this statement “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The American Dream ideology is, simply put, the idea that a person can live in freedom in America, work hard and achieve their dreams, regardless of their ethnicity, gender, religion etc.… Unfortunately, when the American Dream began the wording in the constitution precluded everyone except white property owners. The Dream, however, was a powerful ideology and helped shape the laws of the land to include those that had been denied the rights of the original constitution and include others that had not even been considered in the beginning. I believe the American Dream could be termed a living ideology. It evolves as society in America changes. It can be different for every social group and perhaps even each individual. As the Dream has evolved it has become more and more about the climbing of the economic and social ladder. In doing so the Dream has created an increasing gap between the upper levels wealth and power and the lower levels of poverty and subornation. This inequality exists in many forms.
In Inside Social Life (ISL) inequalities are defined as unearned advantages enjoyed by certain groups of people at the expense of others. The section goes on to say they we, the people, create them and they cannot exist without us continuing to do so. Some of the basic motifs of social inequality are: Inequalities depend on our enforcing symbolic boundaries that position some people as more valuable than others, we need not intend for our thought and actions to result in inequalities for them to do so, people who are unfairly disadvantaged challenge their own oppression, oppressed individuals can contribute to their own and others’ marginalization. (ISL, p.360) The US census bureau says that fifteen percent of the American population are considered to be poor or living below the poverty line. Among that fifteen percent the majority are black and Hispanic. (Bureau, 2011) A report from The Economic Policy Institute indicates that wage inequality in the last thirty years has risen to near the levels it was during the Great Depression. (Economic Policy Institute, 2011) This group of Americans considered poor being largely made up of black and Hispanic people as well as the ever-growing disparity in income could be attributed...