I recently read the article Teenagers are losing confidence in the American dream – Yahoo Finance and it got me thinking about what the American Dream really meant.
The phrase the American Dream was popularized by the historian James Truslow Adams in his book Epic of American. In his book, Truslow wrote
…that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement…
It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream…in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.
It has been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in the older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class.
In 1931 the year Turslow’s book was published the Scottsboro Boys, 9 young black boys in Alabama were being persecuted and wrongfully convicted for raping white women. So it begs the question, who was the American Dream written for, history indicates that the American Dream wasn’t written for African Americans or other people of color subject to discrimination with people of color in mind, even if the Declaration of Independence says that all men are created equal.
Even if the concept of the American Dream was not created for people of color we’ve somehow managed to get a slice of it here and there. Unfortunately, not everyone gets access to the same resources or opportunities as others do, and the truth is that people help their own and when people of color are rarely in position of power its hard for those of color to rise in the trenches.
One of the issues I also see with our new concept of the American Dream is that we watch people, like the Kardashians, their ridiculous lifestyle and believe that these people best define the American Dream. Materialism and superficiality should not be your American Dream, for none of that will make you a better or happier person. We as American’s are consumed with the idea that “more stuff” will make you happier when in reality it doesn’t.
My American Dream is to live a simple life, be in shape, travel and eat good food.
What is your American Dream?