Classic American literature and iconic figures, like The Great Gatsby and Abraham Lincoln, seem to embody the epitome of the American spirit and capture the rags to riches story that seems to define the elusive American Dream. But, what is it? Is the American Dream a promise, a hope, a theoretical concept?
The American Dream: an ideal that encompasses all of the romanticized promises of the Declaration of Independence. “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.” Even at the time of when this document became ratified, it had already been narrow in whom its rights were granted to. A more accurate statement would have been, “all white, landowning men are created equal”. This begs the question, if the American Dream is real, is it as equally attainable as it is said to be?
A study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston revealed that the chasm between classes has grown. This inequitable distribution of wealth, and consequently opportunity, has decreased the mobility of the lower class. This ultimately destroys the idea of the American Dream. Though there is much dispute about the true interpretation of this abstract conjecture, it is agreed upon that the American Dream entails the ability to achieve a better life. However, is it simply the opportunity for a better life or the definitive promise of it?
Throughout history, America has gone against the very principles it preaches. This has been demonstrated in such events as slavery, segregation, Japanese internment camps, prejudice against immigrants, the women’s’ suffrage movement, Gamergate, and countless others. Equality, true and invariable equality, is something that has evaded this country time and time again. In my opinion, the American Dream cannot truly exist, until it applies to all people; regardless of their race, gender, age, sexual orientation, financial situation, or any category we typecast others into.