The American Dream Today Essay

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Opportunity and the American Dream

In spite of what Adams said, the American Dream still depends a great deal on birth or position. As Reifenberg and LeBlanc note, it all depends on one’s opportunity: a “general lack of opportunity affects the ability of the less welloff to live up to their full potential. Often disadvantaged for reasons beyond their control, they are forced to live life dreaming of what might have been had the circumstance of their birth been different” (445). In other words, unless one is born into the right circumstances, the right family, or the right environment, the so-called American Dream is unlikely to become a reality. Someone born in the urban part of America, in a poor family or in a poor community, is not going to have the same opportunity to achieve the American Dream as someone who is born the son of a wealthy businessman or a senator or a well-connected individual: that person will have many more opportunities. This paper will show why the American Dream is just that a dream and not really a reality for many.

The American Dream was more possible 200 years ago because there was more possibility for work but not so today. Ben Franklin wrote his Autobiography and helped to lay the foundation for the American Dream by describing how he made the most of every opportunity given him. But he was also someone who was able to use his talents and skill and training and education to use those opportunities. A slave in America would not have had such opportunity and would not have had the training or skill to make anything of those opportunities were they given. The American Dream depends upon an individual having some education and some ability. As Atwan notes, the American Dream was promoted by Franklin, “who believed that anyone from any background who worked hard and lived responsibly could succeed” (436). Yet it was a different time in the Revolutionary days when Franklin arrived in colonial America. Things were still in flux. The nation’s future had not yet been determined. The structure of the government had not even been put in place. Today, America is more than 200 years old. The ways things are are now set almost in stone.
Few people are able to arrive today from other countries and achieve the kind of status that is equated with the American Dream. At every turn there are obstacles, due to race or gender or class or wealth.

Today, the American Dream is blocked by many obstacles. Barack Obama hinted at these obstacles as being political when he stated that “it’s not surprising that the American people’s frustrations with Washington are at an all-time high” (Obama 436). People are frustrated with the government because…

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…the Puritan America that was made the foundation of the country. Stascavage points out that the current social and political unrest in America is evidence of this lack of opportunity for equality and for the American Dream among people, especially those of color, noting that “there is clearly something wrong” (271). The fact is that minorities have always had in hard in America, and achieving the American Dream has always been more of a miracle if it happens for them than it has been an actual reality. Minorities have it so hard that it is more likely for them to end up in jail than it is for them to end up achieving the American Dream.

In conclusion, opportunity plays a big role in whether or not one can achieve the American Dream. People think that just because they are in America, everything will be handed to them, but this is not the case. The American Dream is only possible if one has access to certain ways that permit one to climb up. But if one is born into a poor family or comes from a poor neighborhood, that person is likely to attend a poor school and not gain the skills and training needed to succeed. That person is unlikely to have the opportunity to even chase the American Dream. The person is more likely to end up in jail especially if that….....

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Works Cited

Atwan, Robert. American Now, 12th Ed. Edited by Robert Atwan. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2017.

DiAngelo, Robin. “White America’s Racial Illiteracy: Why Our National Conversation Is Poisoned from the Start.” American Now, 12th Ed. Edited by Robert Atwan. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2017.

The Economist. “Young, Gifted, and Held Back.” American Now, 12th Ed. Edited by Robert Atwan. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2017.

Estrich, Susan. “Modern Family.” American Now, 12th Ed. Edited by Robert Atwan. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2017.

Obama, Barack. “The Defining Challenge of Our Time.” American Now, 12th Ed. Edited by Robert Atwan. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2017.

Reifenberg, Natasha and Patrick LeBlanc. “Yes, Income Inequality Really is That Bad.” American Now, 12th Ed. Edited by Robert Atwan. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2017.

Stascavage, Brian. “Why Black Lives Matter Isn’t What You Think.” American Now, 12th Ed. Edited by Robert Atwan. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2017.

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