The New York Times asked people: How Did the American Dream Die For You? (A leading question if there ever was one)
Below are sample responses.
You know what I see in these comments? I see people who don’t understand the American dream and whose expectations are unrealistic and perhaps assume an easier path than ever existed. I also see people who are prone to looking for others and circumstances to blame. I have highlighted some of the statements I see indicative of my perception.
LIANNA EVANS CLOVIS, CALIF. Born in 1978 I grew up in poverty. I graduated high school at 15, had a child at 16 and went to college when I was 21. I’ve worked for state and federal government for almost 20 years and have too little to show for it. Without family support I took out student loans that have crippled me ever since. No assets, less than $60k in retirement, five kids, and a doctoral degree that pays less than an RN. How is my dream even a dream at this point? It’s only a wish. …
KAREN KIMMERLY WILLIAMSBURG, OHIO When the auto plant where both I and my husband worked closed in 2008. He was able to move to another plant; I regret to say that I took a buyout to go back to school. Now, multiple degrees later, I earn less than half of what I did as a skilled trades person with a good union job. I have a master’s degree and I love my job as a public librarian, but if anything happened to my husband I would be unable to support myself.
FRANKLIN PEÑA BRONX, N.Y. The first day I landed in Los Angeles. I realized the concepts of inclusion and progression didn’t have me or my people in mind. I realized my community is expected to work for others but never develop sustainability outside the realm of manual labor. It was the day my soul split in two. My disappointment and ambitions exist within my pursuit of happiness. My American dream died, but not my desire to be great.
JUSTIN IOWA When I saw the wage breakout for my company.My boss made $400k while the average worker made $35k. The death, though, was the year he decided not to award raises or bonuses to anyone but himself. He took the entire $300k pool of money that should have been divided between the employees, and then told everyone the company was struggling.
KIMBERLEY BERRY DENVER The day I realized that no matter how hard I work, or how smart and educated I am, as a Black woman in America I will always be perceived as invisible.
Obituaries for the American Dream
A few things about the American dream:
- Our streets were never paved with gold or an easy route to success
- Never in the history of our nation have people not struggled, and especially minorities and immigrants who were different.
- Untold millions have overcome those obstacles
- A college degree, multiple college degrees, guarantee nothing. Conversely, not having a degree does not prevent success.
- In 2020 there are more safety nets, more tax advantages for average Americans and more laws protecting minorities and the disadvantaged than anytime in the Country’s history
- Americans have survived a revolution, civil war, world wars, multiple economic crisis, depression, political turmoil and more and the Dream has endured … if you understand what it is.
- The choices one makes, attitude, grit and motivation have more to do with reaching the American or any other dream than any external factors.
- No goal worth achieving is easy to achieve.