Racism and Poverty: Barriers to Achieving the American Dream

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The phrase “The American Dream” is an incredible thing. The promise of that dream has convinced hundreds of millions of people that, as a citizen of this country, you can accomplish anything if you work hard enough. Whether you want to be a doctor, athlete, or even a president, those things should all be within your reach, regardless of your class or race! America is the nation where dreams can come true. Unfortunately, for a large number of people that believe this, this is a concept that does not apply to them. Many Americans find opportunities are denied to them because of their race. Others can be found living in poverty and far from anything that would be considered desirable. Statistics show that the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans earned 9 percent of all U.S. income in 1979. Did you know that the same 1 percent earns 24 percent of all U.S. income today? That is a staggering example of the income inequality in America. The American Dream is that if you work hard and have the ability you will succeed, but that has become an impossibility for millions of disadvantaged Americans because the income inequality has been steadily increasing since the 1970s and racism and poverty are constant barriers to their success and financial security.

Bell hooks knows about the challenges of race and class, and why some people have a harder time than others in achieving the American Dream. It is normal to feel uncomfortable and awkward arriving at a new school for the first time, but this was something completely different. For bell hooks, walking through the halls with eyes staring at her as if she was an alien, she realized that schooling for her would never be the same. She describes her feelings of inequality a...

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...nities’”. After reading and analyzing what hooks and Ehrenreich had to say, I don’t know that I believe that anymore. As individuals and as a country, we have much work to do to provide equal opportunities here and end racism once and for all. The question is, can we do it? I believe we can. Slavery was abolished. Women fought for and received the right to vote. The Civil Rights movement brought about great change in this country and went a long way towards the goal of ending racial discrimination. The idea of the American Dream has been around for over a long time, but it is still, in my opinion, far from reality. People should not be discriminated against because of their race, or forced to live in poverty. I hope to see changes for the better in America, changes which I believe are long overdue. Perhaps then the American Dream will become a reality.

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