The American dream is a well-known concept throughout the world, and people from different countries want to achieve it. Today, many individuals align that dream with economic wealth, but this approach significantly limits the idea. Adams (1931) explains that the American dream is associated with a better and civil society, in which everyone has equal rights to achieve their goals. Simultaneously, Wolfe (1940) supports this thought and adds that the concept under analysis denotes that all people have adequate opportunities to reach their potential irrespective of their origin or other characteristic features.
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This information demonstrates that numerous Americans can have similar dreams, but specific attention should be drawn to immigrants and black Americans because these individuals have had different opportunities throughout US history. In 1865, immigrants and African Americans did not have any possibilities to reach their dreams of an equal society, but that state of affairs was improving as the United States was becoming more democratic.
In the beginning, one should admit that the minority groups’ dreams and ability to achieve them depended on what role these people occupied in society. In 1865, American society was far from equality and justice, meaning that immigrants and black individuals witnessed many problems. For example, Adams (1931) stipulates that African Americans were not allowed to vote under the Constitution.
Even worse, the end of the Civil War did not lead to immediate improvement because some people opposed the changes. This statement refers to the Ku Klux Klan and other terrorist organizations that tried to provide white people with absolute power in society (Corbett et al., 2014). Immigrants were not in a better state because they were strange to Americans. As a result, foreigners dealt with low-paid manual jobs, and Americans developed an opinion that immigrants were in an inferior state (Adams, 1931). This information demonstrates that the minority groups faced much discrimination in America in 1865.
The data above allows for stipulating that immigrants and black Americans dreamed of fundamental human rights in 1865. They wanted to be free, have equal rights with white individuals, and live in safe conditions. However, the spread of racist and discriminatory beliefs was intense in the country, and the minority groups did not have many opportunities to make their desires real. Injustice and discrimination were some characteristic features of that time.
The state of affairs did not improve over a few decades. Even though Corbett et al. (2014) explain that the 1920s were a period of prosperity for the US, not all citizens saw better life. The problem was that the development processes led to a more significant impact on the Ku Klux Klan which actively protested against African Americans, immigrants, Catholic Americans, and others (Corbett et al., 2014). That is why it is impossible to mention that the American dream of the minority groups experienced any changes because those people wanted to become fully-fledged members of society.
Some positive movements happened in the period of prosperity following World War II. At that time, many community activists tried to cancel racial segregation and aim at white people who supported those discriminatory practices. Thus, Corbett et al. (2014) demonstrate that some public schools abolished racial segregation. Simultaneously, the period under consideration saw the rise of the American dream. Citizens actively participated in urbanization and promoting national prosperity, and African Americans played some role in the process. The official data reveal that many black families did not represent the middle class since their income was significantly lower than that of white citizens.
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However, the revenue of black families rose by more than $4,000 between 1950 and 1960 (Corbett et al., 2014). Even though their economic condition was worse compared to that of white individuals, the increase was a positive sign.
The information above reveals that the mid-20th century provided minorities with improvements. On the one hand, the period promoted African Americans with better opportunities to attain fundamental human rights, and the abolishment of segregated education in some public schools is a suitable example. On the other hand, the data on income levels of white and African Americans demonstrate that these groups had shared dreams of improving their economic conditions. Even though black citizens had lower opportunities, positive changes were present.
Some of the most dramatic changes to the American dream of African Americans and immigrants occurred in the 1960s. That decade witnessed black citizens being given the right to vote and receiving better education and employment opportunities (Corbett et al., 2014). Simultaneously, Corbett et al. (2014) explain that Mexican Americans took some efforts to achieve their citizenship rights in society. These findings demonstrate that the American dream for these minority groups was associated with becoming fully-fledged citizens and influencing society, and the 1960s provided these people with such an opportunity.
One should explain that the present time provides African Americans and immigrants with excellent opportunities to achieve their American dreams. The rationale behind this statement is that the American society of the late 20th-early 21st century could be described as the most democratic and tolerant in the world. The United States is a home for many immigrants, meaning that thousands of people of different origins consider the US their own home. Adams (1931) uses the case of Mary Antin as a suitable example of an individual who came to the United States from Russia, while Corbett et al. (2014) focus on Caucasian Americans.
This information demonstrates that American society welcomes diversity, and this fact provides minority groups with adequate opportunities to achieve their dreams. Since many African Americans and other immigrants actively participate in political affairs, it is possible to stipulate that their American dream is to make the country a better place to live for others. This suggestion denotes that the present time provides black Americans and immigrants with robust abilities to achieve their dreams.
In conclusion, the position of African Americans and other immigrants was not the same throughout US history, denoting that they have different dreams during various periods. Thus, 1865 and a few following decades saw those minority groups dream of having fundamental human rights. That state of affairs was present because racial segregation and discrimination affected society. The first attempts to improve the situation occurred following World War II when some segregation principles were abolished. That period also marked a change in the American dream because African Americans saw an increase in earnings, which denoted that an economic aspect was added. The 1960s provided minority groups with a few fundamental rights, while the present time demonstrates that the United States welcomes diversity.
As a result, African Americans and immigrants have overcome a long path to dream about improving the lives of the whole country through politics rather than about having fundamental human rights.
Adams, J. T. (1931). The epic of America. Little, Brown, and Company.
Corbett, P. S., Janssen, V., Lund, J. M., Pfannestiel, T., Waskiewicz, S., & Vickery, P. (2014). US history. OpenStax.
Wolfe, T. (1940). You can’t go home again. Harper and Brothers.