The American Dream And African Americans Essay
, Research Paper
What is the American Dream?
To many people across the globe, the United States of America appears to be a place where one can be proud of. America the land where dreams come true and there is always a chance for any person to succeed. People who are not from the United States have been painted a beautiful picture of what life in our country is like. Not only do they think that there is a special place in America for them and the perfect career for each individual, but unfortunately this is not always true. The American dream is not necessarily to get rich quick, it is more along the lines of a hard worker having an opportunity to be financially stable and to live a pleasant life. The dream is that their sons and daughters will not have to suffer the same things that they did. Their children will be better off in the long run because of their hard work.
Why hasn’t the African American community been able to reach the American dream
In America everyone is guaranteed the opportunity to succeed and reach the American dream. In many instances, American citizens have been deprived of such a dream because other fellow citizens are prejudice. This bigotry suppresses the African-American people in the crime filled ghetto in which few blacks make it to old age much less with a decent home and a retirement fund.
Many things impede the African Americans’ quest for their dream, such as the media and music. “The history of the Black American is largely the story of their struggle for freedom and equality” . Since the dawn of time the color black has always signified something Dirty, soiled, evil, wicked, disgraceful and without hope. Unfortunately for the African American community this definition does not work for their advantage. The black man has long been associated with ignorance and crime, and the lethargic attitude of many African Americans does not help . Many people have been taught to be careful around a black man because of many reasons: Millions have been taught that a black man is liable to steal, attack, or murder a person based on their skin color. Of course this is not stated as directly as it once was, but nevertheless parents are still subconsciously preaching this to their children. These myths have been passed from one generation to the next and is negatively affecting blacks. As a consequence, millions accept and act out stereotypical images .
There are three stereotypes offered today and taught to many: the angry black stereotype: Always pointing his finger at the rest of the world and had appeared so often that it was all that people knew. The noble Negro, who was always victimized by whites and could only be saved by the good will of other whites. And the urban outlaw stereotype, which is the violent or criminal outlaw that is most popular today. What is left out is the middle class, the people supporting a family, volunteering at school, attending church, and seeking the American dream .
The black male has often been depicted as a thug, hoodlum, a gangster, and as a man with an itchy trigger finger. This is obviously why many young people have grown to be subtly racist their toward fellow Americans, while others have grown such hatred that they form radical organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, Neo Nazis, and skinheads. Hate crimes are still evident and not as uncommon as many people believe. Great masses of African Americans are victims of a brutal and inhumane system of enslavement . Although these are stereotypical, and often false, representations of African Americans many people believe them because of what they are fed through what is a very important weapon against blacks: the mass media. “For blacks in America, the weight of media stereotypes is an enormous burden to carry every day” . At many times when a black man is portrayed on the television he is usually wearing baggy pants, waving his hands in the air making gang signs, talking about the ghetto lifestyle, and making anti-police remarks. What they do not realize is that the only thing they are doing is making life harder for other blacks, the middle class seeking the American dream. This happens because other people see this and will make a judgement on black people only by what they have seen, not what they have experienced. The media will always be a problem for African Americans. It is not until the whole world changes that blacks can finally have a piece of the American dream. It would be much easier if the black man would change, but the media also gives the message that nobody likes change. People want to live their lives believing that all black people are evil, and that they are dangerous. People need a scapegoat, someone to point their finger at so they can say to themselves “look how good I am, and look how bad they are.” Some people have never even experienced the company of a black man, some people only know about African Americans what they have seen on the television and heard on the radio, which is usually not positive. “The historical and cultural legacies of Africans and Americans of African descent have been distorted by massive propaganda campaigns based on mythical stories and notions, commonly held to be true but without factual basis” . A good example of this is rap music. Rap music will forever be connected to the streets, drugs, and the ghetto. In the late eighties the popularity of rap began rise to the top of the music charts. Rap began to reach its true form with the “gangster rap”. This type of rap speaks mainly about the ghetto situation- “Compton is the city I’m from, can’t never leave the crib without a murder weapon ” The pioneers of rap include Dr. Dre, whose group N.W.A. (Niggaz With Attitude) was the first rap group to bring the sound of the street to the american mainstream with songs whose lyrics include. Their music videos premiered on MTV and were soon banned due to the violence and gang situations in which these black men were associated with. With popular songs such as “f*ck the police” it is not surprising that many white americans thought that this would be a very bad influence on their children. When people listen to this kind of music they do not receive the same message that blacks get when they listen to it and these people are quick to judge on what they have heard from a commercialized song.
As long as people keep looking down on blacks as dangerous, poor, worthless, dirty, useless, shameful, socially irresponsible, and acknowledging their skin color a different tone and regarding its difference as something of importance the black community will never be able to prosper nor reach the American dream. Many will never be able to get the nice little house with the white picket fence, a good job, or an honest living. Much of this is caused and even encouraged by the pop-culture of this era. On the one side there is the negrophobia motivated by the white culture and encouraged by many people in schools, at home, and on the streets. This is very detrimental for the African Americans’ chance at the American dream because of the racial hatred that is built up by this negrophobia. On the other side there is the negrophiliac MTV culture that promotes the stereotypical urban criminal nigger attitude instead of the middle class black American. This is the class that is often deprived of they deserve, what all Americans are entitled to, and is even guaranteed to the people, the pursuit of happiness.
Even though there have been many stumbling stones in the path of the African Americans’ quest for the American dream, there is no one to blame but the blacks themselves. There is no surprise that it can only be blamed, not on the supremacist white man that holds the African Americans down in the ghettos, but on the so called “niggers”, the stereotypical urban gangster, ignorant, and the one many blacks try to follow or imitate. It cannot come as a shock to anyone that there is everlasting black-on-black crime since Africans had been trading their own people since the 1600s with the Europeans for things such as rum, cloth, and guns .
Since the beginning of time, humans have been playing the blame-game with each other. Many African Americans blame their economical, social, and racial problems and the white Americans. Who is really to blame? The majority of the population of prisons is African Americans . Blacks are the largest minority nevertheless many live in poverty and despair .
A crucial element for the achievement of African Americans is education. Well-educated African Americans had a much better number of economic options . By 1984 only a little over half of the African Americans 25 years of age or older had graduated from high school and only around eight percent had finished college. In the University of Arizona the total percent of African American enrolling is 2.51 percent. The total minority percentage is 22.62. After seven years only 37 percent of African Americans had graduated. In UC Berkeley the percent of freshmen of African descent graduating within six years of entry in 1980 was 37.7. To get out of a predicament as one of the size that the African Americans have to deal with, education could be a very helpful and a critical element to accomplish what they want and need. Blacks are the largest minority, but they have the least percentages in universities. With role models like the rappers, young black Americans see on television one could never expect to see a black person get out of the ghetto. Not only is the richest one fifth of blacks earn 50 percent of the total income of the black community, but one third of African Americans are worse off economically today than since Martin Luther King died in 1968 . There is still a very large inequality among blacks. With an education, discipline, and motivation, blacks could overcome anything: prejudice, segregation, poverty, and racial inequality. To succeed, they must give up their attitude of “this can only be solved with violence” stereotype and the typical “I don’t care.” Barbara Ransby of the University of Illinois at Chicago states that “the connection between racism and class discrimination in this country has always been deep and intricate, after all, slavery is where it all began.” As long as this keeps happening, America will continue to treat
blacks by their color, not character .
What the Black Americans can do to make their situation for the better
It is appaling to realize the number of pathetic people who are hampered and made miserable by the malady popularly called the inferior complex . This is what the African american community is suffering from, so it may seem like the best thing for them to do is go to a phycologist. Unfortunately it seems a lot easier than truly is, and the pride of the community will prevent it from happening. And we all know that the economic status of many black americans will keep this from happening. So what can the African Americans do to change their social status? Work. This is the only thing that anyone can do, but this is exceptionally difficult because there is an entire group of millions of people that must work. This work is not the typical kind of work, it is a struggle for social equality. The situation isn’t the same as it had at one time been and people are not as prejudice as the had once been.