American Identity

Is America living up to People’s Dreams?

American Pipe Dream
A cartoon satirizing the American Dream. (Intoon)

Being a first generation American born citizen, I strongly identify with the place I grew up in and with my parents’ cultural background. Being American is not as simple as being born in the soil, but accepting or assimilating to its customs and beliefs.  I believe that respecting the diversity in other cultures and practices is important to identify as being an American. America was founded to be a country that represents freedom, independence and justice for all. Unfortunately, this may not be the case.

Despite our different backgrounds, we manage to live harmoniously in the same place, speaking a common language and working towards a similar goal. Many immigrants come to America to improve their financial situation and give their children a better life than they had. Even though America was brought up to be a “free country,” there are many problems of discrimination based on race, class, gender, or background. These conflicts disrupt the productivity and happiness of Americans from achieving their “American Dream.”

In Benjamin Franklin’s “Information to Those Who Would Remove to America,” he quotes, “Persons of moderate Fortunes and Capitals, who, having a Number of Children to provide for, are desirous of bringing them up to Industry, and to secure Estates for their Posterity…” in which he explains how people come to America for better opportunities. This is a very essential part of the American identity as many believe and dream of being successful and improving their lives in this country. Franklin explains that people settle down in America for their children to lead a prosperous life by working hard. This eludes to the American Dream where anyone can be wealthy and successful as long as they put effort in their work towards their goal. Unfortunately, there are many of factors that deny this, up to the point that people believe that the American Dream died or never existed in the first place.

In Dan Primack’s article, “Why I Believe the American Dream Just Died,” he lists multiple reasons in why he thinks the American Dream is unachievable in modern day standards.  Based on the statistics from the Legg Mason survey, “64% of those with annual incomes of at least $250,000 believe that the American Dream is out of reach.” Primack concludes that even the upper- middle class to rich considers the Dream impossible, despite their decent income. One of the characteristics of their American Dream did include “knowing that working hard pays off.” Most of these households contains affluent and well educated people, so how would the rest of the population feel about their chances of achieving the American Dream? With wage gaps, student loans, debt, and the vast majority of people of color living under the poverty line, the Dream seems to slip further away. Is it possible to be successful in America as long as you work hard?

Links for More Reading:

Fortune: Why I Believe That The American Dream Has Died

New York Times: What Does It Mean To Be An American

Source of Text

Franklin, Benjamin. “Information To Those Who Would Remove To America.” The Norton Analogy of American Literature (Vol. A, 8th ed.), edited by Nina Baym, Norton, 2012, p.477.




2 thoughts on “Is America living up to People’s Dreams?

  1. I love how you included information about how 64% of families with an income of at least $250,000 a year didn’t thing the American Dream was easily attainable. That really speaks volumes, especially because that income put’s those families in the middle and high class of earnings. There are people in American struggling to make $9 an hour and provide food an shelter for their families. I believe that the American Dream should be more accessible, especially with all of the blood sweat and tears the tax payers shed to put money back into America’s economy. That leaves the question, does hard work really pay off? Or do you already have to have to be a hardworking wealthy person to receive that acknowledgment?


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