What do you believe is the American dream? This is what my history teacher asked me last semester as I sat down for my first class of History131: History of the American Dream. Each person had a slightly different version from the next, but all had reoccuring themes. A nice house in the suburbs, a white picket fence, a family, a solid job. But most importantly- money. Wealth is something that is always on our minds- whether we intentionally think of it or not.
So what does the American dream have to do with the racial wealth gap? They have one thing in common: African American and Latino people are at a large disadvantage for no reason other than the color of their skin.
I believe that everyone deserves an equal chance. One opportunity. One shot. Because that one shot they are given can end up changing their life. For example, think about someone who gets one shot at an awesome job. She ends up killing it, and works in that firm for the rest of her life, where she starts a career for herself, makes enough money to be stable enough to buy a house, starts and family, and gets the happiness she has worked for and deserves. But let’s take a step back. Imagine that person was not granted that one opportunity. Imagine that person was shot down her whole life, underestimated, underappreciated, and misunderstood. Then that person could not have created the amazing life for herself that she is capable of creating. This, sadly, is what it is like for some African American and Latina women in the United States. These women are at an immense disadvantage opposed to white women- strictly because of their race. This is one of the driving forces of the horrible racial wealth gap that hovers over our society today.
According to our past readings and as seen in our last class period, there are multiple cases where White people are at a huge advantage opposed to African Americans and Latinos. For instance, we spoke in class about one-parent household incomes among the three races and compared that to the income in two-parent households. The sad fact, as of 2013, was that the two-parent African American households did not even generate nearly as much income as a single parent White household. This made me wonder. I tried making sense of this, and thought to myself that maybe it was possible that the African American parents may not have had higher education which therefore could explain how that statistic made sense. However, after looking at another graph, it showed that regardless of the level of education people had, white people were still generating more income than the other races. I believe that this shows that the horrible prejudice that I believed USED TO exist in this country, as it is now 2018, still sadly exists.
I asked myself, what can we do? When you have such a large-scale issue at hand, how is it possible for one single person to do something about it? I realized that it is not possible. What needs to happen is a movement, which cannot happen until we all wake up. Until we wake up and see that the color of our skin should have absolutely nothing to do with the opportunities we are given. Think back- what if your parent was not given his or her one shot? The shot that started his or her career, allowed the purchasing of your house, and allowed your parent to be stable enough to start a family and bring you into this world? The sad truth is that that happens every day to an African American or Latino person because of the prejudice and segregation that still exists in America today.
So what is there to do about an issue as large as this one? For now, I would say this: spread awareness of the severity of this issue, be grateful for everything you have, and if you have the opportunity to do so, give every person one shot at something that could change his or her life for the better.