“Generations of Americans considered the United States to be a land of opportunity,” says New York University sociology professor Michael Hout. If this is so, then why are Black and Latino people in the US still less likely to feel represented in politics and pop culture? Your circumstances at birth are the biggest factors in how far you get in life. With this in mind, many Americans are shifting how they view the American dream. Racial tensions, income inequality, and other issues have created roadblocks that make achieving the American Dream more difficult for some than for others.
Those who live in areas with higher economic growth and better schools have a greater chance to climb the economic ladder. Many studies have found that areas with large African-American populations, such as the South, have lower rates of mobility for all residents. Counties with disproportionately high shares of black Americans today are the same counties that had large black populations before the Civil War, suggesting that historical conditions have had extremely persistent impacts on the outcomes of African-Americans. Public schools in these areas often are underfunded, limiting skill and upward mobility for black Americans.
Despite the current prohibition of policies that outright discriminate by race, racial economic inequality continues to have a significant impact on Latinos as well. There is an ingrained perception among many white people that all Latinos are foreign no matter how long they’ve been in the United States. “Regarding wealth, the disparity is much worse. In 2016, Latinos had a median wealth of $6,400 compared to White median wealth of $140,500” (Prosperity now). The narrative that Latinos are choosing not to take their place in American society does not take into account the pushback they face when they try to do so. Gerrymandering, the drawing of electoral district lines to keep particular groups together, has packed growing Hispanic populations into fewer districts, diluting their voting strength. Latinos are still not fully integrated into American society.
The Declaration of Independence declares “All men are created equal.” Our nation has come a long way and has made tremendous progress as envisioned by our forefathers. Some believe, overall, the American Dream is available to everyone and anyone regardless of race or background. If this were true, we would no longer see gerrymandering or underfunded schools. We would see a higher percentage of college diplomas, wealth, and pop culture in all racial groups.
In conclusion, although the nation has advanced greatly, due to historical oppression of several races and groups, there are still those who feel that the American Dream is unattainable. Race has always been the most visible source of division in the United States and still is. Hopefully, in the near future, the American Dream will truly become achievable by all.