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THE AMERICAN DREAM: WORTH MORE THAN JUST MONEY

Alaysia Spruill

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John Zogby

According to John Zogby during a BBC interview, “John Zogby: The American Dream Redefined,” materialists once defined the American Dream as “some form of financial success.” People buy it, people use it, people recommend it, then people sell it even though it has lost its value—or, they used to. Today, that definition has become more fluid in terms of younger generations’ individual beliefs and values. As of the 21st century, consumers and manufacturers are less confident in advertising products that would normally persuade people to cherish traditional American values, such as the apple pie, white picket fence lifestyle. Nonetheless, materialism has branded the American Dream, pressuring everyone to pursue it, or be left out of the mainstream loop. 

Zogby points out that “Traditional Materialists,” as he calls them, have not only seen little success finding happiness in a monetary lifestyle, but have adapted to the notion that the American Dream could be something other than tangible wealth. Going to college and learning, or even helping someone in need are two of the many ways new age American citizens are shaping the American Dream to fit the lifestyle they want.

Armaan Mumtaz

Zogby isn’t alone in his assessment. Junior visual arts major, Armaan Mumtaz, adds, “I do agree mostly with his statement because I feel like the American Dream, among other prominent concepts in our American society, fluctuate in accordance to the rest of society. Our morals and our goals and our intentions have changed, which has changed our idea of the American Dream, so the American Dream is a product of its people and the people are always changing.”

These changes are causing people to challenge the existence of the American Dream.

Katie McDonough, in her article, “Does the American Dream mean anything anymore? More young people are saying no,” argues that younger generations believe the American Dream is a myth. Few believe that wealth and marriage are two necessary components of the American Dream, insisting it doesn’t apply to their goals in life, and that conforming to traditionalist ideals would only hold them back from fostering personal values and goals, a fear validated by lingering materialists. The American Dream is outdated, the very foundation of our country’s beliefs have always conformed, flexed, and adapted to ever-developing society.

Natalia Guardado

“I do agree that the American Dream doesn’t exist because as a citizen of this ‘beautiful country,’ I don’t see it as a possibility, especially as a minority. It is very difficult statistically to be able to have that ideal of an American Dream. And I just feel—especially with the finance—like the minimum wage that we’re given isn’t even enough to live off [of] alone, especially if you have a family. So, I don’t think it exists,” says junior music major, Natalia Guardado. However, even she cannot deny that the American Dream (or its illusion) has negatively impacted her family, which tends to be true for most Americans. Minorities suffer economic disadvantages that make it difficult for them to pursue the American Dream. Money, education, and homes are hard-earned.

“The fact that so many suburbs are mostly White is no accident,” says Adam Conover in his video, The Disturbing History of the Suburbs, “It’s the result of decades of racist federal policy that affect us to this day.” Franklin D. Roosevelt made a loan system after the Great Depression to help people finance their homes. “To decide who got those loans, the government created color-coded maps, in which green neighborhoods were good and red neighborhoods were bad,” Conover  adds. It is no coincidence that the red neighborhoods where were African. 

Americans and other minorities lived. Politicians purposefully made racist policies so that minorities could not have access to prosperous neighborhoods, which offered safe environments for children to play and grow, as well as allow them feel proud about their ethnic identity. Financial stability was a crucial element of the American Dream, but because these policies had only been enforced, rather than discouraged, many minorities now believe that pursuing it is futile.

After the Mexican-American War in 1848, thousands of Mexicans immigrated to America in search of protection from the terror and poverty behind them, bringing with them their own flavor of life, that millions today embrace and take interest in. Zogby emphasizes how immigrants are first-hand spectators in a country known for its courage, boldness, and adaptive capacity because, “[Immigrants] are the least likely to say that American culture is superior to other cultures of the world.” As a stabilizing economy in the 1950s gave teenagers the chance to enjoy adolescence and learn the importance of doing things for the greater good of the nation, new age dreamers have continued to transcend older generations until subjective ideals ceased to confine them to a particular lifestyle, hence, today young Americans practice different sorts of religions, diets, spending habits, etc.. Zogby explains that the American Dream still exists, however it has grown: “ The American Dream has changed. It has adjusted to the new world in which we live.” Although most are trying hard not to cohere with the mainstream, they should keep in mind that it is perfectly acceptable to have similar dreams as others, whether it be to start a family or start a business.

The people who decided financial success was not the answer to happiness allowed younger generations to explore other options and think for themselves, their personal health and growth; therefore, the abstract concept of the American Dream is still in existence, but it is a reflection of our character, not the money in our bank accounts.

 

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About the Writer
Alaysia Spruill, Student Journalist
Alaysia Spruill: First-class introvert, dancer, creative writer, and musician. She’s not a huge talker, but she has a lot to say, particularly in the form of poetry and debate. SCPA has been her home since the 7th grade and her heart has always belonged to its dance community, but as of 2017, her unknown love...
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THE AMERICAN DREAM: WORTH MORE THAN JUST MONEY