The Voice

First Word: Dream on, America

Chloe DeVitis Op, Ed Editor

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     What is the American dream? We all hear people talk about it time and time again and have known what it was since elementary school. Teachers, among others, have taught us that the American dream is what makes us, as a nation, unique. It is the very foundational spirit we all believe in that ignited the values of freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all.

     But the real question is: Freedom and upward mobility for whom? People left and right have migrated to America to get their own taste of this imagined sweetness to be followed by disappointment in the late 1800s into the 1900s, but the fact of the matter is that this dream didn’t even apply to many American citizens until far later.

    The United States of America holds the value of freedom very close to our red, white and blue hearts, but for decades this only applied to one type of person: the white guy. Remember that atrocious time when blacks, among other minorities, were treated as sub-human and as objects to be traded? Or when children, women and immigrants were working in extremely poor and dangerous factory conditions with a wage that was cents away from slavery? What about the constant battle for social equality from people within the LGBTQA+ community? Is that what you picture when you think of the “American dream”?  

      Let’s not forget that equality did not begin where segregation ended. Discrimination in real estate, jobs and within the police force still live on today that has lasting effects that continue to be limiting. People who say, “I don’t get what the big deal is, slavery happened a long time ago,” still have yet to understand these lasting effects cause income inequality, massive incarceration rates and a huge difference in intergenerational wealth that many times leads to restraints that don’t apply to others.

      And let’s not forget the LGBTQA+ community. Remember how long it took Reagan to really address the AIDS epidemic?  It wasn’t until thousands of people had died until he even said the word AIDS and his communications director even called it: “nature’s revenge on the gay man” (sfgate.com). It also wasn’t until recently that gay marriage even became legal. This struggle for freedom and equality still lives and is now having an effect on those who are transgender.

      The American dream was never a constant, but it is a constantly changing idea that transforms with the direction of American culture and values. Freedom and liberty can be given, taken away and they take on different definitions depending on who you talk to.  There are groups of people within the United States who are still trying to reach for that dream that other people may have already been living for years.  

     I feel that this is why people kneel for the national anthem at football games. This is why people protest. These people are not the disrespectful haters of America, but the people who remind us that freedom, equality and access to mobility are values that need continuous maintenance and attention. I encourage people to protest and to kneel because we need to acknowledge that the American dream was never the perfected reality of what we really imagined.

Chloe is a senior Anthropology major. She is the communications coordinator for the Bloomsburg Democrats and the German club Secretary.  She is the Op/Ed Editor for The Voice

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First Word: Dream on, America