What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about America? Is it freedom? Equality? Diversity? Maybe it’s all of these things combined, or maybe it’s none. America means something different to everyone, but many of our core values are the same. The ideas our country was founded on are still relevant today and still an important factor in our lives. One of the most important beliefs in our society is the American Dream, which is not what it used to be. The American Dream is a dream for equality, prosperity, diversity, and acceptance.

The American Dream has deteriorated over time, or at least that’s what the article “The Transformation of the American Dream” by Robert J. Shiller says. Material goods and their worth have become increasingly important in our society. Forbes Magazine has started an “American Dream Index” which is based on material measures of prosperity such as bankruptcies, entrepreneurship, labor participation rate, and unemployment claims (Shiller). This perspective on the American dream is more common than it used to be and different from the usual definition of the American Dream. This difference becomes more obvious when looking at James Truslow Adams’ book “The Epic of America” published in 1931. This book is an advocate of opportunity based on ability and social order in which everyone is able to realize their full potential while being “recognized by others for what they are” (Adams qtd. in Shiller). The contrast between now and then becomes glaring after looking at these sources side by side.

Langston Hughes is one of the most well known poets in America for his work about the country. In his poem Let America be America Again, Hughes details the foundation of American society. He writes as though equality, diversity, freedom, sovereignty, are all important qualities in America. Hughes then goes on refute this belief by saying how America has never been America to him; he hasn’t experienced equality like it was meant to experienced. His exact words are “There’s never been equality for me, Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free”” which shows that although equality is one of our founding pillars, America is not always equal. According to Hughes, equality is a part of the American Dream but the fact that he has not experienced it shows how the dream is changing.

Despite the inequality that plagues our country, we have long remained a beacon of hope. The values of America are deeply rooted in our history according to “What it Means to Be an American in 2016” by Michael Cooper Jr., but we need to make a return to those traditions. Right now America has allowed “commercialism to take root” (Cooper Jr.) similar to what the first article said. We have allowed materialism to make an appearance. This is in violation of American traditions and values, and shows the step back we have taken, focusing on material goods. When our country was founded, there was a focus on what were to be American values, and what rights the people would have. The materialism Cooper Jr. speaks of is a depart from these original American principles, revealing the change in the American Dream.

America has long been known as a place of freedom, equality, and diversity but these characteristics don’t always apply. We need to step up to help preserve our American identity to stop from heading down this dark path. To get back to our American Dream is to come together and make a change. What will you do to keep the original American Dream alive?

Works Cited
Cooper Jr., Michael. “What It Means to Be an American in 2016.” U.S. News, 4 July 2016, www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2016-07-04/what-it-means-to-be-an-american-in-2016 Accessed 2 October 2017
Hughes, Langston. “Let America Be America Again.” Poets.org, Academy of American Poets, 25 Oct. 2016, m.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/let-america-be-america-again. Accessed 2 October 2017
Shiller, Robert J. “The Transformation of the ‘American Dream.’” The New York Times, The New York Times, 4 Aug. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/08/04/upshot/the-transformation-of-the-american-dream.html. Accessed 2 October 2017

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CC BY-SA 4.0 Is the American Dream Changing? by Emilee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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4 Comments
  1. Sovann 12 months ago

    Emilee,
    Great post! It was well written and supported, making me think a lot. I do agree that the American Dream has changed, but I don’t know if it’s for the better or for the worse. To me, my American Dream is similar to James Truslow Adams’ and Langton Hughes’. However I know that for other people it may be more of how Shiller views it. Due to the uniqueness of each person, it means that there are many versions of the American Dream. Dreams change, that is the beauty of them, and it makes me wonder what the American Dream will be like in twenty years. Will it go back to the older American Dream? Will it stay the same? Or will it be completely different than either of those?

  2. Heather 12 months ago

    Emilee, I really liked your post. I like how you used examples of people’s feelings form the past and the present. I agree with what you said at the end about how we need to get back on track and care about morals. I love your call to action at the end. It really got me thinking!

  3. Mia 12 months ago

    Emilee, this is a wonderfully written post! America has changed drastically in the past century, even in the past decade, and descriptive words of America are changing. As you said, many of our values and desires have changed which reflect on our image. Our robust desire for materials has caused our nation as a whole to take a step back from preserving our American identity of ‘America the Brave’. I love how you included Hughes’ poem’s description of American society having equality, diversity, freedom, and sovereignty. In my opinion, we have evolved into these qualities and I don’t think we have always had these qualities. I believe that the only way our nation can keep our American dream alive is by evolving it year by year. I have found a website that sheds a little bit of light on our American Dream, and I hope it furthers your research. It describes how the American Dream is a search for happiness and how it has changed over time. I am excited to see the final result of this paper! https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-the-american-dream-today-3306027

  4. Sara 12 months ago

    Hi Emilee, thank you for sharing your post. I found your ideas on the change in the american dream very interesting. I agree very much with your example from Langston Hughes, where he said “There’s never been equality for me, Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free””. Even though equality and freedom are some of America’s main values, that doesn’t mean they happen, and it doesn’t mean they happen the same for everyone. I also agree that the transformation towards an american dream about possessions is unfortunate, if it is possible shifting back towards the original dream would be a wonderful achievement as a country. But thank you again for sharing I really enjoyed your post.

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