Document Type

Class Paper

Publication Date

Spring 2016


For centuries, people have had the American Dream. It has permeated the media in various forms: Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby,” and even the movie “An American Tail,” where animated Russian mice sing, “There are no cats in America and the streets are full of cheese!” The term “the American Dream” was first made popular in 1931 by James Truslow Adams in his book The Epic of America. Adams believed the American Dream was a “dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” (214) He did not see it as a dream of riches or material goods, but of being able to reach one’s full potential and to be acknowledged for one’s efforts “regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.” (Adams 215) This idea of equal opportunity for all to reach their potentials and to be recognized for their achievements is clearly appealing and immigrants have poured into the United States of America from all over the world chasing this dream. After Christopher Columbus first landed in America, many Caucasian Europeans followed suit and, quickly outnumbering the Native Americans, became the majority race in America. Even with the immigration of millions of Africans, Asians, and Central and South Americans to the U.S., the Caucasians’ status as the majority race has not changed. Since Adams’ vision of the American Dream was that it applied to everyone, it should not matter if a person is a part of a racial minority or not. However, race has always been an issue, no matter where a person may be in the world, and this brings up a pertinent question: while the American Dream is meant to apply to everyone, has it ever really been accessible to everyone, racial minorities included?