Facing Up to the American Dream
Jennifer L. Hochschild, with characteristic lucidity, examines the basic “tenets” of the American Dream within the context of recent African American experience. She addresses recent worries and “puzzles” about the dissatisfaction felt by the black middle class and some poor blacks.
The American Dream, Hochschild believes, is “the soul of the nation.” She compares the views, hopes, and fears of whites and blacks. Through data analysis and colorful narrative, she examines how they view each others’ and their own achievements and opportunities.
The rapid economic and political growth among the black middle class and their inclusion in the white middle class may confirm the American Dream in the eyes of many blacks and whites. The presence of black mayors, black professors at major universities, and black partners in prestigious law firms are indications that the American Dream is prevalent and pervasive. Hochschild calls this a “benign picture.”
Although the picture may be accurate in many respects, blacks have paid exorbitant price. Hochschild believes whites never intended for blacks to participate in the American Dream in more than an “unthreatening handful” to create the illusion that racial discrimination is all but eliminated and that everyone is genuinely free.
Middle-class blacks, who represent one-third of the African American population, are anxious about the progress of black people who...
(The entire section is 334 words.)
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