american dream

02-23-2017

The history of America is the story of the great struggle between the dream of equality and the nightmare of how equality is defined. All men are created equal, but not poor men, or men of color, or women. Send me the “wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me” … but not if they are Irish, French, German, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, or Muslim.

The call of the prophet is to call one’s nation to repentance, to courageously expose the hypocrisies and contradictions between dreams and reality. America has to be awoken from the stupor of false dreams. 

Danny Duncan Collum 01-31-2017

BY THE TIME you read this, all of the important appointments in the new Trump administration will have been made, and the shape of the disaster that awaits us will be clear. Maybe the new president never did, as New Yorker satirist Andy Borowitz suggested, appoint cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. But with the appointment of fast-food mogul Andrew Puzder as secretary of labor, vulture capitalist Wilbur Ross as secretary of commerce, and Wall Street vampire Steven Mnuchin as secretary of treasury, Trump certainly spit in the face of the low-income white voters who put him over the top in the industrial Midwest.

Which brings us back to the recurring question: Why did so many blue-collar white people vote for a greedy, self-dealing billionaire in the first place? One answer is that Trump very effectively pushed the buttons of racial resentment (mostly about immigrants and Muslims) that are especially sensitive in less-educated, white areas. There is certainly something to that theory. But it doesn’t account for the fact that, as New York Times polling whiz Nate Cohn has noted, “Clinton suffered her biggest losses in the places where Obama was strongest among white voters.”

I would argue instead that Trump won primarily because he finally named the shadow that has hung, unacknowledged, over American life for at least the past 25 years: globalism. On June 28, 2016, during one of candidate Trump’s rare attempts to stay on message and give a serious public policy statement, he said, “Today, we import nearly $800 billion more in goods than we export. This is not some natural disaster. ... It is the consequence of a leadership class that worships globalism over Americanism.”

Image via RNS/Reuters/Daniel Kramer

Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, has come under fire for his friendship with Russian president Vladimir Putin – who is suspected of trying to tip the election to Trump – his lack of diplomatic experience, and the fact that he is a corporate bigwig who champions fossil fuels, even as the threat of global warming grows.

But Tillerson, whose nomination was announced on Dec. 13, may also face criticism from an unexpected quarter – social conservatives whose support was critical to Trump’s unexpected election last month.

Carmille Akande 02-12-2014
spirit of america/Shutterstock

Immigration is an issue that affects the lives of real people. spirit of america/Shutterstock

Imagine a young girl growing up in a small town going off to college then law school. She then takes the bar examination and becomes a licensed attorney. She has accomplished what most people would call the American Dream.

However, one thing is missing — her father. You see, her father was deported when she was three years old and they have been separated ever since. She has lived 30 years without him.

Her father came to this country from Nigeria. He saw America as the land of opportunity. Her mother tells her that before coming to America he believed the streets were paved with gold. I’m not sure if his statement was figurative or literal, but I do know that he saw it as a wonderful opportunity.

Her father came to this country as a student on a student visa. He was able to obtain a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. He worked hard in school and earned both degrees. He longed to begin his career as an architect in America. He desperately wanted his piece of the American Dream.

Claire Shalinsky 05-10-2013
Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in 'The Great Gatsby.' Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

The Great Gatsby doesn’t exactly fit the mold for a story about poverty. It doesn’t play into the typical genre created by Dickens or Sinclair meant to incite social change by depicting feeble orphans or working-class suffering. Gatsby is a story of excess: of tall buildings, big parties, fancy clothes, shiny cars—all that 1920s glam and glitz.

And yet — distilled to its core, The Great Gatsby is a story of poorness from the lens of richness, a rags-to-riches story where we only get to see the riches. Though high school English classes across the country paint Jay Gatsby as the poster child for the American dream and its subsequent loss, The Great Gatsby gets its poignancy not from what is lost but rather what lingers — Gatsby’s offstage childhood poverty that not even money can erase. For underneath Jay Gatsby’s million-dollar façade is James Gatz, a college-dropout, janitor-turned-swindler “young roughneck” from a poor family. 

Christopher Sofolo 04-25-2012
Flag decorated white picket fence, Bill Fehr / Shutterstock.com

Flag decorated white picket fence, Bill Fehr / Shutterstock.com

What is Ubuntu? The principle of Ubuntu was birthed in Africa and there is no direct translation of the word into English. Archbishop Desmond Tutu summarizes it well:

“You know when it is there, and it is obvious when it is absent. It has to do with what it means to be truly human, it refers to gentleness, to compassion, to hospitality, to openness to others, to vulnerability, to be available for others and to know that you are bound up with them in the bundle of life, for a person is only a person through other persons.”

The observations of my life thus far have led me to conclude that it is popular to argue for the advancement of the individual.

Lisa Sharon Harper 11-02-2011

american dream poster

Nearly 50 million Americans are currently living below the poverty line (that is $22,000 for a household of four) and half of them are working full time jobs.

In our current economic system, the "happiness" of the super-elite is secured while the lives, liberty, and access to basic needs of the rest suffer. This isn't the American Dream and it isn't God's dream either.

Lisa Sharon Harper 07-22-2011

Shakespeare said a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Maybe, but a Stink Rose by any other name (say... garlic?) might get more play.

On July 19, Campus Crusade for Christ announced its plan to officially change its name to Cru in early 2012.

Brown v. Board of Education had not yet been fought in the Supreme Court when Bill and Vonetta Bright christened their evangelical campus-based ministry Campus Crusade for Christ in 1951. The evangelical church context was overwhelmingly white, middle class, and suburban. The nation and the church had not yet been pressed to look its racist past and present in the face. The world had not yet been rocked by the international fall of colonialism, the rise of the Civil Rights movement, the disillusionment of the Vietnam War, the burnt bras of the women's liberation movement, the fall of the Berlin Wall, or the rise of the Black middle class (more African Americans now live in the suburbs than in inner cities). In short, theirs was not the world we live in today. So, the name Campus Crusade for Christ smelled sweet. Over the past 20 years, though, it has become a Stink Rose ... warding off many who might otherwise have come near.

Tim Kumfer 07-06-2011

Smack dab in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer, obscured by old translations and otherworldly assumptions, is a radical cry for Jubilee justice

Ismael Ruiz Millan 05-09-2011
[Editors' Note: This month, Sojourners and Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform will be featuring "The Stories of Immigration" blog series.
Noel Castellanos 03-10-2011
"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the [Lord], is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." (James 1:27)
Kiran Thadhani 01-26-2011
"To win the future" was a catch phrase for President Obama during his State of the Union address Tuesday night.
We set aside a national holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. because he welded an ethos of agape love onto the founding principles of the United States.
I confess: I used to cringe every time I heard the "R" word.
Janis Bowdler 06-15-2010
A recent study authored by National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the Center for Community Capital at the University of North Carolina found that family bonds were profoundly distressed after exper
Aaron Taylor 05-21-2010
Sometimes in life you learn best not from the times that you shine, but from the times that you act like a total ignoramus. It seems that racism and fear of outsiders are on the rise in the U.S.A.
Crissy Brooks 04-30-2010
Recently I turned to a conservative, white businessman friend to get some insight into how immigrants enhance our culture.
Neeraj Mehta 03-31-2010
Why are people poor? Why do they stay poor? What would it take to get them out of poverty? These are major questions that have been heavily debated for a century in our country.

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