America: The Dark Side of the Dream

My essay is regarding our country's foundation of the American Dream, and how it eventually influenced my family to emigrate to the States, even in the present day of unjust immigrant laws.

By Lara A. from Staples High School in Connecticut

America: The Dark Side of the Dream

As stated by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938, the citizens of America should “[r]emember, remember always, that all of [Americans] [...] are descended from immigrants and revolutionists” (Citizen Path). Although asserted by an influential American figure, the inhabitants of this nation forget to acknowledge that the immigrants, who primarily hold America in a higher standard than the rest of the world, are still receiving constant mistreatment from the contemporary government. Therefore, even after 80 years, these words stated by the former American president have become nothing but an ideal for this international superpower to achieve. As a country that consists of an abundance of flaws, the American Dream is managed to be kept alive by the Dreamers, and the authentic patriots of this nation who believe that the foundation, and the future, of the United States, will lack stability without the presence of the immigrants who carry the aspirations of social and economic equality. Although my family withdrew themselves from the conflicts of their former community, they still carried the ideal perception of their American Creed, which consists of a vision that provides improved education and career opportunities that we continue to believe in — even in the present day of inadequate immigrant rights.

The vision of the American Dream has influenced me and my family, and many more individuals of the Turkish ethnicity, to emigrate to the United States. In his first visit to the Land of Opportunity in 1988, my father had one goal in mind: to graduate college with a title worthy of earning him an exquisite position in the business industry. When given an option to return back home post-college, he easily refused the offer because “he had more opportunities in the U.S. to pursue [his] career choice of computer engineering,” due to the fact that almost everyone in his former community was well aware that America was the only place for him to achieve his ultimate dream, and that Turkey was lacking in technological professions (Ahmet). Along with being technologically unadvanced, it has been evident over the years that Turkey is deficient in governmental stability. In the words of Carlotta Gall, the New York Times’s Istanbul bureau chief, the “fear of political persecution, terrorism, a deepening distrust of the judiciary and the arbitrariness of the rule of law, and a deteriorating business climate” has resulted in Turks “voting differently — this time with their feet” (Gall). While in this area of conflict, I realized that every main aspect for a life of success was being diminished right in front of my eyes; therefore, by following my parents’ vision about America, I handed in my future to a nation that promised better education, career, and overall quality of life. As the months passed by, it had become apparent that the epiphany of the American Dream have struck many more Turks rather than our family, which the statistics revealed by stating that the “[n]umber of emigrants increased by 42.5% compared to the previous year and reached to 253 thousand 640 people in 2017” (Turkish Statistical Institute). By the influence of the contemporary government, various of emigrants, who are the successors of the American Dream, viewed their current state of distraught as a reason to step outside of their hometown and experience the authentic ideals of America first-hand.

When faced with the reality of restrictive immigration laws that include the complete banning of Muslims, maintaining the initial perception of the Dream became challenging for me — and all the members of my family. The downfall of our expectations was commenced with the unstable rights for asylum, which ultimately are powerful enough to shift the trajectory of millions of American lives. While investigating as to why “The Middle East Doesn’t Admire America Anymore,” Steven Cook, foreign relations expert and the author of the article, noted that “the president’s Muslim ban, his subtle and not-so-subtle nods to white nationalism, and his willingness to cast aspersions on Islam have convinced people that America is not what it has long claimed to be: free, equal, and tolerant” (Cook). Because we had already moved to the U.S. during this period of injustice, we were able to realize that the nationalist stereotypes have concealed the reality of ongoing discrimination, and became the dark side of our Dream. However, as a long-term believer of the American Dream, I reminded myself that “[t]he reputation and diversity of [the] higher education system[s], along with opportunities to work in the country” was what motivated me to stay, and pursue my damaged, but alive, American Dream (Loo, 2018). By my acknowledging that there was light at the end of the tunnel for my family, I recognize that the opportunities of the United States have helped not only us, but various other immigrants to regain their trust in the nation’s promises of superior treatment.

Although the exclusion of certain groups of immigrants challenged my original creed of equality, I and my family were able to pursue our American creed by acknowledging the importance of the future that is presented to us in the Land of Opportunities. Just like any other United States citizen, the American Dream of economic success also helps immigrants to pave the way for more workforce and motivation and pays tribute to its original foundation that is based on the freedom of race, gender, and political expression. By providing these main aspects for a life of triumph, America is able to attract worldwide recognition immensely, therefore persevering its dominance of an international superpower. Without any successors of the American Dream, the exceptionalism of the United States’ creed would mean nothing, but a loss of the foundation that America has been standing on for past centuries. 

Works Cited

Ahmet. Personal interview. 5 June 2019.

Cook, Steven A. “The Middle East Doesn't Admire America Anymore.” Foreign Policy, Foreign Policy, 5 Feb. 2019,

foreignpolicy.com/2019/02/05/the-middle-east-doesnt-admire-america-anymore/.

Gall, Carlotta. “Spurning Erdogan's Vision, Turks Leave in Droves, Draining Money and Talent.” The New York Times,

The New York Times, 2 Jan. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/01/02/world/europe/turkey-emigration-erdogan.html.

“Immigration Quotes from Great Americans.” CitizenPath, CitizenPath,

citizenpath.com/immigration-quotes-great-americans/.

International Migration Statistics, 2017.” Turkish Statistical Institute, Turkish Statistical Institute, 5 Sept. 2018,

www.turkstat.gov.tr/PreHaberBultenleri.do?id=30607.

Loo, Bryce. “Education in the United States of America.” WENR, World Education Services, 16 Apr. 2019,

wenr.wes.org/2018/06/education-in-the-united-states-of-america.

Staples High School

Herzog 2A 18-19

This group is dedicated to Mrs. Herzog's English 2A 18-19 class to share their responses to the five invitations.

More letters from Staples High School

Surprise Me

More letters from Connecticut

Surprise Me

More letters about "education", "equality", "family", "immigration", and "opportunity"

Surprise Me

Writing Our Future: American Creed is part of the National Writing Project’s family of youth publishing projects, all gathered under the Writing Our Future initiative.

Writing Our Future projects are designed by educators for educators and the young people they work with. Intended for use in schools, libraries, and other educational settings. All projects are COPPA compliant and educator-managed. NWP is committed to supporting young people’s writing and civic participation by providing a safe and supportive environment for youth writing, media creation, sharing, and publishing.