American Dream

By ignoring and isolating the marginalized areas in our society, the United States does not give everyone a fair opportunity to have the American Dream. Instead, it places these people in a never ending cycle.

 “As a nation, you don’t know yourself because of what you’re doing in the heart of your power. You know who you are and what your values really are by how they play out at your farthest farthest edges,” explains Dominican-American author, Junot Diaz. The way a nation takes action for certain people and areas or neglects to take action for said people and areas reveals the strengths or weaknesses of the nation. Rather than help the people in marginalized areas by doing everything to give them a fair opportunity at the American Dream, the government chooses to neglect them and isolate them.

In the United States, the government implements programs to do just enough to help those in poverty survive. The welfare system gives those in poverty enough to eat, but does little to help those people get jobs that will help them get out of poverty. The high rates of people on welfare are a result of the lack of equal education. The children in the marginalized areas in the United States do not get an equal education. However, by 2020, 65% of jobs will require college experience. When they do not have the college experience because they were not given an efficient education, the majority of these people get minimum wage jobs, which in most cases, is not enough to make a living for themselves and their families. These people then seek welfare assistance. Nevertheless, they are not given the tools they need to make a better life for themselves. Instead, they are only given the minimum in order to survive. As a result, many turn to stealing or selling drugs which results in incarceration.

The United States makes up 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prison population. Why? Because the nation would rather get rid of the people they see as a problem than try to help them get better. The government is able to target poor neighborhoods by criminalizing the possession and distribution of drugs, the main source of income for many people in marginalized areas. Because the majority of those in prison are poor and uneducated, it is difficult for them to find jobs that pay well. These people then turn to selling drugs because it pays more than McDonald's and it keeps the lights on. The government then chooses to make this a crime, sentencing the poor at disproportionate rates. then, civil death attacks, depriving ex-felons of the right to vote and crippling their ability to get a job, housing, etc., when they are released from prison, giving many people few options but to go back to the illegal activity they were doing before.

We place these children in a never ending cycle like the hands on a clock. The hands continue to tick as the children who receive a poor education grow up to be adults who need welfare assistance and then transition into adults who are incarcerated for doing what they feel they have to do in order to survive. The United States government chooses to deal with the people in their most marginalized areas in society by ignoring them and isolating them, demonstrating that it cares more about how the nation appears to others than the wellbeing of its inhabitants; demonstrating that the American Dream was never meant to be reality for everyone.

Canyon Springs HS and Leadership & Law Academy

AP Lang Period 3-Roos

Students responded to the prompt: In 2016, Dominican-American author Junot Diaz observed, “As a nation, you don’t know yourself because of what you’re doing in the heart of your power. You know who you are and what your values really are by how they play out at your farthest farthest edges.” Diaz claims that nations reveal who they are by how they treat their most marginalized areas. Write an essay that argues your position on the extent to which Diaz’s claims are valid. Use appropriate examples from your reading, experience, or observations to support your argument.

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