Johan Orellana, Ecuatorianx (2016)
In 2016, a year after migrating to the US, I was asked by my english teacher to give her my social security number so she could sign me up for college classes at a local community college. I didn't have one, I didn't know what a SSN was at the time. I went home and I started asking my parents and other relatives, that had lived in the country for a longer period, about it but they avoided the questions. My school principal and parents laid out my options; the military or marrying a US citizen.
BS, Italy (2017)
I moved to New York in 2011. I had no money but I found a full time job and things went well for a while. In 2017, I got my green card as an artist and I decided to be a freelancer/gig worker to give the best of my time to my art practice, giving up a job with benefits —but crazy mandatory overtime. When I needed a doctor, as a freelancer with a cheap health insurance plan, I was deeply shocked. I began studying, reading more and I couldn’t stop crying about how cruel/senseless the system is.
Yvonna Pearson, American (2009)
As a black American, I was raised with an instinctual awareness of the lies told by the “American Dream”, but always hopeful that with the right effort I could overcome those lies. The dream died for me on 1/1/2009, the day Oscar Grant was executed by a police officer. It was the first pubic lynching I’d seen. A quote came to mind: we are our ancestors wildest dreams come to life. That day I saw those dreams shot in the back while lying prone on the concrete floor.
Tassy, Human (2020)
I’ve been trying since I was five to revive the American Dream. It was wounded seriously when my parents sold their farm and declared bankruptcy. Near fatal blows happened in 2014 with Michael Brown’s death and when a hater of humanity was elected President in 2016. But when much of the nation and most of the government refused to believe in the virus I was fighting every day at work, I pronounced it dead. My life is worse than my parents because we’re living in a failed state.
Pablo, Argentine (2020)
Moved to the US in Nov 2019, right before the pandemic. For me, the American Dream didn’t even started.
Zeelie Brown, USA, Black (2020)
My American dream died on a slave market auction block in Norfolk, VA in 1850.
Jessica Carolina González, Central American (2016)
The American Dream had always seemed unreachable to me because I saw how hard my immigrant mother worked to barely scrape by. We almost lost our home, we often couldn’t afford our utilities and we would have to “steal” water in the mornings to go to work and school. The dream completely died when Trump was elected. In that same year, after 27 years of battling against US immigration, my mother's residency application was denied through my sponsorship. We’re still fighting to change that.
Ray Andresson, American (2020)
After graduating high school in 2008, I went to college, as was expected by my parents. They said I'd be setting myself up for a lifetime of working fast food if I didn't go. Then me and most of my friends, regardless of our majors, gender or race, we all finished college and ended up working the same kinds of jobs we would have gotten if we'd never gone to college. My American Dream died when I realized that no matter how hard I worked, I'll never earn enough to buy a house.
Philip Herter, American (2020)
When I saw the President of the United States mocking a disabled person. I saw the president of my country make fun of my infant daughter who had only recently suffered a stroke. I saw how hard her future would be, thanks to the president of my country.
Bill Stoddart, American (2020)
The American dream died for me when I realized our allegiance to the myth of rugged individualism has completely overwhelmed our willingness and ability to lift others up. It seems we have decided there is only so much pie available, so we better get what we can without realizing that in buying into a zero sum game, we have made a bargain that not only limits our own ability to thrive, but prevents others from doing so as well.
Lianna Evans, American (2020)
Born in 1978 I grew up in poverty. I graduated high school at 15, had a child at 16, and went to college when I was 21. I've worked for state and federal government for almost 20 years and have too little to show for it. Without family support I took out student loans that have crippled me ever since and the federal SLFP is a joke. No assets, less than $60k in retirement, 5 kids, and a doctorate degree that pays less than an RN. How is my dream even a dream at this point? It's only a wish....
Gordon Alderink, American Dutch/German (2020)
It never died because it never existed. I think this idea of the American dream was a marketing scheme, pure and simple. The idea is a false god, a "holy grail" that does not exist, it is a delusion. What does exist for me is to make meaning through my experiences.
Howard Pulchin, American (2020)
My American dream was born October 2, 2005 when I met the man who would become my husband. It came alive on September 24, 2011 when we were married in front of friends and family. It thrived June 26, 2015 when the SCOTUS made marriage equality the law. It withered when our current president and his vice-president took office and began to dismantle our rights. My American dream died October 26, when a woman who served on the board of an anti-LGBTQ school was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice.
David S. Schwittek, American (2001)
You know those movies where a group of strangers wake up in an unfamiliar place and have to work together to find a way out, or kill each other trying? That’s what it is like here now.
The American Dream died on 9/11, 2001, tragically punctured in its vital organs by armed men and airplanes. Later on the US debased and abandoned its most cherished precept: human dignity, devolving into preemptive war, torture, murder, terrorism and, eventually, despotism.
Kimberley Berry, African American (2020)
The day I realized that now matter how hard I work, or how smart and educated I am, as a Black woman in America I will always be perceived as invisible.
Jim Harper, American (2020)
My dreamscape is dying. Growing up in South Florida, I had the privilege of breathing salty air and visiting the Florida Keys, where I first saw a coral reef. The ocean was an endless source of inspiration, and I thought it could never be altered fundamentally. Then around 2005 I learned about how the water is becoming more acidic, the corals are slowly burning to death, and people are to blame. A dying planet kills all dreams.
Diane Leach, American (2020)
My "AD" died a slow death beginning around 2001. America slowly shifted towards hate & polarization. Tolerance & respect went too. A culture of judges, like that on reality shows became the order of the day. American entrpeneurs took immature opinions and perceptions too far, i.e. Facebook - it ruined humanity. More than ever it's each person for themself, with social graces and tolerance and the ability to reason is gone. Emotion is valued over reason. The golden age of America is dead.
Parijat Kalia, Indian (2020)
When I realized that the employment-based green card wait time for Indian citizens is at least 50 years.
Shell Scott, American (2020)
My American dream died at Abu Ghraib. I realized that the America I was born into had died. People don't realize that this is just a trial balloon for horrors in the future, where this kind of thing finally gets done on Americans in large numbers. People also don't realize that tearing down the system will not result in some beautiful blank slate they can write their dreams on. Foreign powers will come in and exert control long before that. If you have eyes to see, it's happening already.
Judi Cheng, Chinese-American (2017)
The American dream died for me when my elderly parents and I were on a public bus, speaking our Chinese language, and an old white man told my 88 year old father (who has worked and lived in NYC since 1968) to “Shut up! Go back to your own country!”
My father replied, “YOU shut up, this IS my country!” It was very upsetting, given all of my father’s 40 years slaving away in dangerously hot Chinese restaurant kitchens, cooking meals for NYC workers.
Karen Kimmerly, American (2020)
My American dream died when the auto plant where both I and my husband worked closed in 2008. He was able to move to another plant; I regret to say that I took a buyout to go back to school. Now, multiple degrees later, I earn less than half of what I did as a skilled trades person with a good union job. I have a Masters degree and I love my job as a public librarian but if anything happened to my husband I would be unable to support myself.
Nancy Roberts, American (2020)
In the late 1950s when I watched, on my parents' black-and-white TV, white people screaming and spitting at black children in the South because they wanted to go to better schools. I was a white girl in California, aged around 9 or 10. I believed then and still do that "All men are created equal" (I would say "all people" today). It broke my heart and my faith in my country to learn that other Americans do not believe this. That faith has never been restored.
D, United States (1958)
My American dream died when I realized that the color or my skin is a permanent marker of inferiority in a land where my existence is defined as "other." It died the first day that I was called a nigger. It died when I was not considered for a job for which I was eminently qualified. My American dream actually perished at my birth and as I grew up to see the anxiety it reflected in the faces of my parent's and others around me. However, I am still optimistic about the future of my country.
I lost faith in the "American dream" when I came out of college owing $40,000 in debt. Most jobs wouldn't accept me because I didn't have enough "experience" and it would be impossible to live on my own without a roommate or support from my parents while paying off my loans every month. I worry every day about what my future will look like and how I will ever thrive while having to pay off so much debt.
Trudi Young Taylor, American/Scottish (2016)
When a presidential candidate belittled a seasoned reporter as “Little Katy,” knowingly whipping up such a hostile environment, she had to be escorted to her car by the Secret Service. All because he was angry from an earlier interview. I knew at that moment, America was unraveling, and freedom of speech was dying. What other rights will vanish?
At my mother’s urging, I immigrated to the US. She thought it would be safer after living through Europe’s Holocaust. I think she might be wrong.
Lisa Kim, S. Korean (2017)
The American Dream died for me when Trump removed DACA in 2017. Yes, I was aware of my "illegal" status since I was 12. However, I still believed in the American Dream. I worked hard, went to a top university, signed up for DACA, and embarked my corporate life in NYC. Within 2 years, I closed my accounts, said my rounds of goodbye, broke my soul saying goodbye to my mom, and moved to London. Now, I cannot return 10 years to life. Death to my American Dream but a new life of freedom.
Miguel, USA - moved to Mexico (1950)
Having read most of these stories, I say this to all these people: 1- Study the planet & identify a place/country /culture where you find better conditions than you have in the usa. 2-. Move there.
Michele Marasca, American (2020)
The American Dream died for me in 2020 as I watched my only child struggle to understand the world that he lives in. How could I explain the world I grew up in compared to what my child faces. I watch as my son tries to navigate his way through a world where there is a pandemic, drug addiction, a planet in crisis, unaffordable education, racism and a social divide stoked by our lesser angels. What has my generation left for future generations and how will they ever have their American Dream?
Emma Cunningham-Bradshaw, American (2019)
An American raised overseas, I observed from afar the policy decisions that are degrading our planet, FAILING OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM, oppressing women & immigrants & black & brown & gay folk... Yet, the minds of the White Men (and those who think like them) are also oppressed since they are unable to envision true justice and beauty. I observed the ignorance and sighed. But wait! I am American. I am American...? We are disconnected.
No community, no USA.
Chelsea Darter, American (2010)
The American Dream wavered for me many times. I was 5 years old when I realized my value as a woman would never equate to the value of a man. I was 12 when my queer identity was dismissed and diminished. I was 19 when I felt shame for my class precariousness among my upper middle - class peers in college. The Dream finally died in my early 20's when I witnessed the ghosts of poverty and trauma overtake members of my family who followed the rules, who by all accounts, were supposed to make it.
Lew Allison, Irish English (2020)
I am white, awakening from my "American dream." My childhood and teens seem a fantasy, each year starting in autumn at excellent schools and concluding with bright days of summer at the beach. A public university prepared me for a profession that turned away all who did not look like me. I stirred in 1968 and 1994 and opened my eyes in 2020 and wept in anger.
Belinda Nicoll, USA (South Africa) (2001)
We arrived as South African expats on 9/11. After the terrorist attack, visa and green card applications stalled for three years. I quickly learned that a trailing spouse without a social security number have no rights; I couldn’t even open a utility account on behalf of my husband. As ten-hour+ work days and frenzied business trips consumed him, my sense of isolation in a hostile culture escalated. My career, self-esteem, and our marriage suffered—the undisclosed price of The American Dream.
A. Alterman, American (1994)
The first time I was unemployed and I heard people telling me that it was my fault the company I worked for let me go in a massive downsizing. The company had said they'd rehire all of us once they had money to. It's been over 25 years.
An accumulation of little facts that killed the dream. Seeing my hard work mean nothing. Watching the cost of living increase while our salaries didn't. Seeing money spent on corporations and none on us. GOP not giving Obama's SCOTUS nominee a hearing.
Joseph Kanowitz, USA (2001)
First, upon being raised to put my trust in telecommunications only for surveillance to become the norm. Then when told to medicate to tolerate that norm. Then again, after 10 years of defending Americans' rights with my father, an attorney, seeing how careless and brazen his colleagues became upon his passing, leaving me without a home and with a mound of paperwork no one can complete accurately or afford to complete.
Wendy Diffendall, U.S. Citizen (1984)
My dream died when my husband and I went through 5 years of injuries and illnesses that left us in debt and struggling to pay bills. We had to wait to buy a house for 10 years and could only do it because it was a private sale of a house that needed major work. We were able to do enough work for it to be livable, but in 2000 and 2004 I had to undergo cancer treatments that cost my life savings and left us in debt again. We live on Social Security in an unfinished home. My dream is to die soon.
Rissa, Black American (unfortunately) (1983)
When I realized regardless of who says it or how many times and ways the phrase Black Lives Matter is expressed, it will never be true in America.
Sylvia H Blackwell, African American (1976)
Denied enrollment in College of Liberal Arts -Temple University in 1945, my desire to become a psychologist evaporated as enrollment quoto for black students was full. Unaware of the existence of racism in colleges, I revised my career aims, became a teacher in a public school in Philadelphia, and pioneered TV programs using Spiderman, Happy Days and Fat Albert booklets into reading classroom materials--adopted in time nationally by CBS.... Overturning an Obituary! 1988-retired
Jim Robinson, USA (2016)
The dream died the night Donald Trump won the presidency. Watching people I thought I knew cheer on his hate-filled agenda is demoralizing beyond belief. I've been a teacher my entire adult life. Trump fleeced people with Trump "University." Worse, he took people's valuable time and did so without a second thought. He can never restore that. He is an evil man.
Corinne, White (2012)
My idealistic American Dream had been on life support since second grade when I realized that no matter how much I tried, I would never be as important as the boys. It officially died in 2012 when I finally gained my bachelor's degree and realized that it was worthless. I wasted so much time and money trying to have a life that was as good as my parents'. Even now with a Master's degree, I struggle far more than my parents did at my age, and neither of them finished college!
Mark Warren, US (2020)
My American Dream contracted slow-growing cancer with Ronald Reagan, who persuaded the nation that greed was a good thing, government was demonic, and who spouted the most transparent lies about our support for some of the worst injustice on earth. Through periods of ups and downs, the cancer slowly grew over 35 years. With Trump’s ascendancy from gutter to leader, my American Dream is now hospitalized, perhaps on its death bed. Still, it is hard to give up the hope it might recover.
Mary Ann Maikish, American (1950)
It never existed!!!! My father was born in this country Manhattan NY. Seven children 2 adults lived in 3 rooms tub in kitchen. Dad bathed in public baths. My grandparents from Austria/Hungary spoke only German. Therefore my dad spoke only German and when he started school in 1914 we were at war with Germany so the kids in school beat him up physically and psychologically so that he spoke English without an accent and refused to teach us German. Would say to his mom English mom English
Kathleen Dahl, Norwegian-American (2015)
The American Dream died for me when retiring after 31 years as a tenured English professor, carefully saving for my financial security in retirement, the judge in Minnesota divorce court told me I was not credible and denied my legal right to protect my pension. Now, at age 68, I have no income, no assets, and the court refuses to order upper middle-class white male ex-husband to pay delinquent support. When the judge told me to “get over it and move on,” my American dream shattered.
Ruth Hunt, American (1999)
It came crashing down when the hospital I had worked in for 20 years dumped it's company sponsored pension plan & later closed leaving me with no retirement security except Social Security. I then had to work as an RN until age 75 to save for retirement. Now with old age looming on the horizon & the outrageous medical bills that are sure to follow, I have no real financial security and worse yet no peace of mind. It's hell to get old in America unless you are wealthy. Photo: 1969-young & naive
Enrico Rosetti, American (1983)
The American dream died in the cradle. There was chattel slavery, land theft and genocide, a knee-jerk revulsion to and exclusion of every new wave of immigrants. There were dirty politics, stolen elections and misbegotten wars all the way back. The American dream was a platonic ideal that was never meant to be attainable. It was a pack mule every politician in the land could strap his message to in order to get it to market. That all started to crystalize when I was 16. Reagan was President.
Jim Walsh, American (2010)
When I compared the cost of my education with that of my children. I’m a Boomer of Irish ancestry and had seen how each generation was able to do better educationally and financially than the one before, going all the way back to the Potato Famine. It was clear to me that this was over. My kids were privileged in many ways, and well educated, but it came with a much higher cost. Taking a broader view, I could see how systems kept the powerful in power. Income inequality exploded.
Barbara Chandler, U. S. (2020)
After a four year debilitating illness that begin in 2017, the American Dream took a gasping last breath through a ventilator and died in 2020: the year of a deadly pandemic willfully uncontrolled by the White House, racial injustice and hate fanned by the flames of a sociopathic President, and the final nail in the coffin: the more than 40% of Americans who want another four years of this exhausting, devastating chaos.
Andrew Harris, American (2018)
When after fifteen years of mental health therapy I realized I would never get better in America. My treatments were dictated by insurance and pharmaceutical corporations, not by myself or my doctors. I worked jobs I hated just to have insurance so I could then pay exorbitant rates for therapy and pills. I was caught in the purgatory of depression that consumes so many millions of Americans. Ours is a system that profits from illness, not cures - and certainly not from happiness or wellbeing.
Jennifer, American (1986)
My sons were born prematurely in Florida, and they got amazing care. But after their birth, my husband and I, newly married with no assets, got a 250,000$ hospital bill. For over 25 years, we paid it back. We could never get a loan, buy a house, a car, or think about saving for our children's education, so we moved to Europe to raise our family. My sons went to the university, have good jobs, and own their own houses - things they would have never gotten if we'd stayed in the USA.
Rosemary Reichard, American, Italian descent (2000)
My WWII Vet dad succeeded in moving his family of 8, from Brooklyn to the NJ suburbs in 1954, where my life was privileged. We have argued about politics since I can remember, as he’s conservative, I’m liberal. We did agree on trust in the Supreme Court’s ability to do the right thing, until 2000. My American Dream was lost when they gave Bush the presidency. Over time, court decisions on voting, guns, politics, made me realize I can never again count on SCOTUS to be neutral. My heart breaks.
Michael Shaw, australian (2003)
I was in Los Angeles and reported to emergency with a spider bite that had occurred the previous day in Sydney. I was prescribed some fairly basic antibiotics that would cost about $12 dollars at home. They cost me $226 for the generic version in California, and the minimum hourly wage is $12 per hour. I realised then that the American dream was dead. Working people can't afford basic health care. What kind of dream is that?
Lauren Carter, USA (1971)
When I began to realize corporations always beat out the people: we knew how to deal with pollution but corporate interests kept it going; that politicians were willing to send our young to die in an unwinnable war for a dubious cause; that people born on third base were always going to have the laws in their favor; that we knew how to solve almost all our problems, but financial interests stopped us from doing that, so the rich could stay that way.
Jessamin Swearingen, American (2016)
Let’s be honest: America has always been a private party for wealthy white men, but in 2016 it went off the rails. I was a school-aged kid when the Reagan administration gutted the middle class. But four years of Trump has gutted our morality.
Christina, American (2002)
I’m a white woman from a military family, who worked hard to get into good schools on scholarships, served in the Peace Corps and achieved success against the odds as a female in a male career. One day I was falsely accused of leaking classified information. I was never indicted, and the news source denied I was the source, but I lost everything— my job, my security clearance and my life savings. I learned that due process, innocence and justice were for the politically connected, not me.
Martina X, Black (1983)
Where to begin? Was it at age 4 not understanding why my mother was so enraged at a word that rhymed with Tigger from Winnie the Pooh? Was it when my first "boyfriend" would walk 20 paces ahead of me and sexually experiment, never date, with me in high school? Was it when my guidance counselor tried to steer me to state colleges despite straight As and extra-curriculars? And everything since. My dream died when I was born. Amerikkka is a nightmare, its people soulless demons.
Kat Cade, American (1992)
The American Dream doesn't exist for anyone who isn't white and male. It died when I realized I'd always have to work three jobs to make ends meet. It dies every time some MAN introduces legislation to strip bodily autonomy away from everyone who isn't a MAN. It died when I realized that as a woman I will never be considered a person by the majority of men. It dies with the planet, which has been brutalized in the name of capital. The American Dream is a fantasy.
C. Smith, US (1985)
Was it the 80s burning an American flag to protest banning free speech, and a group of college Republicans 3x as large chanted "USA-USA-USA"? Was it when a nonprofit where I worked went bankrupt, because of "business mindset" trustees who signed off on the org. monetizing (mortgaging) assets? Is it when I run into Ivy League alumni with every privilege who've been laid off from corporate America or barely afford rent? Or is it every day I read Trump has millions of supporters?
Alex Manfos, American (1980)
My American Dream died when the chance of making more money than my parents became less of a certainty and more of a coinflip. My generation now is more likely to earn LESS money than my parents. That's when it died for me.
DRS, American (2019)
The American Dream began to crumble as soon as I was able to think critically, in middle school. At that time, the first surge of the Black Lives Matter movement began and I began to understand intersectional and systemic oppression. The pinnacle of its death for me was when I applied to colleges. That’s when I really realized how people who had more money had a headstart in life and how economic oppression was related to all other forms of oppression.
Tyler Johnson, American (2020)
My American dream died when I was very young, or rather failed to even blossom into anything worthwhile. For reference, I'm 25 now. I grew up with parents that are upwards of $200,000 in debt to student loans that they will never pay back. I grew up always worrying that if I were to ask too much of them, they would suffer even more. During my early 20s, I moved across the states with little saved, and all I found was extreme wealth inequality like I've never seen. I never believed in it.
Jefferson, American (2020)
I'm a product of the 60s, MLK, march on Washington, Pete Seeger yelling to Nixon, "can you hear that, Nixon?" as a hundred thousand people sang, "All we are saying, is give peace a chance." When George Wallace got 15% of the vote, I thought, ok, 15% of the population is racist. Write them off, 80/20 rule. When Donald Trump gets a solid and unwavering 40% of the vote, it's disheartening. Especially since he lost the election, like Bush, in the popular vote. Electoral college has to go.
doug shaeffer, turtle island (1966)
it may have died in 3rd grade when i refused to recite the pledge of allegiance, but it was never a dream for me, i just knew instinctively the pledge of allegiance was hollow and coercive. i don't know how i knew at 7, and now i have fifty more years of the antics of empire in my cognitive apparatus, and now i know what knew but didn't know i knew then.
Steve Hansen, White (2020)
The dream not died for me yet, but it has not progressed either. I've done the math. Adjusted for inflation, our family is on par with my parents. The concern is for my kids who are in college. There are structural challenges in our country that may make it harder for them to have the American dream. Those changes include the ballooning national debt, and the eventual insolvency of Social Security that is still not fixed. Unfortunately the American Dream may die with me.
Marsha McDonald, American (2020)
The American dream died for me when I realized just how many of my fellow Americans valued selfishness over community, power over justice, prejudice over fairness, greed over generosity, demagoguery over science. For me, the 2020 pandemic is very real, but also a metaphor. How sick our national soul is! The old dream should pass away. Isn't it time for us to dream new dreams, better dreams, that include us all?
Luis Barcelo, Cuban (1990)
I was already struggling with the American Dream having recently read the Autobiography of Malcolm X when the US invaded Panama. I was in my first year of college and openly protested the war when I was told by classmates that if I didn’t like this country I should get out. I was so angry because my parents gave up everything in their homeland for the idea of freedom, only to have their son be told that freedom was only meant for those who follow the status quo.
Hench E. M. Smith, Un-American (2000)
The American Dream died in 2000 when the Supreme Court appointed a madman president. His junta turned America into
a cannibal nation. Imperialist bloodshed does not condone dreams. It demands nightmares.
Lucas, Hispanic (Yes) (2004)
In my second go at art school, none of the previous credits transferred prior to 2002 and that school paid off. I was told if I wanted to enroll, I had to sign the paper. Signed it. Starting over my credits and was "pretty talented" wanted to join the interdisciplinary path for my 3rd year, already taking most of the courses. Director of the painting dept denied my request. Life & all happened, school and work both FT. I finally broke, left school 2004 and still paying just for signing a paper.
Mowgli Olenason, Borders are the death of humanity (2001)
Seeing the absurdities of the worldwide US military involvement, and with 9/11 exposed the racial power structures in such a profound way, highlighting the need for profit over a human life. And lo' and behold, from hobby lobby to the White House we're being shown that We, the people, have to protest for basic truths and safeties on our own soil? The guardians have turned to gluttons, be it nationalistic or capitalistic, and such uncaring natures can only lead to calamitous ruin.
Oliver Henry, American (2008)
2008 was the year I moved out of home to attend college. The experience of education was life changing, as was the $60k debt I accrued attending a college that cost $200k for a 4 year degree. I was fortunate to have obtained a 160k in scholarship money but it was not enough. I am now educated enough to see how the world could be but straddled with too much debt to take advantage of it. I’ve paid $500 a month for the last 8 years and am still 60k in debt.
Lee Rossi, Meso-European (1965)
The ’60’s were a terrible decade. All my heroes, MLK, Bobby Kennedy, Malcolm X, were murdered. They were too radical, a real challenge to what we then called the System but now call White Supremacy. Looking back, the death of Malcolm affected me most. More than the preacher’s son or the wealthy bootlegger’s son, he embodied the Dream, jailbird to voice of his people. His murder meant that the Dream was just window dressing for the grim facts of racial and economic oppression.
Lynnda Pardoe, Mixed (2020)
When I lost my position of ten years due to the gross ineptitude of the Covid response. Am now unable to find new employment, due to an issue with age discrimination in hiring. I went through undergrad and grad school hoping for the dream of an independent life. Being self sufficient shouldn’t be an unattainable dream for the citizens of any country.
Thomas Vannatter, American (2009)
I'm now 40, still paying on student loans after being denied multiple times the PSLF forgiveness, unable to purchase a house or have any savings despite or perhaps because of my Masters Degree that I received in 2009 at the height of the Great Recession. I have since resigned myself that I will never be able to retire, that my retirement plan will likely be to spend my final years struggling to survive. We were told that education would better ourselves, instead it showed me the game is rigged.
Sarah, US citizen: 2nd gen dad’s side; DAR mom’s side (2008)
We married young with nothing. He got a teaching job. I got a salesclerk job b/c I didn’t have a college degree. Over the years he got an MBA (paid by an accident settlement from which he still has pain). He worked his way up in business; I finished my degree & worked as a freelance copy editor while raising our son. We lived frugally and saved like heck for college & retirement. Paid $1500+/mo for health insurance we never used. Losing ~40% in ‘08 killed the dream; Trump/Covid buried it.
Sandy Sanders, Caucasian (1967)
I believed in my conservative parents. My schools. Our newspapers & news programs. My community, friends & peers. The existing system was fair, with difficulties, but politics was the fix. 16, a high school sophomore, my American History professor spilled the beans on racist American slavery, Indigenous genocide, Federalist anti-democracy, the Robber Baron's Gilded Age, ruthless capitalist Empire and wall-to-wall inequality & war. Now 2020, nothing has changed except the obviousness of it all.
orestes gonzalez, Cuban /American (2018)
The American Dream died when I realized the advent of Social Media replaced real, unbiased journalism in shaping peoples views and the information they receive. This has deeply eroded our way of gathering real facts and making decisions in an unbiased manner. It has eroded our not-perfect democratic system opened the road to fascism.
Theodora Bliedung Beal, U.S. (1962)
A field trip to Puerto Rico for NY college students, I spent the week in Toa Alta, living with a warm family. Daily trips with a barrio organizer to meet communities solving problems together. At the end of the week, I rejoined students and our respected leaders at a 4-star San Juan hotel. The doorman bowed to us students to enter, barked at our leaders: "Food in the back for you." I saw my privilege, my class opportunities, my white skin is an American nightmare for the poor.
Jerry Allison, USA (2020)
As a poor white kid who got to go to college and get an MFA (despite being told "Art is for the Rich") I thought I was doing OK - despite all the racist classist imperialist stuff, I was surviving. One day I told a Trumpie, that taking toddler children away from their asylum seeking mothers and locking them in concrete cages was "Nazi stuff and should be prosecuted". He told me "You should stick a shotgun up your ass cause that's where your brains are". That day the American Dream died for me.
Diana Collins, American (2020)
I put myself through 4 years of the Army so I could put myself through 4 years of college. My service was 1979-82, so no GI Bill for me. My dream died when the best job I could get after college was as a secretary. I eventually got better jobs but got laid off several times. The best and longest job only lasted 6 years before I got laid off, and now I get contracting gigs.
Kate Hughes, American (2010)
The Dream died for me when I began to peer at its silent shadow: the landfills, the poverty, the racism, the profits over the people.
John A Fitzgerald, American (2020)
12/31/2007. Automation derailed my 15 year career on Wall St. I had a couple of strong interviews with a firm in Feb/Mar of '08. Lehman Bros. Went to work knocking on doors for Edward Jones in between Bear, Stearns and Lehman implosions. Zero clients in 6 months. Sat on the couch and looked for work for 2 1/2 years. Started driving a taxi 11/2011. Left after 5 years due to stress. Sold cars unsuccessfully for 3 years. Looking for work Again. Who's hiring 60 yr old college educated white males?
Julia Justo, Argentinian (2002)
The American dream died for me when I realized that after working 50 hours a week I was not able to save and invest in my future. Most of my salary was going to pay the cost of housing and I did not even have enough to cover medical expenses, sad situation specially taking in consideration I'm college educated.
Anton Germishuizen, American (2020)
I am an immigrants from a shithole country, South Africa. White, Ivy grad, executive in a large corp, a tax paying citizen since 1985. Dream died post 2016 election, with white, racist supremacists, lacking decency & morality in power. America is now more racist than South Africa. Do not let any American tell you what is morally right or wrong, they no longer have any moral authority. Cannot be trusted. Flag, a constitution and blind nationalism. The myth revealed, the emperor has no clothes.
Frank Purdy, American (2020)
I have almost made it to retirement, and if the current situation does not deteriorate further, my wife and I should be able to enjoy it, but I am worried for the survival of America and its dream. If the country cannot find a way to provide reasonable access to to affordable housing and quality education to all of its citizens, that dream cannot survive.
Tucker Karnes, American (2020)
Unfortunately, I killed it. My fellow Millennials and I did, anyway. We ate avocados, we bought iPhones, we bought Starbucks, and we somehow bought our way out of the American dream. It hasn't yet been explained to me how those purchases rendered the majority of my generation unable to become homeowners, buy vehicles, start businesses, and even start families, but I trust my elders when they tell me it's our fault. Why shouldn't I?
Bert Trantham, American (2020)
Mine has not died yet, it is only sick. If Trump is re-elected it will be completely dead.
Montserrat Vargas, Chilean (2011)
During my first weeks in the EEUU, another immigrant wanted to share the best advice he thought he could give me:
"Here, cats and dogs have more rights than us, even more papers, more documentation. Be careful. You work hard and give back but you are worth nothing."
I decided to hand embroider and painted a Social Security card made of recycled fabric and cardboard, to remember.
ED GARRIDO, Afro Dominican American (1988)
My mother was sworn in and we all become US citizens sometime in the early 2000's. I remember being upset that my mom was dragging me along, I felt like it was more her dream than it was mine. I kept wondering if it would now be cool for my friends and I to ride our bikes into the neighboring towns without being harassed by police, I mean we were all Americans now. But I didn't need to take the oath to know where I stood as a Young Black Latino American, I felt it everyday. No love lost though.
Liam Casteel, American (2020)
My American dream died when I became a teacher. I knew that I was entering a challenging and unappreciated profession, but I never realized how much. I teach social studies and have two masters degrees, while my husband and I live with my parents to save on costs. The American dream died as I realized that with all of the privilege I've had and work I've put in, there was no value in passing on my education to the next generation who desperately will need intellectual strength.
Jalalu-Kalvert Nelson, American (2020)
When Donald Trump was elected President. And when Black people were killed by the police, without ever paying a price for it. And it will remain dead as long as America fails to accept that there is Racism in American society, and as well as Trump remains President, but it's larger than him, this way of thinking. And this is the danger in America of the dream remaining dead.
Catherine Anderson, American (2020)
My American Dream died in 2009. I worked for a major, US corporation, as an IT Analyst/Developer. The company outsourced/offshored my entire department, seeing a Golden Opportunity in the depths of the Great Recession. Being older (40s) and female, I found it impossible to re-enter the job market when the economy finally began to awaken in 2011/2012. Eventually I stopped trying. I now live on the margins, a card-carrying member of The Precariat. I have no idea how I survive. Somehow I do.
Ines Bengoet, Spaniard (2020)
I was a math and science whiz kid as a child in Spain.----born in Spain right after the Civil War, I saw a last of desperation hunger, disease-My father was- well off, but I was affected by my surroundings. I married an American at 20. After 2 yr in the US- I realized despite being at the top of community college classes and later 4- yr college (honors rolls) good work record/ 99% hiring tests, I would have unsurmountable obstacles for a professional job.
Kevin Smith, United States (2016)
I think it is rather obvious but for political reasons I can not say any more. That is really how and why the Dream died. Because we are so divided we can no longer debate each other, nor respect each other's boundaries. It is a sad commentary on the state of affairs in our nation. We deal with all nations and at no time in my nearly 30 years here have I seen us so divided and ridiculed as it is now. We can not attain our dreams if we can not respect each other. It is time to heal.
Maria Lopez, Colombiana (2014)
We all have different American Dreams. Mine was undefined. Mine is still undefined because I don't see myself fit in anywhere. Immigrating to NJ from Colombia when I was 6, and growing up in the midst of so many cultures, constantly redefines the reason of my being and the development of this country--as two things so close but yet so distant.
Michael J. Toklish, Austrian (2020)
My American Dream ended when certain groups in our country turned what could have been peaceful protests into violent rioting mobs of vandals and looters.
Lydia Bezou-Hojnacki, American (2020)
My American Dream died when my children grew up and I realized the housing (for sale) had become too expensive for 20-somethings, and they would, for too long, be condemned to renting and lining another's pocket, that of the landlord. How did we let this happen? The median home price should be 200% of the median family income; rental units should cost 30% of the income of those in the lower quartile of wages in the region.
Mette Rasmussen, Danish (2020)
As an exchange student in Utah in 1980, when the hosting family father confirmed that he still thought black people was inferior though the church of the latter day saints had ackowledged a few years earlier that black people were not inferior to white people. I realized he was racist and that the hatred was institutionalized still and coming with him immigrated from North Carolina. Also that poor people would still be poor because everybody can not "be number one", as if... What about the rest?
Stephanie Garrison, United States of America (2014)
Working at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, I learned his successful American Dream story coming from a working-class, immigrant family, and I saw that those opportunities didn't exist anymore, not for me, not for anyone I knew, even though I grew up middle-class and got an education. We address the death of the American Dream in our interpretation of Andy's art and encourage visitors to consider why, and how it died, and what that means for our country.
catalina melo, Colombian, USA (2001)
the dream died upon arrival to graduate school, it was the first day and one of the higher ups made a joke about me being a drug trafficker during a meeting in front of my new classmates. after that, i could barely look at anyone in the eye. since then, it has been a long journey of facing shame, micro or macro aggressions, humiliation, jokes about cocaine, or being put down every time people find out where i come from. at the beginning i just hid, now, i have gathered courage and pride.
Agustina Perez, Mexican American (2018)
I am part of the First Generation, First Woman to graduate College, & first women in my family with a professional job. My success is my parents story. In 2018, while i was in Washington DC at a Latino Conference, ICE went into my home & took my mom. After years of my parents teaching us that America would love / respect us with a higher education... I realize no amount of degree will buy the honor / respect my undocumented family deserve The American Dream died the second they handcuffed mom.
Franklin Peña, Dominican (2016)
The first day I landed in Los Angeles. I realized the concept of inclusion and progression didn’t have me or my people in mind. I realized my community is expected to work for others but never expected to develop sustainability outside the realm of manual labor. It was the day my soul split in two. My disappointment and ambitions exist within each other in my pursuit of happiness. My American dream died but not my desire to be great.
Carla, American (2020)
My American Dream died when Barack Obama, the president I had just voted for, bailed out Wall Street and left Main Street twisting in the wind. Many of my relatives and I all live on some equivalent of Main Street in Rust Belt, USA.
Stephen Charles, American (2020)
My 'American Dream' died the day I realised that this country is one long con for everyone but the wealthy. I can't pinpoint an event or a day. The entire system is designed for and controlled by money concentrated in increasingly few hands. And I'm galled by the fact that we consider the attainment of a dignified life as a 'dream.' To call something a 'dream' is to imply that it's unattainable by definition. And if you don't 'dream big enough,' you probably didn't deserve it anyway.
Justin, USA (2016)
When I saw the wage breakout for my company. My boss made $400k while the average worker made $35k. The death, though, was the year he decided not to award raises or bonuses to anyone but himself. He took the entire $300k pool of money that should have been divided between the employees, and then told everyone the company was struggling.
MG, Irish/American (1984)
The naive movie American Dream died for me as soon as I went to college and realized that no amount of hard work can guarantee success when you make bad choices and waste huge amounts of money on degrees that offer poor careers. I grow up fast and realized the American Dream is what you make of it not what anyone gives you, I worked hard, saved hard, struggled to make good decisions, built a career on my state college Computer Science degree and after 27 years retired @55 w/ a modest 45k/yr
B Watson, USA (2019)
I never know how far down the path of necrosis the US had gotten until I moved out of the country for a few years. At this distance you can clearly see the lesions and sores all across the rolls of pallid flesh. I thought, like many others, that we had reached some sort of civic enlightenment after Obama was elected, but the cancer of hate and bigotry was just in temporary remission gathering its strength while the emperor donned his new clothes.
David Vermillion, American (2015)
A one-two punch. First, when I realized that my colleagues and I were "stuck," and wouldn't ever move up, because they didn't start out knowing the right people. But we had good jobs, so I still believed.
The final blow was when someone patiently explained how black people FEAR FOR THEIR LIVES when they're pulled over by the cops, and what that feels like. I knew as a white person, it was never something I had to think about. It died there and things are only worse since.
David Vognar, American (2020)
Well, truth be told, my American dream is still very much alive. It has been shaken many times and almost given up on too many times to count, but it's still there. I dream every night. And metaphorically, I think America is waking up from one dream while drifting into another, hopefully more restorative one. We know the historic injustices people have faced who are members of the many out-groups in this country. But I know I'm not alone in feeling a change is finally coming. The dream is real
Kevin Chan, USA (1982)
That version of the American Dream where immigrants expect to see gold-paved streets died the second I arrived in 1982 to my roach-infested, crime ridden apartment next to a crack house. But that was the death of a naive dream. The truer version may be ugly with its mix of unfair struggle and unimaginable sacrifice but it's NOT DEAD. I and millions of other immigrants have achieved it and are prospering because life in the US is INFINITELY better than some of places we fled.
Elisabeth Lemon, American (2020)
My dream died a slow death during my fruitless job search following my second Master's degree. As millennials, we are repeatedly urged by our elders to be public servants, but I have been unable to join even the bottom rung in local government, & now have 70k in student loans to show for it. As a single parent, I am unable to buy a home in which my children and I can live, and I am almost certain to be unable to help them pay for their own higher education when the time comes.
Helen Silk, American (2020)
My "American Dream"died on Nov 8th, 2016. Knowing that so many of my fellow countrymen voted for the disaster that I felt sure Trump was going to be, ended any real hope I had for this country. Even if we rid ourselves of him on Tuesday, it will take years to recover, if we ever do.
Rachel, Puerto Rican (1992)
The American dream was never meant for me. I realized really early on that no matter how hard I worked, how well I did in school or in my job, how nice or put together I was, I would always be "less than."
King Cormack, American (2020)
Moved to NY, an artist with dreams. Donned a tie to pay the rent, abandoned those dreams to a haphazard career that never seemed to pay my Manhattan freight. From show biz to corporate to academia, found greed and venality at every turn. Stayed savvy and competitive but never felt I could afford a wife or family. My debt grew, I went to CA, discovered 45 was old and I was bankrupt. Returned to my hometown, got a leg up but the '08 recession hit. Never really worked much again then mom got sick.
Charles Fogelman, American (2020)
Faith in the dream not dead, but mortally threatened.I'm a first generation American.My parents grew up poor but because of the gift of the spectacular public education NYC once gave her children became a doctor and a teacher.What success I have had in life follows from that.They overcame anti-Semitic quotas.I never experienced the fear anti-Semitism brings until my eighth decade, brought on on the right and left by Donald Trump.I fear I may have to fight for or flee from my beloved native land.
Rebecca Marie Thomas, American (2020)
When I went to the welcome party for my PhD cohort and the new professor starting in the program met me and said,"Oh, yes, I voted for you not to be admitted". Before I reached the dissertation phase, he was the program director. You can guess how that turned out (I did leave with a master's degree). I had wanted to be a professor since I was 10. Now I am the higher education equivalent of a customer service representative. No PhD, a middling job in a state U system, no raises. Yep, this is it.
Mariana Ramos-Ortiz, Puerto Rican (1931)
The American Dream was born dead in Puerto Rico. El Sueño Americano nació muerto en Puerto Rico. Year of Death: 1898
Robert I Zawistowski, American (2020)
In 2005 when the president of the company I was working for at the time said "What costs $1.00 to manufacture in the US we can manufacture in China and ship anywhere in the world for 38 cents." I was laid off less than a year latter...
Julius Reuter, American (2020)
General Electric's purchase of RCA (owner of the NBC network) in 1986 resulted in a labor dispute in 1987 that caused all of NBC's unionized technicians to "hire daily" employees, without health insurance, paid sick days or days off. paid vacations. This changed the television industry forever and made me realize that I was "alone" without the benefits of a stable job on which I could plan my future and even highly trained and skilled technicians were vulnerable to corporate greed at the hands. CEOs like Jack Welch, simply because they saw us as an "expense" of doing business. This forced me to reevaluate and changed the path of my life.
Anjelic E Owens, Black & Latina (2017)
Growing up in a low-income household I took pride in stretching a dollar. I grew used to thrifted clothes (before they were cool) and discount grocery stores. My parents put so much weight on my education as if my grades could save me from the systemic racism I would face. My awareness of my class was heightened once I moved to New York for grad school. I got caught in the never ending cycle of working to afford my materials to make my art while not having the time to make my art because of work.
Y. E. Kim, Korean American (2020)
My "American dream" died when I realized other individuals with similar backgrounds and effort did not achieve the positive outcomes as I did. Consequently, the "American dream, "a belief that hardwork and dedication will lead to prosperity," was a fallacy, as systemic inequities including racism and lack of intergenerational wealth, rather than one's effort, greatly determined whether or not an individual improved their life outcomes.
Nontsikelelo Mutiti, Zimbabwe (2009)
Pronounced dead on arrival.
Levi Cruz, Salvadorian (2020)
My name is Levi Cruz, I’m 26 years old. Now I’m in an ICE facility far away from my family. I don’t know when I’ll be release or if I get deported. All I’m doing now is sitting thinking what is going to happen with my case and the American dream that I once dream off. I don’t feel it is right for ICE to have people detained. With the Covid-19 going on they should let us be with our family. I just need that one chance to prove that I deserve to be free and live the American dream with my family.
Heriberto Paredes Coronel, Mexican (2019)
The U.S.-Mexico border has been a hotbed of violence for many years. In 2019 I was doing interviews and taking some pictures with people who flee the violence in my country, they arrive at the border with the United States thinking that they will find a humanitarian treatment, refuge, security. But what they find is rejection, racism, more violence and inhumane treatment. They arrive looking for the American Dream and what they will find is the American Nightmare. I am a Mexican journalist.
DeVee Moser, American (2020)
I expected to work hard, save money vigorously throughout my adulthood and build a modest middle-class life for myself. I worked hard and saved but I was plagued by unemployment (many rounds of layoffs, each followed by several months of job hunting) which shattered any notion I had of achieving a stable, long-term job--much less stable finances, healthcare, or mental health. Executives shouldn't pocket tens of millions of dollars when they lay off their workforce. This doesn't serve the public.
oumy diaw, Senegalese-American (2008)
It died when I realized too late that the kind of hostilities I experienced in my professional environment was because of my skin color and gender. I wasn't born or raised in USA. So American racism was unknown to me. There are codes, American racism has specific codes and culture. From discrimination, to humiliations, stereotyping in emails, blackmail using your immigration status to "tame you". It is fellow Americans that opened my eyes. In 2016, Donald Trump killed the American Dream again...
Katherine Kelly, American (2020)
I’m 62, female. My American dream started dying in the Great Recession of 2008-2010. I lost my good job at IBM while I was going through an expensive, vicious divorce. I had no income and had to cash out a big part of my 401k to live paying penalties. I was unemployed for almost a year. Now I lost my job in 2019 when my entire department was laid off. I’ve tried aggressively to get a job since then. No one seems very interested in hiring me I think due to my age. I can’t afford to retire.
Jessica Kurak, American (2020)
When I had to leave this country to earn a living wage after graduating college. I was always told that education was the key to success, and that other people came to America to better their lives. I had to leave, and when I came back my standard of living went down. I lived overseas in a 2000 square foot house in a nice neighborhood and carried no debt, not even a mortgage. I now live in America in a townhouse in a low income neighborhood with car loans and credit card debt.
Judith Moran, American and Irish (2020)
My American dream died when I realized that we are in a climate crisis and our excesses are contributing to this crisis. I remember thinking that we Americans can't go on consuming so extravagantly when I saw An Inconvenient Truth in 2006. But the death of my American dream began when I became an adult in the early 1990s and realized how much we collectively waste, how much trash we generate, and how many toxins we have in our environment due to activities like spraying lawns and using plastic.
Elizabeth Spavento, American (2019)
The American Dream died when I realized that it was always only a dream for some Americans. Specifically white Americans, like myself. I knew this truth internally, but I chose to ignore it. I was anaesthetized to its insidiousness, silent and unmoved like a coma patient: alive but not living, propped up by elaborate systems of private and public interests that ensured my life remained vital, comfortable. I’m not sure if the American Dream is dead or just on life support but I can hear its death
Nevena Dzamonja, Bosnian (2008)
I was raised by a Communist single-mother who never made over 40k, and I grew up a Punk, so I was always very aware of class and inequality. When I got to college I realized I was always going to be stuck behind people who never had to work restaurant and service jobs, who never had to pay their own bills or loans, who could endlessly intern for no pay, whose parents paid for their studios and equipment, and that I would always have to hustle twice as hard just to be at the table.
Ana Rendich, Argentinian-America (2007)
The horrible opinions about the Spanish Language : the conclusions based in prejudice, without reasoning and understanding of the richness and immense importance of all the contributions that writers, poets, essayist, academics... brought to the world. The underestimation and ignorance about who we are. That was my first realization of the social thinking and moral flaws in this country, how Latinos were perceived. It was not only about the Spanish Language, but all what this issue has implied.
Dimitri Winchester, White (2014)
Right around the time I learned I was queer and understanding that no matter what I did or what I had I would not and did not want to fit into the “american model” it took me an even longer time to truly see how many ways that the American dream would never become a reality to those who were not born with hundreds of thousands of dollars. The sooner we all realize that there is not one single American dream and that everyone can have their own.
Luis A. Vázquez O’Neill, Puerto Rican / Cuban (2017)
It is October 4th, 14 days have passed since María made landfall and 1 day since president Trump threw paper towels at a crowd. We are working endless hours to get the help from our one side of the island to the other. I was asked to join some reporters to cover the story of bodies piling up in the morgue. Later that night they mami handed the news, papi was found dead in his bathroom, he was there for days and my sister was the first to smell his discomposed body from outside his house. Miss U.
Rebecca Miralrio, Mexican American (2005)
Sometime around the age of 5 when I became aware of the fact that my family was considered "illegal". My childhood consisted of me fearing "la migra" and having terrible anxiety over the fact that I could someday be separated from my parents and siblings.
Francie Scanlon, American Irish (1955)
March 12, 1955, in the luxury suite of a Countess holding court in the Fifth Avenue Stanhope Hotel, CHARLIE PARKER exited this plane. His body was so ravaged by racism, ruthless rules stacked against him and repulsion at the 1950s American landscape, this phenomenal 20th century Artist was viewed by the attending physician as being at least in his late 50s when he was 34! Born 29 August, 1920, his entire Life span should have been a BIRD SUITE for his second Pandemic @ 100. Myths die hard.
Perla de Leon, Puerto Rican-Cuban-American (1964)
I attended Catholic schools where nuns humiliated students whose parents contributed small change during Sunday mass because they were poor. That police and people in privileged positions were racist and classist was a daily experience but when nuns were brutally condescending, shamed you in public and told you that you would never succeed, it was both startling and a gift, as it taught us, early in life, that the American Dream was reserved for very few people.
Christian Martir, Puerto Rican (1979)
The day I was born, in an American colony.
Maya, American (2013)
In 2013 while in school for my undergrad degree. I realized how elitist people in higher education are. My parents are both immigrants but with multiple degrees. People would assume because I am first generation my parents are janitors or own a store or something. I worked my ass off working 2 jobs and going to school just so that people could continue to project those beliefs on me. When I worked an office job people didn’t even think I worked in the office, assumed I was a cleaner or caterer.
Darice Polo, American, Puerto Rican (1959)
The fact that Puerto Rico is not listed under nationality for this project, especially one funded by El Museo, in an ironic way exemplifies the tragic illusion of the American Dream for Puerto Ricans and the Puerto Rican diaspora.
Ayasha, American (2019)
The American dream died when scarcity politics replaced hope in the power of collective demands. So many people *couldn’t afford* to protest the conditions that produced their own precarity. I left when it seemed the nation was numb to this crisis and revolution was a lost cause. But now I see new dreams growing in the U.S. -People realizing that a seat at the table where “you can’t sit with us” won’t protect them after all, and that true power is with the people who gather to build their own.
Ruth Appleby, Anglo heritage (2020)
I lost faith in American exceptionalism when I learned some history--that a slave class undergirded the founders' beliefs. Equality and opportunity were for a dominant class and lower-class whites were snookered into supporting it.The Civil War and the Civil rights movement helped to make our Constitution more perfect. But now I also know that capitalism damages education, health care, prisons, politics, and even our food supply. Can our democracy work? Can we unite and fight global warming?
Chat Travieso, Cuban-Venezuelan-American (2020)
The American Dream, who had been missing for the past three months after prosecutors opened a fraud investigation into their business, was found dead today of an overdose in their home. Investigators have uncovered a trove of incriminating evidence placing the American Dream at the center of a massive Ponzi Scheme that defrauded countless over centuries. In November 2016, the American Dream’s sibling, American Exceptionalism, committed suicide after they were found guilty of criminal conspiracy.
Judy E., American (German/Irish) (2020)
My American Dream died the day I read that real wages hadn't gone up in almost 40 years. Until then, I blamed myself for not achieving as much as my parents. That day I realized this was structural, and that I wouldn't beat it no matter how hard I worked.
June Canedo, Brazilian, American (1989)
When I visited Brazil for the first time as an adult alone because I was the only one in my family with U.S. citizenship. I walked into a large room full of crying strangers who I'd known as a child. I spent hours hugging and kissing all of them on behalf of the rest of our family who remain undocumented in the U.S.
Zahira Shaalan, American (1984)
The American Dream died for me the day I entered kindergarten. Before that, I was an incredibly bright child, self-assured and besotted with learning. In this environment, I learned how inequality is transmitted from one generation to the next. I was “taught” that my existence was problematic. I was labeled as unintelligent, inferior, less, terms all interchangeable with black, brown and female. I emerged with some aspect of myself intact, albeit cast into a woke state of American dreamlessness.
daisy vazquez, American (2015)
The dream died for me when I thought I was making enough to finally get my family out of NYC public housing. But I couldn't afford to buy what we needed. I called the management of a building labeled as affordable housing in NYC and they told me I didn't make enough. Even the rent for the housing lotteries could be argued as affordable, and the one time I finally got a response I was told I could only afford a 2br, which is what I already live in. I gave up believing I could own a home.
Laura Blanco, American (2020)
My American Dream is currently on life support. It will hopefully be resuscitated in November.
Mitchell Banks, American (1959)
I was on a family trip to Albany, N.Y. and was really struck by the level of poverty I was seeing. I asked my mother why, and she said that was how black people lived. I felt she couldn't be right since the maintenance man at the hotel (who was black) was really nice and took time to talk to me. I thought he would want to live the same way I did-in a house, with a yard-in a place I felt safe.
Adrian Christopher Lawrence, African-American (2020)
12 years of primary school. 4 years of college. 4 years of medical school. 3 years of training in internal medicine. 3 years of sub-specialty training. Another year of sub-sub-specialty training. The pride of Do No Harm withered in seconds by the advice spoken in complete earnest by my transplant program leader, "if it doesn't kill the patient, let it go". I left and am still searching. As hope still springs eternal, my dream has not died but feels more like it is letting out it's final raspy wheeze.
Srinivas Sridhar, American (2020)
MY AMERICAN DREAM IS NOT DEAD! I came to America to do cutting edge scientific research. I continue to have a very successful career as an academic, educator, scientist, and entrepreneur. I have a great family and am financially secure. I achieved those parts of my American dream. I still dream of a future for America and the world that is truly multi-racial, color blind and tolerant of the less fortunate. I know that achieving will require battling those that oppose my ideals.
Leslie A Martin, American (2020)
I submitted a letter, using a metaphor of hope, i.e., "a candle in a window". My dream of being able to "pull my self up by my own bootstraps" has been shattered. Student Debt has ensnared me, shattered my dreams, destroyed my hopes for a better future that I foolishly believed an education would provide. The world -still- is filled with beauty, my life is still valuable and fraught with meaning. Some lessons are just very difficult.
Scott R, American (2020)
My American dreams dies for each job rejection I receive. It dies when I see people similar to me -- young, smart, educated, well spoken -- confined to lives of subsistence, inevitably in some version of the gig economy. It dies when I see mediocre former co-workers navigating up career ladders onto which I cannot take hold. It dies when I realize that George Costanza's indelible line, now a quarter century old, about being unemployed and living with his parents, so aptly describes my life.
Petra Darrow, Mexican (2020)
A farm girl raised in Kansas, I moved across the country alone to receive my Bachelors Degree in Drama. Then I moved to Los Angeles and received my Masters Degree in Acting. I hitchhiked my way through undergrad education in Marin County. I took every office temp, bar tending and low income job to support myself through auditions. I realized I had to let go of the dream of being a working actor at 39. After a breakdown, I found myself defeated at 42. Only God's will counts for each human.
Catherine Shapleigh, American (2020)
Mine died more than 20 years ago, on the Blue Train from Jo'burg to Cape Town, SA. Being Americans, we were seated with another American couple; the man spent the evening describing his brilliance in investing in a 'Pay Day' loan company, where the outrageous interest rates are guaranteed by the borrowers next pay check. It was then that I realized that America had not merely come to worship Mammon; we now brag about it. May God forgive us.
Lizania Cruz, Dominican (2020)
For me, the American Dream had terminal cancer but died of Covid-19 complications. It was through the pandemic that I realized the failure of our current value on work and individualism. I knew the system wasn’t created for a person like me but, somehow, I believed the idea that through my hard work and my exceptionalism I could make it through. As I was forced to pause, I could see clearly that I was wrong.
Rebecca Johnson, American (2020)
I grew up believing in American exceptionalism. In grade school I thought I lived in the greatest country in the world. My faith began to crumble the day we invaded in Iraq in 2003, and turned completely to dust the evening of November 8, 2016. We aren't a diverse nation of strivers trying to achieve bigger and better things. We are a divided mess of small-minded, petty and selfish groups who can see nothing but their own wants. I feel as though I now live in the American nightmare.
Jeff McLarty, American citizen of Scottish descent (2020)
My American Dream died when I realized over time that, even though I was making the right moves- entrepreneur, small business owner, college grad, etc.- the system, as built, prevents any real progress. We can debate the unique components of the system; parts that work "for" vs those that work "against" equal opportunity for advancement, but the cumulative effect is a strengthening of class divides. And those divides are, to invoke a metaphor, legion.
Alex Corbett, American (2020)
I'm a LGBT primary care physician; I was living the American Dream. But medicine in America has turned into a series of losing battles against corporate bureaucracy, trying to get life-saving care for patients who increasingly lack stable access to food, housing, and work. Obama offered hope for improvement, and safety for queer families. Trump destroyed all that. I took my family and my dream to New Zealand. We're safe here, and I'm able to do some good. And we can still vote.