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Racial Inequality in Education: Don't Give Up on Your Dream

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In 1619, 20 to 30 enslaved Africans were bought by the Jamestown colonists from English pirates, commencing the American Slavery. Slavery is the foundation of what America is today, of what the American Dream is about. American Dream pertains to the idea that everyone in America has the freedom to acquire equal opportunity in achieving the highest aspirations and goals in life. However, up until now, though slavery is not necessarily this generation’s case anymore, it is evident, even unspoken, that Americans are yet to reach that Dream: be free and equal. The shackles people have are not made out of steel but more like intangible- tangible things and reasons, making American Dream more difficult to attain; then and today, people do not just break chains but solve real primary issues to realize the Dream.

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Since the beginning of US history, freedom, followed by equal opportunities, has been a desire of people of color, even of white women, and also of other religious beliefs. People of color, enslaved and traded, were classified as the lowest of the laboring-class people which is already at the base of the social ladder made by the “superior” white men, coining the concept of a hierarchical society that restricted, more strongly, these people of color’s abilities and rights to gain power with their voices and be heard in the US. Additionally, though white people have the most privilege among all people in the US, white women were practically, almost, no one in history. Dependent on their husbands, white women did not have many significant roles except being nobles and respected as whites. They were considered ineligible to vote nor be elected to power for instance. In 1763’s voting requirements, the male was the only qualified gender to participate in the election. White men held government positions and legislatures, meanwhile women, once married, could not even own property or collect wages and in cases of divorce, women were deprived of the custody of their children. US history is known for white men’s abundant and absolute power over everything.

Regardless of these limitations and restrictions on individuals, except for Christian wealthy white men, religion played a big part in attaining the first steps toward American Dream. In the chapter Colonial Society of the American YAWP, the Great Awakening, which was supposed to revive religion in the 13 colonies however had gone wrong and got divided into “Old” and “New Lights”, by 1760s, “...provided a language of individualism, reinforced in print culture, which reappeared in the call for independence.” Breaking away from Great Britain, the colonies’ call for independence, later in 1776, is finally legally issued and adopted, known as the Declaration of Independence. It was then that Americans called themselves free men.

The United States of America was freed. Religions earned freedom and a variety of beliefs are all over the map, evangelizing people to know and seek the Almighty God, the creator of the whole universe. Speaking of the universe, in the year the 1950s, women started to compete with each other in pageantry to determine who to crown as the Miss Universe, which purpose is to encourage and empower women of all cultures-- of all forms of “confidently beautiful” --to build self-confidence and create opportunities for future success. Moreover, in politics, Jeannette Pickering Rankin was the first woman to hold federal office in the country; women and people of color gained the right to participate in governing the country. Also, presently, no individual has no right at all: Child Protection Act, women’s rights, civil as well as labor rights, and religious rights. As Andrew Hamilton once claimed in the John Peter Zenger Trial, “it is a right, which all free men claim.” The colonial societies’ pursuit of political, religious, and individual freedom was a success, resulting in the US being freer today. However, freedom does not necessarily constitute equality. The first steps to realizing the American Dream are already achieved. Therefore the next steps, through thorough search and analysis, would be about curing [the misconception of] “inequality”[according to David Brooks’ The Inequality Problem from the New York Times, “If we’re going to mobilize a policy of revolution, we should focus on the real concrete issues… not be focusing on a secondary issue and a statistical byproduct”], which Americans believe to be the one thing that still hinders the attainment of the Dream.

Almost 250 years have passed since Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, wrote that “all men are created equal”. Nevertheless, inequality is still a huge issue among everyone in the country, especially among people of color who were greatly affected by slavery in the past centuries. Today, still, white people hold the highest progress in life, which, many believe, is due to the phrase “white privilege”. White privilege grants white people special intangible conditions that, sometimes unconsciously, overpower and dominate other races. When white people move to another place, the new neighborhood is expected to be nice to them. There will be no nasty looks in the eyes. They could sweep through life without being unfairly stereotyped. Whereas, Chris Rock, a black millionaire stand-up comedian who lives in Alpine, New Jersey with white people in his whole neighborhood, said that the black men must fly to get something that the white men could easily walk to. Chris Rock also described the discrepancy between a white dentist who lives next door and a black dentist who aspires to live in their neighborhood, saying that the black guy would have to invent teeth first before he could live there; the same profession but with unequal opportunity in the community. In addition, many believe that wealth is unfairly distributed between the Whites and other groups, restricting other Americans to live their Dreams. According to the data, Pew Research Center has gathered in 2016, white men out-earn black and Hispanic men and all groups of women by about 30% up to 50% despite the progress in wage increases between 1980 to 2015. Most people see these numbers as some evidence of inequality between races in terms of wealth distribution.

But, what if people’s concept of inequality, for example, racial inequality in education, might just be a misconception of the word all along? Because if such a concept of inequality is true, how did Asian people beat the Whites in progressing drastically over the past years? David Brooks claimed that “to frame the issue income inequality is to lump together different issues that are not especially related” like race being not related to wealth, and that “we should focus on the real concrete issues”, which include education. In 2017, American Council on Education conducted research on adults-- ages 25 and older --educational attainment by race and ethnicity. More than 60% of Asian people here in America have an Associate degree up to a Doctoral degree, and about 50% of white people attained an Associate degree up to a Doctoral degree. Meanwhile, for the black and Hispanic people, only about 35% and 25%, respectively, achieved such educational degrees. Education was and is still a key to rising from anything, from inequality for instance. Furthermore, schools are more diversified than ever so there is no reason for a person not to go. No money for tuition? The government provides programs that help anyone who wants to pursue an education. No pocket money? Part-time jobs are all over the place. There are no excuses for a person who is determined in achieving his/her Dream. Besides, American Dream is for everyone in America.

In conclusion. People should realize by now how to achieve this second step in realizing the American Dream completely: to solve the problem of inequality is not about blaming somebody else for someone’s situation, instead, people should address more tangible issues and concrete: reducing drop-out rates, stricter enforcement of anti-discrimination policies at any occasion in the country, and giving fair opportunity to anyone capable of performing a job, without racial inequality in education and another their forms. Furthermore, America became known to be the most advanced place on earth because it was freed and is now diversified. Brains, talents, and skills from all over the planet have gathered here in America, working together in reaching one ultimate goal: prosperity for everyone, which is also the American Dream’s ultimatum. Also, even though Thomas Jefferson was an enslaver himself, the Declaration of Independence is “a rebuke and a stumbling-block to tyranny and oppression”, describes Abraham Lincoln. And, by which thereof, though not legally binding, the Declaration of Independence continues to inspire and motivate people around the globe to fight for freedom and equality, to fight for the American Dream. So, keep it up Americans!

 

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