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Historical Societal Myths: American Dream - Research Paper Example

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Historical Societal Myths: The Land of Equal Opportunity Introduction All cultures have popular cultural myths, and America is no different. There are many American myths circulated by those within and outside of the United States, none more so than the thought that America is the land of equal opportunities for all…
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Historical Societal Myths: American Dream
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Download file to see previous pages The purpose of this paper is to explore the myth of American equal opportunities by examining the evolution of this myth through time, discussing the use and purpose of cultural iconography and artefacts in perpetuating the myth, and how stereotypes have arisen from the myth itself. By doing this, it will become clear how the representation of America as a land of equal opportunity and socioeconomic equality can be classified as a myth and how modern influences on the myth are furthering the evolution of the myth. The Origins of the Myth It has been said that “Equality is as American as baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie” (Crandall & Martinez, 1996), but this does not hold true. African Americans are 77% of the NBA, but only 4% of the healthcare profession (Kaplan et al, 1996). Women are still widely unrepresented in the workforce (Aldrich et al, 1989). However, this myth is still perpetuated throughout America and those who wish to live in the United States. The origin of the thought comes from Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence (Bonilla-Silva, 2006), when all men were deemed to be created equal. Since then, there have been many amendments to the American constitution, including the abolition of slavery (Kaplan et al, 1996) that have assisted this concept, but still equality does not pervade American culture. Over the 20th century, there were many mass immigrations into the United States (Bonilla-Silva, 2006) and many of the immigrants came seeking equality that was not found in their own culture. It may be true that equality in the United States is still superior to those found in many cultures, but there is still not an overwhelming sense of socioeconomic equality between genders, races and ages (Crandall & Martinez, 1996). It is unclear as to why this myth was propagated. Most scholars seem to believe that it has arisen from the very founding of the United States, when the American War of Independence was fought to provide the citizens with equality not found in the countries from which they were originally from (Crandall & Martinez, 1996). Christianity in the United States, for example, has many different representations in different churches, many of which were founded at this early stage in American history. Some of these were founded because of the religious persecution in Europe (Brass et al, 1998), and there was a widespread tolerance of other Churches even at this early stage, usually out of necessity. For outsiders, America seemed to be a land of hope, where they could escape the persecution found at home, which is why America is such a melting-pot of racial diversity and culture, but many of these people still experience discrimination. A motivation for this myth that has been suggested is that the Founding Fathers of the United States desired for an expansion in population to help the economy (Kaplan et al, 1996), and one way to achieve this quickly was to spread the word of a tolerant and equal nation in which all would be welcome. From the 1920s Onwards The starting point that this paper is going to take with regards to American inequality starts in the early parts of the 20th century. In 1920, American women were finally given the right to vote (Aldrich et al, 1989), with African Americans and poor white males being given the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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