Response 4

Woroud Shuaib
Professor Steven Alvarez
English 255
29 April 2012

Latinos and the American Dream: Sacrifice and Redefining the American Dream in Michael Steel’s “The Kind of Immigration Reform Americans Want” and Michael Schudson’s “American Dreams”.

Throughout many of the stories we have read in our anthology this semester, a common theme usually mentioned in our text includes this idea of the American Dream. Evidently through our readings the American Dream has been otter inaccessible to Latino immigrants primarily because of the demeaning jobs they encounter. These demeaning jobs may include working long hours, facing discrimination, and or hard labor. They have been forced into an unfamiliar environment in which the established system goes against them. Michael Steel’s article titled “The Kind of Immigration Reform Americans Want” exemplifies this idea that Latinos struggle to strive for this dream. He states:

Like so many immigrants, Hispanic-Americans and Latinos have endured danger and hardship and sacrifice, many risking it all for a chance at the American dream. All of us are here today because we want to help unleash that dream.

Steel adds that trying to accomplish this dream has included tolerating danger and sacrificing many things. We see this many times, from Gonzales’s text titled “The Day We became People again” where the narrator leaves his life in Puerto Rico to live this American Dream. Steel uses the term “sacrifice” to show that Latinos leave their families or social status in their country to move here in order to make money and become successful. Constantly, Latino immigrants risk all they have and work long shifts to live this “American Dream”. In addition, he says that they have “endured danger”, which implies that Latinos may encounter danger because they don’t speak the language so they become a target by being picked on. He adds that “all of us are here today because we want to unleash this dream”, which just exemplifies his point. Because most of us including immigrants of all ethnicities and Americans strive for the same things it makes it hard for people like the Latino immigrants to accomplish it. Since the language varies and so forth, the Latinos have to try even harder to be on top and we clearly have been seeing this throughout the texts.

Immigrants Latinos specifically, struggle to achieve this American Dream. They often sacrifice, and work their hardest for this dream that seems almost impossible to achieve which than leads to one to question the American Dream and whether it’s over-rated and exaggerated. But before we ask ourselves these questions what exactly does the American Dream mean? Perhaps people have many thoughts about this dream but wht exactly does it consist of? Michael Schudson’s article titled “American Dreams” describes this dream through his perspective. He points out that:

All people are free to pursue the dream, regardless of background, with a ‘reasonable anticipation though not the promise, of success’ through actions under their own control—and doing so is worthy of deep commitment because “true success is associated with virtue’ (Hochschild 18). The American dream is ‘the great national suggestion’ (171) that anyone, with hard work according to the rules, has a reasonable prospect of succeeding in life.

According to Schudson, he states that “all people are free’ to accomplish this dream no matter where they come from. That with hard work and dedication it may be attainable. In addition, he adds that in order for one to reach success they must have “virtue” which includes having a good trait or good intentions. As Schudson points out, the socially constructed American Dream results from a “great national suggestion”. In other words, Schudson illustrates that as a nation, we have made up the definition and with “hard work” it will result in success. Essentially, Schudson says “regardless of the background” anyone can achieve this dream. Here, one sees the reason as to why Latino immigrants come to another country for this dream. They believe that everybody no matter where one comes from can reach success and can accomplish this dream. They may hear stories of immigrants succeeding or actually seen others succeed and therefore believe that they can become successful just like them. However, Latino immigrants do not think of the demeaning jobs and situations they will encounter once they get here; the dehumanization they face and the things they sacrifice. But it seems like the Latino immigrants face more disadvantages than benefits and so the American Dream may just be an illusion or never attainable.

Works Cited
Steele, Michael. “The Kind Of Immigration Reform Americans Want.” Vital Speeches Of The Day 76.7 (2010): 303-305. Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 May 2012.

Schudson, Michael. “American Dreams.” American Literary History 16.3 (2004): 566-573. Project MUSE. Web. 2 May. 2012. < http://muse.jhu.edu/>

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