The American Dream - The Ultimate Facade

This week I had an off-site meeting at our nearby arboretum. During one of the presentations, the facilitator expressed how "nice it feels to be here" - presumably they were referring to "beauty" of the plant life surrounding the room we were in. I couldn't help but utterly disagree with the facilitator, this place did not feel nice - it felt like a grand facade. A facade working to eliminate and erase the Native plants that once lived there. In the place of the Native plants that lived there - now lived plants foreign to the land. In order for these new plants to prosper on this foreign land, a great care of focus on their needs was required for their survival. This reminded me all too well of the birth of America. A place founded on institutionalized systems of domination used to socialize "Americans" to accept one's place in the colonial hierarchy. A hierarchy focusing on the needs and survival of upper class white America. Just like the Arboretum took to caring for the needs of these new plants, America took to caring for the needs of upper class white America, under the guise of the "American Dream," the ultimate facade.

The rhetoric of the "American Dream" offers the idea that upward mobility is both possible and limitless, which Bush and Bush (2015) in their Tensions in the American Dream: Rhetoric, Reverie, or Reality argued “provided just the rationale to garner loyalty to ideological rules and principles of capitalism and white supremacy. This justification implied that those who succeed are worthy, while those who do not succeed are not worthy or deserving” (p.95). Just like the plants at the Arboretum, these new foreign plants became much more worthy and deserving to inhabit this landscape, because they "made it" - they worked hard to achieve this new found  livelihood. Never mind the care and focus the Arboretum gave to these plants survival, never mind the Arboretum's institutionalized support of these new plants. Now years after planting and caring for these seeds from all areas of the earth, this place know becomes a "melting pot" of a variety of plant life.  But who decided which of those plants belonged and which of them didn't? 

The "American Dream" has convinced us that to belong is to affirm one's status in the United States as "making it," particularly making it in under the ideological rules and principles of capitalism and white supremacy.  Instead of our statuses being associated to our familial lineages or geographic location, it is consumed with "what we do" and most often times than not but not always "what we do to make money." In this context, we have convinced ourselves that "what we do" is "who we are" - and that "what we do" is indicative of our worth. Never mind the institutionalized  systems that support the ideological rules and principles of capitalism and white supremacy. Never mind the care and focus these systems gave to upholding these rules and principles. 

The "American Dream" is nothing but a facade used to socialize "Americans" to accept our places in the colonial hierarchy. If we are wanting to liberate ourselves from the years of oppression and violence, we must look inward and "free ourselves of the myth of America" starting with the "American Dream."

The time has come, God knows, for us to examine ourselves, but we can only do this if we are willing to free ourselves of the myth of America and try to find out what is really happening here. Every society is really governed by hidden laws, by unspoken but profound assumptions on the part of the people, and ours (America) is no exception.

James Baldwin - Nobody Knows My Name  (p.142)