By Ryan Velez
The American Dream is a fluid concept, but Black Enterprise reports that one thing is certain: Black people feel it is out of reach. Only 17% of Blacks believe they have already achieved the American dream, compared with 32% of Hispanics, 36% of people overall, and 41% of whites. In addition, 19% of Blacks feel it is out of their reach, according to a survey by Pew Research Center. That’s more than the 17% of Hispanics and 15% of whites who feel the same. Overall, that number is 17%. The good news is that 62% of Black people feel they are on their way.
In general, people of all races honed in on three main components to the American Dream:
• Freedom of choice in how to live
• Have a good family life
• Retire comfortably
Other highly ranked factors included being able to make valuable contributions to the community, as well as owning a home and having a successful career as must-haves. Interestingly, only 11% mentioned becoming wealthy as a factor. But with a wealth gap growing, good luck doing any of these without a solid financial base.
Politics naturally is seeping into everything these days, but the survey also shows some interesting correlations between political affiliations and perceptions of one’s own success. More than half, or 53%, of core conservatives feel their family has achieved the American dream. Just 8% feel it’s out of reach. That’s compared with 42% of solid liberals who already feel they’ve made it and 15% who feel it’s out of reach. However, not all groups are seeing this level of success.
These groups include what Pew labels as “Disaffected Democrats” and “Devout and Diverse.” Both groups are majority-minority, with people of color making up 59% of Disaffected Dems, and 56% of Devout and Diverse Dems—the most religious of the Democratic groups. Unsurprisingly, Both groups are financially stressed, which may be why 24% of Disaffected Dems and 21% of Devout and Diverse Dems feel the American dream is out of reach.
Economic stress has been one of the major themes of this political season, and the upcoming Republican tax bill seems positioned to strike at these disaffected groups the most. However, a large portion of the Republican base is also financially struggling, even if it isn’t reflected in their perception of things. Depending on how these things play out, it will be interesting to see how another survey on the subject would look in 10 years’ time.