Facade of the American Dream Essay
Excerpt from Essay :
The Façade of the American Dream is the main theme of Ta-Nahesi Coates Between The World And Me, as is made clear through the struggles the main character faces in the book
For all Papers 1 and 3 in the course, you will need to include and engage with 2-3 additional sources that you locate on your own through critical news media (not blogs), as these are more cultural studies papers,. But be sure that you're using the primary text as your main focus, and the cultural/social issues and sources to back up your thesis about the primary text! This is a literature course, after all.
Choose one (or more, but ideally one) of the primary texts we’ve read thus far—due to this, I imagine most papers will be on Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me. You will need to include and engage with 2-3 additional sources that you locate on your own through critical news media (not blogs), as this is a more cultural studies sort of paper, using the primary text(s) to discuss current social issues in America. Be sure that you're using the primary text as your main focus, and the cultural/social issues and sources to back up your thesis about the primary text! This is a literature course, after all. Paper 1 should be approximately 3-4 pages, and use correct grammar, mechanics, quoting/citing, etc.
Please use Ta-Nehisi Coates Between The World & Me as the text for the paper. The thesis I chose is in the topic or title however feel free to change it if you can argue another point better.
What is the American Dream? Peace, prosperity, possession of property, freedom from want, from fear. Who has possessed it? The reality, as Ta-Nahesi Coates points out in his book Between the World and Me, is that the Dream is possessed by very few people—by, in fact, the elite class that runs America and that is responsible for developing and maintaining its systems and structures. The problem with addressing this reality is that all too often people attack the system and the structure as though it developed all by itself. Far less often do people actually name the names of the people responsible for its erection—people like Margaret Sanger, the original American eugenicist, who sought the destruction of the black population through the use of birth control (Franks). Sanger stated as much in her own papers that the purpose of her mission was the sterilization of the black population. Sanger was of that elite class of American citizens who attacked ethnic groups behind a façade of good intentions. Birth control, everyone was told, would allow people to be sexually liberated, to be free from the consequences of sex. Some of the consequences of sex are family, fatherhood, motherhood, responsibility, duty, community. The idea that the consequences of sex are something to be avoided should be met with hostility by any morally right-thinking individual (Jones). Unfortunately, these realities
are passed over, even by Ta-Nehisi in his book. There is never a mention of Sanger, the birth control movement, or even sexual liberation. Instead, all that comes across is anger and frustration directed towards the system and structures. But this is insufficient for any serious discussion about the problems that America faces. All it does is simply play upon the emotions without directing the head towards the real people and the real groups responsible for perpetrating atrocities. This is no way to break through the façade of the American Dream.
Coates situates his anger within emotional, visceral, sensational terms. He states, for instance, that “to be black in the Baltimore of my youth was to be naked before the elements of the world, before all the guns, fists, knives, crack, rape, and disease” (17). The elements of the world are ugly and violent—there is nothing else described. Why such a cruel and visceral rendering? Did Coates grow up in a drug den? …
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…my own especial Dream but would break all the dreams, all the comforting myths of Africa, of America, and everywhere and would leave me only with humanity in all its terribleness” (Coates 52). Yet, even he is prone to describe humanity and the world in these same terrible terms that he seems to be condemning. He will use them when it fits his purpose of rousing the reader’s emotions and condemn them when it fits his purpose of rousing the reader’s sympathy and attempting to get the reader to pity his poor Dream. Martin Luther King could have a Dream—but look what happened to him: shot dead by an assassin, most likely a patsy—after all, the FBI was eager to see King dead. Nonetheless, the emphasis on the Dream of Coates is important because what he wants to make clear to his son in the book is that black people should be allowed to pursue their dreams as well.
The problem I take with the book is that pursuit of the dream—for anyone—is part of the way in which the ruling classes control those without power. By convincing everyone to dream and chase after some vision in one’s head, those wielding actual power are allowed to go about their day without interference. When one is living only in one’s head instead of living in the real world, one is not likely to cause many problems for one’s rulers. Coates seems to fall into this trap. The American Dream is indeed a façade, a façade behind which the elites rule with prejudice—yet Coates seems to buy into the myth of dreaming as though everyone should be allowed to dream. MLK’s reference to a Dream was a rhetorical approach that perhaps did more harm than good, as it was connotatively a reference to the American Dream, which is a façade and is not worth pursuing because it confuses and pits people against one another.
The reality of the problem in America is that those who…
Sources Used in Documents:
Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the World and Me.
Coates, Ta-Nehisi. “The Case for Reparations.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 22 June 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/
Franks, A. Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood: The Eugenics Connection, National Right to Life News, July 2004. Gale Group, 2013. http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/ps/i.dop=ITOF&u=vic_liberty&id=GALE,A124172824&v=2.1&it=r&sid=summon
Jones, E. Michael. Libido Dominandi: Sexual Liberation and Political Control.
Sanger, Margaret. The Function of Sterilization, October 1926, Papers of Margaret Sanger, New York University. NYU, 1926. http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sanger/webedition/app/documents/show.php?sangerDoc=304387.xml
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