People often refer to the idea of ”The American dream” as if it is one concept. There are several more versions of the “American dream”. We have all been raised in different homes with a variety of cultures and belief systems. It is ignorant to believe that every American has the same idea as another. Though we are united through American citizenship, we are divided in so many ways. As Americans we share some values such as Freedom of Speech and more in which we are promised through the constitution, but our individual interpretation of these values are not the same. We tend to believe that everyone values the same thing as we do but in reality we share many different views of the same values. Those suffering from racial discrimination, have a dream of freedom of speech, speaking out against oppression and injustice just to feel safe. While others who do not suffer from racial oppression, are concerned with success beyond basic human needs. Their is more than one idea of the American dream, people should be allowed to have their own versions of values that we all hold in common.
When a person is constantly feeling threatened, their main concern is achieving safety. With out feeling safe an individual is unable to reach higher needs such as esteem, and self actualization. Safety is one of the first few steps needing to be achieved on the ladder of hierarchy of needs. Without being able to effectively move past safety; individuals are unable to achieve an effective social mentality, esteem, or self actualization. These are known as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is simply a stepping ladder of needs, where basic needs must be meet before one can achieve higher growth levels. Racist individuals know that by their oppressive actions, they can limit others freedoms. Someone subjected to racial oppression will not have the same dream in their mind as someone who receives no negative attention for their race.
Racial prejudice directly effects the safety of individuals, something referenced by the hip-hop group N.W.A., known as Niggas with Attitude. These artist were constantly discriminated against by police, such as the letter they received from the F.B.I , following the release of the album “Fuck tha Police”. N.W.A. was not alone in their struggle against racism, many individuals suffer the same discrimination daily in the United States. N.W.A’s American dream was far different than a citizen who was never harassed because of their race. These artist dreamed to be able to make their music and live their life free from police brutality .This song was their way of using what little freedom of speech they felt they had, it was also a catalyst , allowing their voices to finally be heard.
“Fuck tha police
Comin straight from the underground
Young nigga got it bad ’cause I’m brown
And not the other color so police think
They have the authority to kill a minority”
(lyrics from Fuck tha Police)
Publishing this song was an appropriate way to call attention to a serious issue in a corrupt system. “Fuck the police” brought attention to an injustice in law enforcement. Despite the authorities threats, N.W.A, needed their voice to be heard.
In the song ” Fuck tha Police” , the artist make it a point to state ” my identity by itself causes violence”. N.W.A was not a violent group , but because of their race they were perceived as violent. N.W.A’s thirst for freedom of speech and beliefs is similar to another well known person Mark Stroman. Mark Stroman’s choose his identity of violence when he committed hate crimes against another race. Mark wanted his beliefs to be heard and to not be judged by who he was or how he felt.
This was taken from Stroman’s blog in prison. Stromans upbringing was different than N.W.A.’s, but both of these people were born into a lower class family, and raised on low income. Though they were different races, they shared similar values of freedom of speech, Stroman and N.W.A. both believed in freedom of speech, even when others do not agree. These are similar values , yet far different dreams.
Some people believe we are all from the same country , therefore we must all have the same American dream. We may be given the same rights constitutionally , but that does not mean we have the same thoughts, beliefs , or values. Though we have constitutional rights that protect our freedoms , other socioeconomic factors such as income, education, and race can hinder those freedoms.
Many people argue that racism is an old issue. “Fuck tha police” was published in 1988, when racial discrimination and police brutality were a huge issue. What we tend to ignore is the overwhelming evidence that racism is very much at large. According to Pbs , the pervasive narrative about racial change is that it occurs through generations — old racists die out, and new, young, progressive people take their place. This album may have emerged decades ago when police brutality was huge, but the cycle continues through the years.
Racial oppression and police brutality are still a current issue in America. We are all born with certain rights as citizens of the United States of America. These rights do not change based on race, religion or personal beliefs. Even though we share these values of rights and wrongs, our ideas of the American dream are far different. People being oppressed will never have the same idea of an American dream as someone who is free. Until every American can feel comfortable in their own skin , we won’t all be dreaming of the same kind of peace.