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5/12/2019 Activity One - Google Docs

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Nathalie Brand

Mrs. McGovern

Independent Study

March 8, 2019

American Dream

The American dream is an interesting concept; some people seriously believe in it and

stand behind it while others do not see this and do not believe in this “dream”. Throughout

history, we can see how the American dream came about and how it has changed. It has evolved

throughout time depending on the situation of society at the present moment. An early instance

with what the dream was about was during the 1920s; the American dream at this time was about

becoming the typical, “normal” family and living a happy and free life. And for some, the

American Dream was “the illimitable opportunities and the fierce competition, this new sort of

get-rich-quick patriotism” (Epic of America 193). Many traveled and immigrated to the States to

try and achieve this dream. But that was not the case for many who traveled to the States. Many

people and immigrants were ridiculed for the way they looked, acted, and talked. They were

different from the norm and many disapproved of that. If they had different beliefs or sexuality,

that would add on even more negativity to the situation. Discrimination and segregation were a

major part that came with the attempts to try and achieve the American dream.

The entertainment industry played a major role in the discrimination of people who

immigrated to the States to live the American dream. Movies and plays portrayed anyone who

was not a white, American male in a negative light. But several laws were created against

censorship in media and motion pictures. “The new law did not simply ban ‘immoral or obscene’ 1/4
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films; it also allowed police to obstruct any movie that ‘portrays depravity, criminality or lack of

virtue of a class of citizens of any race, color, creed of religion and exposes them to contempt,

derision or obloquy” (Censoring Racial Ridicule 116). With these immoral movies, it made being

an immigrant difficult as it gave such negative ideas about these people and what they are

thought to be like. It made getting a job, finding a place to live, or finding friends difficult

because everyone saw them through the stereotypes created by the media and movies. In

researching movies and media about racism and stereotypes, we can learn more about the

negativity spread by people in the U.S. People learn many things about what it means to be an

American; many judge people off of what they hear about a group of people rather than actually

getting to know them. People of Jewish descent/religion who either immigrated or were born

first or second generation in the States received some pretty negative backlash. Due to their

portrayment in the media and on the big screen, people were led to have misconceptions about

Jewish people and tried many ways to discriminate against them. “Jewish leaders began to focus

on the representation of Jews in advertising in response to discrimination against Jews in hotels

and resorts. In the most famous case, Judge Henry Hilton rejected the wealthy businessman

Joseph Seligman from the Grand Hotel in Saratoga Springs in 1877. After this incident, Jewish

exclusionary policies spread to less affluent establishments and increased over time. In the

Catskill Mountains, for example, in the 1890s, surveys noted advertisements stating ‘No

Hebrews Taken’ This kind of ‘race prejudice’ was most pronounced in areas with many Jewish

vacationers. But the restrictions were not limited to resorts: Jews were largely barred from

private schools and college fraternities, and they were segregated in the housing market through

the use of restricted covenants in urban areas” (Censoring Racial Ridicule 117-118). When 2/4
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reading about cases and scenarios like this, it gets hard from many to have the motivation to

persevere on as they keep getting shot down from place after place. Equality starts to become a

distant hope for them that seems almost unattainable for many. Racism and discrimination were

not just about black versus white and who is the superior race; racism was and still is about being

different and not fitting the standard or what society deemed as normal. Normal in the U.S. was

being a white American born person - specifically male - who has little to no background that is

not American. If you did not fit this standard, people who did would find ways to pick you apart

and segregate you even more. You were distance and isolated, just a race completely on their

own. Again, when dealing with Jewish people and not fitting in, the media took matters into their

own hands to create ideas and stereotypes for these people. “Journalistic exposes of prostitution

and organized crime were not the only source for exaggerated images of Jewish criminality.

Jewish criminals, particularly in the realm of white slavery, were popular characters in plays and

films of the early twentieth century” (Censoring racial Ridicule 124). It was hard to be different,

it was hard to be from a different country/region and look like you are from that country/region.

The media made it hard by twisting stories and truths and turning them into stereotypes that

change peoples mind on an entire race, rather than the one person who had actually done that

thing that was twisted.

American dream was supposed to about equality and equal chances for all. That people

who came to the U.S. came looking for opportunities for a better life than maybe they had

previously. But when you read about the treatment they got and the segregation and

discrimination they faced, it was hard for these immigrants to find equality. The U.S. was 3/4
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founded by immigrants who came from other countries and colonized, but we are harshly

treating people who immigrated here for the same reasons we did at first, new opportunities.

Jewish and other races/people had their images distorted by society and the media. The

media took matters into their own hands and made it nearly impossible for some to live out the

American dream and become who they want. The American Dream became a distant dream and

hope that was unattainable for some who were greatly affected by how their culture was

portrayed in movies, media, and the entertainment industry. It became difficult to not be a white

American man living in the U.S. That white picket fence family who lived happy had become

unreachable by many; who, when they immigrated, only wanted the best for their families and

themselves. Who wanted to escape whatever harshness they faced back home and start fresh. But

that harshness followed them and made their lives continuously difficult to live. That American

Dream was no longer a dream. . 4/4