The American Dream? One In Five Blacks Says Fuhgeddaboudit

The American Dream? One In Five Blacks Says Fuhgeddaboudit

white man, black man, race, struggle
(Image: iStock/Erstudiostok)

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.

Even more concerning, 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%.

But the vast majority of blacks, 62%, feel they’re on the way to achieving the American dream.

What, exactly, does the American dream even mean these days? The research asked respondents to use their own definition when determining whether they’d achieved it, were on their way, or felt it was out of reach. However, most people agreed on three essential elements:

  • Freedom of choice in how to live
  • Have a good family life
  • Retire comfortably

Almost half believed that making valuable contributions to your community was essential to their view of the American dream, while 43% ranked owning a home and having a successful career as must-haves.

Only 11% included becoming wealthy in their essentials. In fact, four in 10 said becoming wealthy wasn’t even important.


black and the American dream
(Source: Pew Research Center)


Politics also seemingly plays a role in people’s perceptions of where they are in life, as there are significant differences in how the various parties say they’re doing.

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.

The outlook is bleaker for the groups Pew labels “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.

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.