Friday, October 1, 2010

Positive and Negative Images


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A nation of proud citizens- this is the positive impression I get, as an 'outsider', via media and television portrayals of the states. I see the 'united' states pride and union as iconic and unlike any other country. The nations flag that adornes the exterior of many homes, the bald eagle symbol and regually sung national anthem captures the pride of the 'new' country, united despite sheer scale, differences in sub-cultures, race or religion. With the pride flows a sense of belonging, americans are, well, very american; in the sense that they embrace their traditions and ideals and give a global 'character' and presence that it is difficult to place with other cultures or countries.

State loyalty, cemented I believe through the civil war, is another result of the sense of identity and pride citizens feel- I believe due to their rich and (comparitively) fresh history.Though, the 'death' of the American dream and poverty levels must mean that though the U.S is viewed as a united and joyous nation of jolly, friendly and proud induviduals, this is not the reality of a proportion of Americans.

Each coast (and arguably state?) is so unique and different that it is hard to pigeon-hole ideas and terms upon the country as a whole. I am also aware that the way a country is represented may reflect the majority of those inhabitants, but there will always be a minority- which in a country the size of the U.S is not so small at all. For the Americans who haven't achieved their American Dream, it is very plausable to think that many may have the attitude of: what much is there to be proud of? If not the present and current circumstances, then our ancestors, history and stregnth as a massively influential 'global-super power? If so, this may be an explanation to why it appears that some of the poorest states, in the South especially, have a reputation of being so defensive and proud of their nation despite the worst quality of living?

The 'death' of the 'American Dream?-

Image from: http://christianityandtheconfusion./istianityandtheconfusion.
The 'death' of the 'American Dream' (because of the divide in wealth in the states today, and the struggle of the working class to 'move up',) is what symbolises present day America to myself in a negative way. 21st century America no longer offers opportunity to all; it seems selective dependent on your background, hometown, race and more. I see America today as a nation divided by wealth and opportunity. The 'dream': the idea that anyone can have a life in middle-class suburbia with a good job, house, family and healthcare; the idea that In America if you want anything bad enough you can earn/work/achieve it if you try- yours for the taking. I think for a significant number of Americans their 'dream' has died. Those ideas are no longer applicable, infact many Americans I feel can not better themselves at all, let alone live the dream.

Poverty is on the rise, and the 'land of oppotunity' is becoming as diverse in riches as it is in culture. The gap between poor and rich has rapidly boomed, and therefore the idea that no matter what, the ordinary American can cross that gap with sheer hard work and determination is a myth.

Taking Michigan as an example, in Detroit 1/3rd of residents live below the poverty line, despite that in West Bloomfield, Michigan the median household income is almost $100,000 annually, significantly reflecting the massive wealth gap between and differences in urban and suburban life in parts of America. The racial make up of the city is 81.6% Black, which i think speaks volumes- though the link between race and wealth is another debate, I am speaking broadly about 'Americans' with no specific race in mind. In Flint, Michigan the median household income ranked among the bottom 10 at $26,143- barely above poverty . Looking at it on a national level: "there are now 1,377,000 people living below the federal poverty line, which is defined as $20,650 annually for a household of four". How can such a wealthy nation allow such statistics, which reflect a grim struggle to survive?

I believe the wealth gap defines and says much about modern America, as does the lack of hope- Obamas ratings drop being an example of lost trust in government and presidents . His election despite his race and background symbolised that the dream was alive for some, but i feel that is the case for many countries, the dream no longer applies to the states alone, there are exceptions to 'the rule' in all countries. America to me has to lost the 'special' ability to allow for the average man to atleast better himself, simply because he was born American.


Jodie Atkins

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