1 IntroductionWith the ‘Land of Limitless Opportunities’, the United States of America are associated bymany people – especially by those, who cannot live with many opportunities in their homecountries. So, Mexicans, Asian or other nationalities all over the world have the dream of livingin the United States to improve living conditions and to be a part of this illustrated equal, freeand limitless society. But could it be, that there even are people, who are actually a part of thecountry, but do not receive those promised opportunities, which are deeply rooted in theAmerican Dream, and have to suffer from i.e.
poverty, segregation and from destroyed dreamsand hopes? Above all, it is known that the Puerto Rican minority in the United States of Americais partly affected of this described situation: Although they are officially citizens of Americaand the island Puerto Rico is a U.S.- Commonwealth, so they have a special relation to theUnited States of America, they are treated like strangers and are not able to live the AmericanDream. – But are there maybe Puerto Ricans, who “immigrated” from their island to themainland, and who achieved their aims through the American Dream in the United States, or isthat just a dream which never became true? To answer these questions and issues, thisinvestigation will deal with the Puerto Rican minority and its hopes and dreams with regards tothe reality and the real circumstances in the U.S.
by considering the main notions of theAmerican Dream. For this comparison, firstly, the notions and ideas of the American Dreamwill be examined by looking closely at the ideas (Life, Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness)mentioned in the Declaration of Independence and are the basis for the American Dream.Afterwards, the Puerto Rican special political connection to America and the reasons for theemigration of Puerto Ricans into the mainland of the United States will be concretely pointedout. Lastly, the comparison will take place which concretely examines the Puerto Rican hopesand dreams with the American ‘Dream’ and if it becomes reality, or if the reality illustrates anAmerican ‘Nightmare’.2 American Dream2.
1 The Importance and Value of the American DreamThe American Dream is a “key concept within American history, society and culture”(Hoffmann 13) so that the ideas of the American Dream are “essential for an understanding ofAmerican society”. Consequently, the politics of America, the history of immigration and eventhe national values and the national moral are influenced by it.4To understand the importance of this “dream” for the American society, firstly, the big referenceto the American history will be shown. Many of the ideas, the people bring into connection withthe American dream, have been essential for the United States and its foundation, which werewritten down in the Declaration of Independence from 1776: “We hold these truths to be selfevident,that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certainunalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” (qtd.
inHoffmann 18). Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness – key words for a worldwide known’dream’ for which America tries to stand for. Also, everyone seems to be protected while livingwith these rights – lifelong and no matter of the economic or social status.
2.2 The Main Ideas of the American DreamBy considering the mentioned rights of the Declaration of Independence, the American Dreamwill be pointed out more concrete.2.2.1 LifeThe right of “life” describes that everyone has the “ability to grow in wisdom and love”, has theright to exist and “acts as an individual entity” (Jacobs). Everyone can, result in, exist as a humanand is allowed to have feelings and to live with feelings and thoughts in social environments,i.e.
in the families or while being with friends. The relations to other people which have to beprotected by the state, since they are ‘unalienable’. Thus, everyone has to be treated as a humanby the state and by the people living in the society. Furthermore, the human being has the rightto learn: “to develop their intellects by growing in knowledge” (Jacobs).. This idea of life is amain aspect for the American Dream and goes hand in hand with the notion of equality (see1.2.3.
for more concrete information).2.2.2 LibertyAccording to Hoffmann, “at the core, the American Dream consists of the notion that – if aperson works hard – that persons will achieve his or her goals and improve his or her positionin life” (13).
Thus, the Liberty describes freedom and the ability to do something or to dosomething else. The actions of an individual depend on the will of the individual. In Thomas’sphilosophy, it is differentiated between this ability – described as “potency” – and the “act …what is something really” (qtd. in Jacobs). However, both are linked with each other.
Thatcorrelation can be explained through the reason that for example changing our actions isconnected with the potency to do anything else: “I am sitting, but can stand; I am heavy, but canlose weight; I am pale, but can tan” (Jacobs). The emphasis is consequently on the verb can.5The individual can, if he/she wants to. The decision is his/her, but the most important andessential aspect of liberty is that all doors are open for everyone to do what they want to do.
This spirit of freedom and liberty is also a vital part of the American Dream.2.2.3 The Pursuit of Happiness, Equality and WealthThe Pursuit of Happiness has a big connection to the right of liberty. It has a big importance inthe American Dream because it brings different prerequisites along which constitute otherimportant rights. For example, Jacobs puts forward that the religious freedom is a prerequisitefor being happy since the religion makes many people achieving happiness (cf.
Jacobs). And itseems to be clear that people would be unhappy and discontented if they have to suffer from i.e.religious oppression.
As a consequence, indispensable rights seem vital for the Pursuit ofHappiness and automatically for the American Dream. Next to the included rights, the AmericanDream also indicates wealth and material success which everyone can achieve through i.e.education. The dream of “going from rags to riches” (“The American Dream”) is also one ofthe main notions of the American Dream and has relations to the pursuit of material happiness.
This aspect is also linked to liberty since people hope to become wealthy not by doing nothing,but by working hard to rise in the society (cf. “The American Dream”). Furthermore, the pursuitindicates a from the state ensured social equality and a non-segregated society with freedom, sothat aims, which someone tries to achieve, can be legally, fairly and freely achieved. Hoffmannagrees with this view of the American Dream: “… all people have the right to pursue theirgoals with a minimum of state control” (13).3 Puerto Ricans in AmericaAfter pointed out the main notions of the American Dream, this chapter will explain the PuertoRican origin shortly and the situation of Puerto Ricans in America with regards to the economicand social status.3.2 Puerto Rico3.2.
1 LocalizationPuerto Rico is an island located between the North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. It ispositioned east of the Dominican Republic. (cf. Puerto Rico Fast Facts)3.2.
2 America and Puerto RicoSince the discovery of the island by Spain, Puerto Rico was controlled by the European countryas a colony. In this time, slaves were brought on the island so that many races lived together (cf.Puerto Rico’s History). After the United States claimed the island for themselves in the6American-Spanish war, the Treaty of Paris (on December 10, 1898) concluded the war and gavethe sovereignty of Puerto Rico to the United States (cf. Puerto Rico’s History).
On March 2,1917 in the Jonas-Shaforth Act, Puerto Rico became an official territory of the United States,which ensures Puerto Ricans a statutory citizenship (of the United States). In 1952, Puerto Ricobecame a US-commonwealth.3.
3 Immigration of Puerto Rican into the United States3.3.1 Economic Reasons for the Big MigrationAlthough Puerto Ricans were citizens of the United States since 1917, the large migration of thepopulation to the United States began after 1945, when the industries in the United States offeredmore jobs after World War II (Gibson). Since the agrarian island and its inhabitants had tostruggle with poverty and a high unemployment rate (Gibson), the number of emigration startedraising (Puerto Rican Emigration: Why the 1950s?). The “pursuit of better economicopportunities” (Gibson) was the main reason for i.e. 470,000 Puerto Ricans between 1940 and1950 to emigrate to the United States (cf. Puerto Rican Emigration: Why the 1950s?).
Another reason for emigration is the Great Depression which concerned Puerto Rico because oftheir economic dependence to the US. Next to the Depression, a hurricane (San Felipe) let therate of unemployment grow quickly (cf. Malando) so that poverty raised, too.
3.3.2 The current situation of the Puerto Rican ImmigrationToday, the situation of Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico has been become better, but theunemployment rate still amounts to 11.8 percent (cf.
Puerto Rico Fast Facts) and 43.5 percentof the country lives officially in poverty (cf. “QuickFacts Puerto Rico”). About 192,000 peopleleft Puerto Rico between 2010 and 2014.3.4 Life in America – Demographics9.2 percent of the U.
S. Hispanic community has a Puerto Rican origin. 52 percent of them livein the Northeast of the United States, while the most live in New York, where they amount to23 % of the total (cf. Mastropasqua).3.5 Socioeconomics3.
5.1 Puerto Rican in the American SocietyFollowed by the Mexicans and the Cubans, the Puerto Rican minority is the most highlysegregated in the American society (cf. Goldsmith and Blakely 135). Furthermore, next toAfrican-American, the most Puerto Ricans are not a part of the mainstream American jobs,education, culture and economic life (cf. Goldsmith and Blakely 74).
The median age of Puerto7Rican is 27 and less than the U.S. average, which is 37. Furthermore, according to Michael PaulSacks, the segregation against Hispanics in cities (e.g. Hartford, Connecticut), where themajority of Hispanic people have a Puerto Rican origin, increases, since non-Hispanic Whitesstart to move away from areas, in which Hispanics live (cf.
Mastropasqua). A separation ofpopulation is the result (cf. Mastropasqua).3.5.2 Economic SituationToday, 25,6 – 27 percent of people with Puerto Rican origin live below poverty in the UnitedStates – that are approximately 1,142,216 people. (cf.
Macrtney, Bishaw and Fontenot 13). Theyhave achieved higher education levels than the overall Hispanic population – 16 percent of thePuerto Rican over 25 years of age received a bachelor’s degree. However, the poverty rateamong Puerto Ricans is higher than the Hispanic overall, which counts 47 percent (cf.
Mastropasqua). The social segregation and separation of the Puerto Rican minority in somecities of the United States may contribute the rate of poverty. Also, it is examined, that PuertoRicans work in low-wage jobs and have often to struggle with unemployment – in the U.S., too(cf. Mastropasqua). The unemployment is substantiated in the disadvantaged position in thelabor market because of their low-wage services (cf.
Mastropasqua).4 The American Dream and Puerto Rican MinorityAfter examining the American Dream with its main ideas and the Puerto Rican minority withits immigration history and its socioeconomic situation separately, the two topics will be relatedto each other to analyze if the American Dream and the hopes of the Puerto Rican migration hasbecome reality.4.1 Puerto Ricans and the Fulfillment of the American Dream4.1.1 Economic Rise, Liberty and WealthAs mentioned above, the Puerto Rican came to the United States with the main intention “ofbetter economic opportunities” (Gibson) since the unemployment on Puerto Rico lead toeconomic problems for many persons. This hope of becoming wealthy, which is also a part ofthe American Dream, have unfortunately not become reality for many persons, because 25,6 to27 percent have to live below poverty – and that percentage describes the current situation (cf.Macrtney, Bishaw and Fontenot 13), although many Puerto Rican, who visited an Americanschool, have better chances to be able to follow the idea of the material Pursuit of Happinessand wealth.
Consequently, there is no doubt that the economic situation of Puerto Ricans inAmerica after the 1950s, where the big immigration from Puerto Rico into the United took place8(cf. Gibson), was even worse and more problematic than today because the immigrants hadunderstandably problems to even speak English in the former Spanish Puerto Rican colony since94.5 percent of the children do not speak English at home (cf. QuickFacts Puerto Rico). Forrising into a greater wealth, the young generation do better, but have bigger difficulties toachieve the same chances with regards to other social groups (cf.
Roberts) because they probablyhave to find a way to seize the opportunities given in for instance schools, although they comefrom families and other social environments, in which jobs like industrial workers, seamstresses,janitors or doormen (cf. Gonzales) were the main represented or they have other problems.Like the same happened to the African-American minority in the United States, the PuertoRicans also experienced a financial split in their own community because of the decline offactory jobs in the United States in the 1980s, so that people had to move to the suburbs in NewYork or even had to leave the United States and go back to the island because of the decreasingpoverty while being in the U.S. (!) (cf. Roberts). Thus, the American Dream and the hopes ofPuerto Ricans with regards to economic amelioration, unfortunately, have not become true forthe people who have been effected by this decline.
Furthermore, there have been Puerto Rican,who came from other cities of America to New York and were mostly higher educated and hadhigher incomes than the “Native Puerto Rican New Yorker” (cf. Roberts) so that there has beena concurrence in the city between the members of the social minority in the labor market.That Puerto Rican are even under the overall poverty of Hispanics, although they are averagelyhigher educated (cf. Mastropasqua), shows, that the notions of Liberty and the Pursuit ofHappiness have not become reality for many Puerto Ricans living in the United States.
Theycannot achieve their aims to improve their financial situation freely and without limits.4.1.2 Social Issues, Equality and the Right of LifeNext to the economic and financial issues, the social issues also describe an issue which thePuerto Rican minority has to struggle with and which contributes the economic problems suchas poverty.Segregation against minorities – a main problem in America which also has affected and affectsthe Puerto Rican minority so that even a separation of them developed in some cities of theUnited States (see above). Of course, this is not compatible with the American Dream. Howshould a Puerto Rican can change his social position, when non-Puerto-Rican move away fromthem and show them indirectly their aversion? A person, who lives in the part of the town, inwhich just Hispanics live and which loses attractiveness, should rise socially and give them thechance to change their life without social difficulties? Thus, the notion of equality to follow9their actual aim is also not given for many persons: the financial success.
A reason for this socialdevelopment could be, that just 54 percent of adults know that people born in Puerto Rico areAmerican citizens (cf. Morning Consult). Consequently, the segregation can be reinforced bythe big part of non-Puerto-Rican population, since they treat the Puerto Rican, who can have forinstance a darker skin color or another culture, just by considering their physical appearance ortheir behavior and do not see them as active participants of the society. Thus, many PuertoRicans are denied from the right of equality, and cannot “develop their intellects by growing inknowledge” (Jacobs) without any hurdles.As a result, for every Puerto Rican, it was and is not as easy as to assert the given opportunitiesin the United States like other groups in America to rise in society and to become wealthy.Probably, only the next generation grew up in the United States, had automatically a biggerchance to rise in society and to become wealthy.A social strain for the American and Puerto Rican relations is the current president DonaldTrump, who belittles the hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico and their inhabitants (on October 19,2017) by for instance saying that Puerto Ricans should be “proud” of the death numbers on theisland, while the hurricane Katrina, which affected directly the United States, were a “realcatastrophe” (cf.
The Guardian). As the most powerful person in the United States and also inthe world, this kind of public statements (e.g. on Twitter) may definitely not help combatingagainst cultural segregation and mutual lack of understanding.
An American President becomesa threat for the ideas of the American Dream.4.2 The Achievement of an “AmeRícan” DreamThe American Dream and the hopes of the Puerto Rican have shown that there are, however,many economic and social problems which are not compatible with the notions of the AmericanDream. For instance, the Puerto Rican seem to be something different to the non-Puerto-Ricanson a cultural basis. Nevertheless, the writer Tato Laviera, who suffered from poverty as well ashealth problems (cf. “Poet Spans Two Worlds, but Has a Home in Neither”) and had to dealwith the new culture of Americans since he lives in New York for a long time (cf.
Gonzalez,Poet Spans Two Worlds, but Has a Home in Neither), creates a new dream and utopia ofAmerica in his own written poem “AmeRícan”: The American and Puerto Rican as well as othercultures (African-American, European, etc.) have been merged in the new created identity ofPuerto Rican people living in the United States. The lyrical persona is “proud” of this newidentity which shows the “peace” of nationalities and ethnics group and that the Puerto Ricans10″are walking bridges” (qtd. in Poetry Foundation). Of course, this is also an idealized picture ofPuerto Ricans, because every Puerto Rican is not a ‘metaphorical fusion’, but it expresses a newkind of a lifestyle for Puerto Ricans in America which supports the main ideas of the AmericanDream – fusion supports equality, pride the life, the right to have feelings and the utopia, andgoing “further and further, to dwell in the spirit of divinity” (qtd. in Poetry Foundation) supportsthe liberty and the pursuit. That the American and Puerto Rican culture can be a fusion, speaksagainst segregation and maybe also against a lack of cultural understanding of Puerto Rican andAmerican. It also may show an inner connection between the members of these cultures.
But ifthis new dream is becoming true for every Puerto Rican, is similarly questionable like theAmerican Dream in general, when considering the circumstances of many Puerto Ricans whocannot feel this fusion because of e.g. segregation or even worse: racism.5 ConclusionAll in all, the complete Puerto Rican minority has not achieved its hopes as well as the AmericanDream in general. Many Puerto Rican have to suffer from poverty and are not able to rise in thesociety to ensure themselves wealth because of the inequality and the segregation against PuertoRican, which increase and become even worse for the people, who imagined Americadifferently: A country, in which there are limitless opportunities – for everyone, no matter ofnationality, or the economic and social status.
The country becomes for them a place, which isunfortunately also influenced by non-tolerant citizens, who do not want to try a society includingthe Puerto Ricans, who are actually citizens of the United States of America, because many non-Puerto-Rican people do not know or maybe even do not accept them as American because oftheir different physical appearance or culture. Togetherness would help the Puerto Rican tomake their dreams become true – segregation and aversion make it more difficult for them.Consequently, many people have really discovered an American Nightmare, while just higheducatedPuerto Ricans from the next generations, who grew up in the United States, couldassert the opportunities, that are given in the United States of America. The ‘AmeRícan’ dreamand utopia of Laviera is also just referable to the next generations, who lived together with thePuerto Rican and non-Puerto-Rican culture and mentality and had to experience – how everyhuman with a migrant background – both cultural sides: The feeling of being American and ofbeing Puerto Rican. But at least, this ‘AmeRícan’ dream shows, that there could be a peacefulfusion of those cultures, who are officially nearly a part of the same country, so that there couldbe Puerto Ricans, who can maybe overcome social limits and achieve the American Dream.11