Where is the Dream?
There are still faint whispers of the American dream. Folks, all across the globe, dream of creating a stable life where they are able to provide for themselves and their family for generations to come.
The dream often consists of creating a life full of safety, comfort, and even luxury. I have personally never dreamt the dream, how could I? The American dream is an unethical illusion that is wholly based on falsehoods.
In my understanding, the American dream seems to be a lucid dream where you are running a marathon. The marathon doesn’t conclude in the usual 26.2 miles because as contestants draw near the finish line, it is moved further out of reach.
At the start, you are told that there are hurdles you will have to overcome. You will have to excel in your studies and earn a quality education. You will have to repay your debts and build your credit. You will have to save money and invest wisely. These things seem simple, and attainable, for those who work hard.
However, you aren’t informed that to reach each of these hurdles you must overcome systematic obstacles designed to hinder some, and advance others.
Education is a building block of society. In America, the quality of the public k-12 education that you have access to is based on your zip code. The establishment of public education is a power of the states under the 10th Amendment. States, like North Carolina, have provisions for public education in their state constitutions. Public schools receive funding from federal, state, and local governments.
Over the last two decades, North Carolina’s 115 public school districts have received about 10% of their needed funds from the federal government. An average of 60% has come from the state and local governments are responsible for providing the remaining funds. In 2010, per capita income in NC counties ranged from almost $33,000 in Orange County to just under $15,000 in Hyde County.
Is the quality public education being provided in the 21st century what black Americans marched, protested, and fought for?
Are the districts, zones, and application-only programs used to assign students to public k-12 schools equitable?
Jazmyne Abney is a student at NC Central University in Durham and a Democracy Fellow with Common Cause NC. Learn more about the HBCU Student Action Alliance.