“I love Serena so much! I hope I can have a exciting and amazing life as same as hers. If I’m her, I could be the luckiest girl if I was her. “My friend said this to me. Serena is the iconic character in the hottest teen drama, called “Gossip Girl”. She belongs to the upper class and lives in the Upper East Side which is the most affluent area of New York City. We know social classes divide into upper class, middle class and lower class in America. Most of people want to live in the quality life where they do not have to worry about daily expenses anymore. The drama led many people dream to become a member of the upper class like Serena.
But the question is, can people move freely in between the society classes? In the reality, the upward mobility in the social classes is small. It is significantly hard for the lower class to move up to the higher class, because of their personal situations and cultures limited their opportunities. First of all, it is hard for people that are born and raised in poverty to get good education and to make the upper class man accomplishment. Also, because of language barriers and they have to start from zero, most immigrants live in the lower class and have difficulties to ascend to the higher class.
The personal background limited people’s education and it creates obstacles for the lower class to ascend to higher class. Most people from upper class and middle class have their bachelor, master or PhD degrees. Education is the key determination of the career opportunities and income. People are struggled to obtain their college-degree because they think that is the basic identity to squeeze into middle, upper-class. Some experts said if everyone can go to college, make the effort graduate and earn a degree, there will be no poverty.
It might be true, but in reality, most of people in poverty have a difficult time to become educated. Poor environment of the lower class caused their children to drop-out from the schools. And the education system of American restricts low-performance schools to obtain government funding, which most of those schools are in the slum. The lower class teenagers work hard while they are still in high school to and they have to help their families with financial problems. Therefore they don’t have much time to do the homework and study for their tests, which unable numerous the lower class teens from getting high school diploma.
Without the diploma, they cannot apply for the financial aid, and their poor families cannot afford the college tuition. All they can do is to find minimum wage jobs because of their education; they end up struggling to pay the rent, gas, food and etc. with their little salary. It’s impossible to save any money to their children and send them to get better education. There are vicious cycles that consciously drag generations of people into the poverty hell. Furthermore, some the lower class families have old-fashioned views about education. They think getting a practical job is more important than getting high education degree.
They don’t support the idea about their children waste time and money to get high education or develop on an unpractical major. I have a friend, Sherry, who was really enjoy the college life and she wanted to be a designer. But her parents found a good-paying job in the post office for her. Even though she can get financial aid to pay off her tuitions to use her extraordinary art talent, her parents still forced her to get a job instead of going to school. Both of her parents are workers in same factory and they haven’t gone to the college.
In their minds the purpose of education is for finding a good job, and it will be unnecessary to go to school if they can find a job. Needless to say, the art design which has less job opportunities and make good money, from their points of view, schooling is just a stepping stone to careers. In addition, the lower class usually lives in high criminal regions, because of the lack of education and desperate need for money. The children are enticed and threatened by crime, drug and delinquency, the frequency of it happening created an false signal that criminals is the way to live.
Many children drop out of schools to join criminal groups and perform illegal businesses, and eventually imprisoned because of the criminal activity. It causes the low enrollment rate of public schools in poor areas, which influences educational subsidization from government. Many public schools in poor areas lack funding to hire enough teachers and open classes, and it reduces the quality of education. Schools are most likely to be threatened by the criminal force. The public schools are not safe and the children can’t get good education in the school anymore.
Meanwhile, the drug problem is major issue in the America, especially in the lower class. Many teens who used drugs lost the chance to get the higher education, because the record probity them to enter any proper college. Immigrants are the other section in the lower class league, the culture shock makes immigrants difficult to achieve their goal, and it actually ties them down to from going to the higher class. Many immigrants have come to the U. S. because they have had their own American dreams, and they believe they can get wonderful lives in here.
And also most of immigrants firmly convinced that no matter who you are, if you insist on accomplish your dreams, you can change your social status, because they believe equal opportunities exist in the U. S.. However, I think reality break people’s conviction. In the immigrants’ lives, the American dream is hard to come true. The language and diversity are problems to new immigrants. America is a multicultural society, people all around the world came here for their so called “American dreams”, and they believe this place is a bourgeoisie heaven.
After they came here, different language and culture difference kept people from merge into American culture and strangled their chance to achieve middle class. The first generations have the most difficult time to adjust the new environment. The language problem makes them work as cheap labor. Most of jobs required communications, and that means speaking fluent English. Despite the fact that some immigrants had really high degrees in their own countries, they cannot find lucrative jobs in the American companies because of their limited ability to speak English. Besides, foreign licenses are not approved in US occupation systems.
A doctor with licenses and have years of experiences in China is does not mean anything to American Hospital. This person has to retake medical courses and obtain American medical practice licenses. In this case people like that do not have money to afford medical school and can’t speak good English, therefore they give up all those years of study, research, and self-esteem to eventually find other alternatives just to survive in this competitive job market. This kind of situation happened in my life. My family was new immigrants from China. My mom was a social study scholar worked in Chinese Academy of Social Science with a master degree.
But when she first came to the America, she couldn’t find a relevant job to her major. The American Academy just approves domestic degree. She had to return to the school to study infant development when she was 45 years old. After all these years she became a kindergarten teacher earning just bypass the poverty line. From self-experience, different language and schooling system caused most of new immigrants struggled in minimum wage and social approbate. On the other hand, gender plays an important role in the social class mobility for immigrants in America.
In some cultures, gender status affects class status and limited households to attain higher class before and after they move to the U. S. In those countries, women mean nothing but fertile machine. Such like in Afghanistan, a man-dominant country, their women are forbidden to go to school after Taliban dictatorship. Almost Afghan women can’t work outside, they can’t even talk to other stranger men, and all their marriages are arranged. Even though some Afghan family came to the America and had changed some of traditional perspectives, females still can’t work or go to school after they are married.
They have to take care of their family, and their families have still forced them marry early. If a woman is 25 and she is a single, she will be a shame of the whole family. It’s just happening inside Afghan immigrants; it also happens most of the Mid-East and Asian immigrants. In Asian tradition, a woman is not supposed to be smarter than a man and women are tools of continue family tree. Although some Asian countries give women more right and freedom, the cultural convention also restrict women to make accomplishments.
Many Asian women have been asked to marry early, quit job to take care of their families and give birth after they get married no matter what kind of career path they were on before that. This situation occurs a lot in families around me: The man is the only working person who supports the family. If the man loses job, woman still cannot find a job otherwise it will be an embarrassment to the man. Comparatively, two people work in a family earns more than one person supporting the family, and it will be hard for them to move to the upper-class.
To be an upper class is a dream of most American people who are in the lower and middle classes. Even though there are a few people that grabbed chance and put in tremendous amount of effort to achieve success, most of people are far from having the chance to work their way up. The social class mobility is low, and it is portrayed in a famous novel “The Great Gatsby”, rich becomes richer, poor becomes desperate. The structure of this capitalism society limited the opportunity, and with education background, crime rate, language barriers and culture shock, the upper class life is truly just an “American dream”.