“…and we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. As written by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.
« Tous les Hommes naissent et demeurent libres et égaux en droits », Droits de l’Homme, 4 août 1789 (French Revolution edict which was written as the “Rights of Man” abolishing the feudal system in France)
While hanging out in the States this summer, I witnessed several incidents which gave me pause for thought. As I mentioned in my last post, American society is relentless changing and as I don’t live in the States permanently, I notice every little change more acutely than probably my American brethren who live there full time. And every time I observe something out of the ordinary, I try to what motivated these minute changes and their link with American values and culture. The following brief moments in time, have proved to me that the American dream is still alive and well. I have seen recent indicators of this standard which guarantees everyone the opportunity for prosperity and success based on hard work and to allow anyone to follow their dreams no matter what their class, caste, religion, race, ethnicity or social background. This “American exceptionalism” as many Europeans (and Americans) would call it has attracted more and more people to the shores of the United States in search of this more often than not elusive quest (especially because of the economic crisis which has been festering since 2008). And Americans like to think that this “upward social mobility” will be passed down from generation to generation as indicated in the many speeches that we are hearing at the Republican and Democratic conventions.
LGBT stands for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender” and the different colors of the logo stand for acceptance, equality and diversity. This parade has been put on in July for the past 35 years and advocates equality and diversity. It began as a small grass roots march for equal rights and recognition into the largest human rights event in San Diego County. For the first time, they received permission to allow military service members to take part in the parade dressed in their uniforms. The LGBT association focuses on activism and awareness, community services and youth counseling, protecting the environment and HIV/AIDS support services. It’s an all-day event and in addition to the parade includes a street fair where hundreds of vendors and associations display their goods and services. Their leitmotif is to tell everyone as loudly and ostentatiously as possible to “come out” and that they are there to welcome the closet gays with open arms!
The DREAM Act (acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) is an American legislative proposal first introduced in the Senate on August 1, 2001 and finally signed into law on June 15, 2012 by President Obama which allows undocumented people “to come out of the shadows” and declare their presence in the United States. Millions of young Americans have already paid the $450 fee to request a special visa. It stipulates that the American government will stop deporting young undocumented immigrants who match certain criteria previously proposed such as certain undocumented residents who graduate from U.S. high schools and who arrived in the United States as minors (with the following caveat: they must have good moral character and an excellent report card!) and lived continuously for at least five years prior to applying for the program. Another possibility to acquire a permanent visa is to complete two years in the military or two years at a four-year institution of higher learning and be in good standing or have received an honorable discharge from the army. This Dream Act mostly concerns young adults who arrived in the States as small children and who have never been to their parents’ home country. Another type of “coming out”! See Legal Resources for Dreamers.
Former Secretary of State (under George Bush) Condoleezza Rice, became American’s first woman (who just happens to be Afro-American) to be admitted to the prestigious private golf club. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was named as one of the first two women to become members of the Augusta National Golf Club, a private club which has traditionally been all-male. Darla Moore, a South Carolina businesswoman, was also offered membership (Darla Moore, Vice President of Rainwater, Inc., is founder and chair of the Palmetto Institute, a nonprofit think tank aimed at bolstering per capita income in South Carolina. She has served on the boards of the University of South Carolina and New York University Medical School and Hospital. The University of South Carolina’s business school is named in her honor, she is the first woman profiled on the cover of Fortune magazine and was also named to the list of the “Top 50 Most Powerful Women in American Business”. )
For the past decade, the Augusta National which includes over 300 members, all who had to apply to get in (based on social status) was scrutinized for its patriarchal tradition, drawing criticism from both President Barack Obama and presidential nominee Mitt Romney (neither one could be attacked on that score!). Up until now women had customarily only been allowed to play at the club as guests. Augusta National has over 300 members. This is not the first pioneering moment for Rice, who was the first black woman to be secretary of state and the first black woman to be a provost at Stanford University.Condoleeza wrote a book about her feats called “Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family,” in which she documents how she rose to become one of America’s most powerful black women in politics, despite having grown up in the segregated South.
At the GOP (republican) convention in Tampa, Florida this past week she made the case for “American Exceptionalism”, the American Dream and ‘Upward Mobility’: listen to this clip of her speech. What do you think?