Declaration of American Standards
Declaration of American Standards "We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal…that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;” (Declaration of Independence). The Founding Fathers who wrote the Declaration of Independence perfectly revealed the reward of many who yearned for the American Dream. The reward of life, liberty, and happiness seamlessly hanging in balance as we gain knowledge of the many hallucinations planted in our own American life. For instance, Allen Ginsberg’s “A Supermarket in California” and Langston Hughes’s “I, Too” venture to the clouded spectrum of the once flawless life we all once longed for, and proves the deep abyss that some of us land in due to our desired dream life. Yet, “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus avoids the surging reality of the American Dream, and excludes the perils while embracing the safe haven we all aspire greatly. Of these distinctly different excerpts, the seeking of asylum in America acts as a mirage clashing to provoke the real American identity defined by racial injustices and gender/sexual preferences. In Emma Lazarus’s poem, “The New Colossus”, the poem seamlessly unveils the expectation of the American Identity in which every immigrant dreams to have as they immigrate to a country built on privilege and independence. For instance, when Lazarus uses the Statue of Liberty as a symbol, she said, “A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning,” (5-6). The symbolism of the Stature of Liberty is used as a source of hope to those immigrating to America. Nevertheless, it takes on a significant approach to the American Dream because she seems to be lifting it up like it is the source of everyone’s happiness. Lazarus continues to illuminate the American Dream, when she recalls, “The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. ‘Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!’ cries” (8-9). New York and Jersey twin cities are one of the first cities, immigrants go into when you immigrate to America during the early twentieth century. Lazarus keens to welcome in immigrants with a caring and warm nature. She wholeheartedly yearns to capture the American Dream, and pass it on to the people arriving in America. Yet, the sweetness of the narrator is the cover up of the real American Identity soon to be unveiled. The warm nature of Lazarus continues to flourish, when she reflects, “With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” (10-11). The phrase, “Give me your tired, your poor,” is to pay homage to the empathetic gesture to those seeking refuge from their own countries. The desire to shelter and protect refugees place the American Identity as promising and assuring. The second phase, “Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” persuades refugees to rejoice in their new home. The coming to America enables a breather for those escaping turmoil in their homeland.
The seeking of asylum in America conceals the daunting truth of the American Identity, and does not reveal the prejudice against Americans who are not the ideal skin color or race. Langston Hughes’s poem, “I, Too” aspires to reveal the racial injustices as the American Identity because the increase of racial inequality is affecting America’s view of certain races. An example is when Hughes displays the reality of colored people living in America, he remarks, “I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen.” (2-3). Hughes uses “darker brother” to highlight that darker skin will set you apart from the society. Consequently, everyone should be treated equally which explains the use of “brother” instead of the typical slang for colored people. The context in the second line forces a dramatic stand to “they”. The “they” in the second line exposes the unfair treatment of colored Americans by the white Americans. The kitchen represents the white Americans’ view of colored Americans as an embarrassment or unimportant.
Therefore, Hughes unravels the harsh separation from American society due to the color of skin. Even, when America is supposed to be a place of freedom and opportunity. However, Hughes continues to reveal the racial injustices influencing the American culture, he implies, “Nobody’ll dare, Say to me, ‘Eat in the kitchen,’” (11-13). The repeating phase, “Eat in the Kitchen” only continues to shed light into the real experiences of Americans. When the Declaration of Independence promised equality for all men, the American Dream was born. Yet, Hughes setting the poem in the twentieth century testifies the Declaration of Independence when African Americans decided to start a civil right movement. Hughes challenges the Declaration of Independence again, he said, “They’ll see how beautiful I am. And be ashamed—I, too, am America.” (17-19) Final lines of Hughes’ poem proudly reveals the harsh wake-up call for all men and women in America. The first line represents the resentment toward America by the people of color. They only hope to realize their American Dream is not a mistake to them anymore. The very last line purposefully leaves a significant call to action because Hughes allows himself to accept he is part of America. But, America is reminder of freedom. And, the people should fight for the freedom of all colors and races. The racial injustices in America influence a big part of the American culture which leads to the further problem of fitting in social standards. In the poem, “A Supermarket in California” by Allen Ginsberg, the social standards of America greatly affects the people who cannot seem to fit in as they navigate their way in a society in which they are not accepted. Ginsberg perfectly validates the entirety of the poem, he writes, “Whole families shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!” (7-9). Ginsberg’s writing, “Whole Families shopping at night!” symbolize the societal expectations of America. The demanding pressure of being a perfect American can affect those who do not fit in greatly. Accordingly, the outsiders will explore for someone or something to connect them to the perfect American society. The poem provides an example of a person who is not fitting in with society, Ginsberg recalls, “I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely, old grubber,” (10-12). Others notice the outsiders who do not redeem a spot in the perfect American society.
In particular, we notice Walt Whitman, who was a gay poet before Ginsberg’s time. The phrase, “childless, lonely,” is used by Ginsberg, who is also gay, as he relates to the characteristics of Whitman. The loneliness phrased in the poem represent the reality of living in a country full of liberty and love. The truth of the unrelenting acceptance is perpetrated as a burden. The status quote of fitting in constructs a false knowledge that only acts as a barrier between the illusion and reality of the American Dream. As the characteristics of Ginsberg’s time become more apparent in the poem, he reflects, “Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be lonely.” (25-27). The phrase, “lights out in the houses, we'll both be lonely.” reflects on the expected representation of the typical American. Thus, Ginsberg finds himself troubled deeply by this. As he knows between himself and Whitman, Ginsberg’s time-period will not be as loving and accepting as Whitman. Thus, it is considered that the society of America has grown seemingly to extract the love and liberty for people who are attracted to the same gender. The unacceptance of people with same gender/sexual preferences in America are due to the typical American standards leading to one of the faults of the American Identity. These social standards for the ideal American provide a sudden wake-up call to those living in America. The illusions of the American Dream evoked from these passages disclose hidden problems of racial inequality, living up to the social standards, and seeking refuge in a new world revealing the real American Identity. The passages from Langston Hughes, Allen Ginsberg, and Emma Lazarus proudly bring into light the expectations and realities of the American Dream. Each highlighting a specific problem to allow us to understand the meaning of the American Dream fading into the true American Identity. Today, the world can still take hold of the specific problems emphasized greatly by the three poets. Especially, when the ban of immigrants in today’s world disagrees with the acceptance of immigrants in welcoming arms. As before, the disgust toward sexual/gender preferences are still prevalent in the twenty-first century. If we notice closely, due to these problems, we can still see the true American Identity influencing our lives today.