In contemporary America, the racial wealth gap is growing, with families transmitting race and class inequalities from generation to generation. Yet Americans continue to hold deep-rooted beliefs in the principles of individualism, equal opportunity, and meritocracy. Education, the "Great Equalizer," is supposed to level the playing field, ensuring that every child-regardless of family of origin-gets an equal chance at success. Drawing on in-depth interviews with 200 black and white families, The American Dream and the Power of Wealth starkly reveals the enormous extent to which parents defend their beliefs in the values that lie at the heart of the American Dream. Yet the way wealth is acquired and the way it is used categorically puts children from different families on vastly different educational trajectories, leaving them with uneven sets of opportunities.
Table of Contents
1. Inherited Legacies: Inequality and the American Dream 2. High Hopes: The American Dream and the Great Equalizer 3. Separate and Unequal: It's Not Necessarily Fair, and it's Not Necessarily Right 4. The Power of Wealth: Good Schools and Money Matters
Heather Beth Johnson is Frank R. Hook Assistant Professor of Sociology at Lehigh University.