Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho said that the American Dream is alive and well for minorities living in America during a panel discussion at the Newseum in morning.
He was disturbed by media coverage that, he said, implies minorities can't pull themselves up by their bootstraps in this country. He said his mother worked hard and went without certain amenities to provide him with an education that set the foundation for a successful career.
"Anybody can accomplish [that], but you need one person in that cycle of dependency to make the decision that we're not going to have the same problems we've had in the past," said Labrador.
Rep. Hansen Clarke, D-Mich., who was also on the panel along with Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Mo., said that he agreed, but he pointed out to barriers that stack the deck against minorities. Minorities, who often come from families without the resources to pay for college, graduate in with debt—often behind their better-off, more-affluent peers, Clarke said.
He also referred to the poll finding that a majority of Hispanics and blacks think that racial prejudice contributes to the income gap between whites and minorities. About a quarter of whites felt the same.
"When doors are closed repeatedly by racism, you give up," he said. It's important for minorities to "see they already have the gifts they need to succeed."
Cleaver said it is important for Americans to continue to talk about race so that they can debate the changes necessary to improve the lot of minorities.
"Change does not run on the heels of inevitability," he said.