For African American millennials, the dream remains deferred – and in some cases, is a nightmare.
“The American Dream, the idea that anyone can succeed through hard work, is one of the most enduring myths in this country. And one of its most prominent falsehoods,” wrote Reniqua Allen, author of “It Was All a Dream,” in a recent New York Times Op-Ed.
“As I entered my 30s, still navigating what achieving the dream would mean, I wondered what other Black millennials were feeling. I wanted to figure out what my generation of Black Americans thought about the promise of the American dream and how we can attain it,” Allen said.
Keli Hammond, owner and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based B Classic Marketing & Communications, said Black millennials have an uphill climb to achieve the American Dream.
“Unfortunately, this is a very true reality. Race is a touchy subject in this country—always has been, always will be,” Hammond said. “It’s funny because, even though it’s part of our social construct, it’s still incredibly uncomfortable when it’s talked about.”
Hammond, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Advertising from Temple University and a certification in Change Leadership from Cornell University, noted that race has a way of humbling dreams quite fast.
“We weren’t afforded the same job opportunities or raises, we don’t have the same networks, we’re not given the same leeway if we make a mistake, and we don’t have the same access to capital or generational wealth – it’s hard every day,” Hammond said.
In a survey customized exclusively for NNPA Newswire, Branded Research asked 452 African Americans which aspect of the American Dream is most important.
A total of 30 percent said having a comfortable retirement; 21 percent said homeownership; 21 percent said setting up their children for success; 15 percent said owning a business; 7 percent said a college education; and 6 percent said having a nuclear family.
But others are rejecting the American Dream entirely.
“The American Dream isn’t what I strive for [because] my goal is to be successful in my chosen creative path of singing and to travel the world doing that—not to be tethered to a job I don’t like, to pay a mortgage I don’t want in order to live permanently anywhere,” said New York musician Risa Branch.
“I finally paid off my student loans. I want the freedom to be wherever I want to be,” Branch said.
“If I did get the surplus funds to buy a house, I’d rent it out and use the investment to fund a more mobile lifestyle.”