The Black Millennial: An Introspective View
As was the case with the young people of the day throughout our history, Millennials today find themselves on the frontlines of seemingly every hot-button issue tearing at the fabric of our society. For Black Millennials in particular, there is a struggle to change the reality that which we live in. A reality that, in regards to issues such as racial inequality, is sometimes a case of life-or-death.
Similar to the many before us who took to the picket lines in defense of social justice, we too are emboldened to fight for our beliefs, yet are often hampered by the inexperience that comes with our young age. Moreso however, we find ourselves in a dichotomy that see’s us revered for our cultural significance in society (especially pop-culture) yet unfairly vilified for being the destructive force of the All American value system. The black man, society’s superpredator, lives each day knowing that he’d never be extended the benefit of a doubt in the court of public opinion. The black woman dare not express her discomfort or disagreement for fear of labels that paint her character into a corner, as “sassy,” “rude,” or “disrespectful.” With the dissolving of socially-constructed gender roles, the Millennial demographic of both experiences external nuance reactions to that which they identify with and, with that in mind, sympathizes with the other.
We share conversations about how far we’ve come, yet express the fear that we may not survive the ride home from work. We speak of professional dreams and intended accomplishments, even though we hesitate to check the “race” box on the applications for our dream jobs. We rush to celebrate expressions of our culture, no matter how detrimental they may be - because representation matters. As we get older our dreams become our nightmares, because our hearts are pure but we our methods need refining - refining for the world that is and not the one that ought to be.
We acknowledge the fact that we are living in the best of times. But while the comparison to the times before this see us as the beneficiaries of the fruits beared by martyrs forever etched in history, we can’t help but scan the landscape of society’s norms in search for our place in it. Do we assimilate or stand our ground? Does our black skin allow us to choose? And what does “being yourself” mean to the Black Millennial if identity reigns supreme over our individuality?
It’s time for us to talk.