For black millennials, an endangered American Dream

In The News Piece in Washington Post
Jan. 25, 2019

Reniqua Allen's book It Was All a Dream was reviewed in the Washington Post.

For black millennials, there are arguably no five words more defining of our generation than these, from Notorious B.I.G’s 1994 hit “Juicy”: “It was all a dream.” Biggie’s rhymes promised black kids and teens of the ’90s that one day, we’d be able to give a collective middle finger to the naysayers — the teachers, the police, the politicians — who told us that our dreams should be limited.
“Juicy” told a tale of black upward mobility — “Don’t let ’em hold you down/Reach for the stars” — and we relished its optimism. That our own success and happiness would exceed those of our parents seemed a foregone conclusion. But while hip-hop did, as Biggie predicted, “take it this far” — becoming the most consumed musical genre in the nation — the black millennials who were its most loyal fans have encountered a much tougher road.
Reniqua Allen’s new book, It Was all a Dream, details our generation’s disappointments. “With the increasing cost of college, the proliferation of a low-wage, low-skilled work force, and a recession,” she writes, “. . . whatever dreams we once had are in grave danger of never becoming a reality. We see versions of Black millennial success in sports . . . in popular culture, and in politics, yet these are the exceptions, not the rule. Success for young Black people is increasingly difficult to achieve.”