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It Was All a Dream: A New Generation Confronts the Broken Promise to Black America

Reniqua Allen

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Educational: Social sciences

The story of how the American Dream has failed young black Americans, offering a deeply reported, compassionate portrait of a generation searching for a better future.

In the last few decades, any hope of economic progress for black Americans has been slowly and steadily undermined. This quiet crisis was only exacerbated by the recession, which cut black households' wealth by over 30 percent. Black millennials watched their parents try to play by the rules, buying homes and aspiring to the trappings of middle-class life, only to sink deeper and deeper into debt. Now, in the post-Obama era, young black Americans face a critical turning point, as they try to realize dreams too long deferred.

In It Was All a Dream, Reniqua Allen tells the stories--too often overlooked--of black millennials struggling, innovating, and flourishing. We meet a former college athlete burdened with mounting debt; a fashion entrepreneur who, like so many of her generation, has left New York for southern cities like Atlanta; a sex worker in Chicago; and an ambitious Republican college student who wrestles with being a black conservative on campus. Allen interweaves reflections on defining moments, from Hurricane Katrina to the murder of Michael Brown to the election of Donald Trump. Together, the lives and reflections in these pages offer a portrait of a generation on the brink, tracing their efforts to build their own futures and write their own history.

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