Millennials, We're Down Bad

Vol. 1, No. 11, March 18th, 2021

Things have been hectic globally to say the least. With all that’s currently going on, I definitely need to pause and reflect on things that have transpired. Take a walk down memory lane with me. The time frame is winter 2001. The Ravens are fresh off a Super Bowl win against the Giants and one of the more “interesting” halftime shows was performed. A couple of weeks later, Destiny’s Child released the single “Survivor”. Twenty years ago, I had no idea that this particular song would be the theme music for the millennial generation. We survived the 9/11 terrorist attacks just to enter a workforce that was in a midst of a recession. There was some job recovery, yet soon after was the Great Recession and now the economic impacts of COVID-19 have affected us as well. Of course, there are exceptions. There are numerous millennials doing extremely well in these dire circumstances, but we all could be doing so much better. Figuratively, the unfortunate truth is that we’ve been left to hold the bag. Boomers and Gen X (yes, you too) have not only ravaged our economy, but have done serious damage to our climate. Now we’re left to clean up this mess with the hopes that the generations after us can reverse some of the harm.

We millennials are often negatively stereotyped of being entitled, wanting special privileges, or even being job hoppers. Who can honestly blame us for having any of these attributes even though they are large mischaracterizations from previous generations? Why wouldn’t a millennial move from employer to employer for a moderate pay raise especially when the rise of inflation is not matching merit increases? In a study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, millennials had less wealth in 2016 than previous generations did at that age. This impacts not only our ability to pay off student loans, own a home, but save for retirement. Compound all of this with historical racial inequity in the United States, even though millennials are the most diverse generation. More of this inequity has been exposed during our time dealing with the coronavirus. Black and brown people largely make up the essential workforce and have had to make difficult choices on whether to feed their families or risk contracting the disease. A rock and a hard place would be the most appropriate phrase to use here, but the dynamics of race, age, and the economy need a more telling description of what we’re truly faced with. Simply put, it’s damn near impossible to win right now.

This isn’t a victimization piece, it’s merely an understanding of where we collectively are as a generation and how we arrived in our current situation. Over the years I’ve become more solutionary, these cultural criticisms don’t come unaccompanied. Of the many solutions that I have for millennials to get out of the mess we didn’t create, is to provide each of us with student loan forgiveness. Experian, the multinational consumer credit reporting company, estimates the American student loan debt at $1.57 trillion. Erasing this debt, effectively will create generational wealth for millions of Americans. It grants people, particularly Black people, an opportunity to either purchase a home or fund an entrepreneurial endeavor. On average, it takes borrowers 20 years to repay a student loan debt. That type of length for a repayment and the interest that’s tacked on forces many of us to live through our peak income generating years in the hole. Blessed are those that obtained and kept a scholarship or had the resources available to pay for college without the need of a loan. Many of us didn’t have those advantages and are actively ensuring the next generation of scholars do not experience the same.

On a micro level, having a side hustle, part-time job, or some form of residual income helps alleviate the blows we’ve all faced through the downturn in the economy. When quarantine started in the U.S., just over a year ago, many of us were not only forced to think outside of the box for income, but transform what were once hobbies into successful businesses. There are numerous success stories of relative unknowns blossoming into social media influencers, people finding new opportunities with existing technology, and individuals creating a new source of income with skills that were being underutilized pre-COVID. Even with traditional higher education not always being a viable resource, there are platforms like Coursera and Udemy that allow people to learn new skill sets in a wide array of areas. I’ve taken courses on project management, writing, and investing. The applicable knowledge gained from these courses far outweigh the costs to enroll. Additionally, there are forms of media that also provide education on personal finance. Having produced two podcasts and co-hosted one, I’m still in love with that form of media. Podcasts have multi purposes for me, but one of the more integral uses is gaining knowledge that can be applied in my life. When it comes to personal finance, I listen to His And Her Money and Brown Ambition. They have practical solutions and don’t speak in all of the financial jargon that usually turns people off in the areas of saving and generating more income. 

As a generation, we’ve seen it all and most of us haven’t even turned 40 yet. We’re down bad y’all. Our lives were forged through some of the worst tragedies and unfortunate events in recent history, yet we’re still here. We won’t stop. We’ll work harder. We’ll keep on surviving.


Business Moves

LeBron James becomes part owner of Boston Red Sox

NBA superstar LeBron James, along with his business partner Maverick Carter, have become partners in the Fenway Sports Group. This partnership gives LeBron an ownership stake in the Boston Redsox. He currently has a stake in the Premier League soccer team Liverpool, which is under the FSG umbrella. James and Carter are the first Black partners at FSG.

Entertainment

Swizz Beatz and Timbaland sell Verzuz, gain equity in Triller

The live streaming music platform, Verzuz, has been acquired by Triller. Verzuz was founded by entertainers, Swizz Beatz and Timbaland. Along with the acquisition, Timbaland and Swizz Beatz have become shareholders in Triller and allocated a portion of their equity to all performers that have appeared on Verzuz.

Justice Or Just Us

The case of Kendrick Johnson is being reopened

According to Lowndes County (in Georgia) Sheriff Ashley Paulk, an investigation into the death of Kendrick Johnson will be reopened. Kendrick was found dead in a rolled up gym mat eight years ago at Lowndes County High School. His death was ruled as an accident, his family asserts there was foul play after they hired a pathologist to determine the cause of death being “unexplained, apparent non-accidental, blunt force trauma”. The investigation can take up to six months.


What I’m Listening To

I didn’t know how much I loved American folk music until I actually started to listen to it. Hip Hop will always be my first love with R&B as a mistress I actively entertain. This folk music though! With my infatuation growing stronger, I happened across the music of Valerie June. Her latest album, The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers has been in heavy rotation for me. Stand out tracks - “Stardust Scattering”, “You and I”, “Call Me A Fool”, “Smile”, and “Two Roads”. You can find Valerie’s music on all digital streaming platforms.

Notables

Based on the 2020 Economic State of the Black America published by the Senate Joint Economic Committee, the typical Black household earns a fraction of White households—just 59 cents for every dollar. The gap between Black and White annual household incomes is about $29,000 per year.


Mistakes make masterful teachers. - Nas