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Reniqua Allen: It Was All A Dream

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In Conversation with Reid Cramer of New America Foundation

Young Black Americans have been trying to realize the promise of the American Dream for centuries and coping with the reality of its limitations for just as long. Now, a new generation is pursuing success, happiness, and freedom -- on their own terms.

In It Was All a Dream: A New Generation Confronts the Broken Promise to Black America, Reniqua Allen tells the stories of Black millennials searching for a better future in spite of racist policies that have closed off traditional versions of success. Many watched their parents and grandparents play by the rules, only to sink deeper and deeper into debt. They witnessed their elders fight to escape cycles of oppression for more promising prospects, largely to no avail. Today, in this post-Obama era, they face a critical turning point.

Interweaving her own experience with those of young Black Americans in cities and towns from New York to Los Angeles and Bluefield, West Virginia to Chicago, Allen shares surprising stories of hope and ingenuity. Instead of accepting downward mobility, Black millennials are flipping the script and rejecting White America's standards. Whether it means moving away from cities and heading South, hustling in the entertainment industry, challenging ideas about gender and sexuality, or building activist networks, they are determined to forge their own path.

Compassionate and deeply reported, It Was All a Dream is a celebration of a generation's doggedness against all odds, as they fight for a country in which their dreams can become a reality.

Reniqua Allen is a journalist that produces and writes for various outlets on issues of race, opportunity, politics and popular culture. She is currently a producer for Fork Films. Her first book, It Was All A Dream: How A New Generation is Navigating the Broken Promise of America, about black millennials and upward mobility is out now from from Nation Books/Hachette. She has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, GuardianQuartz, Buzzfeed, Teen Vogue, Glamour and more, and has produced a range of films, video, and radio for PBS, MSNBC, WYNC and HBO. Reniqua is also completing a Ph.D in American Studies from Rutgers University. Her dissertation looks at how black culture has and continues to engage with the idea of the American Dream. She lives in the South Bronx.

Reid Cramer is director of the Millennials Initiative at New America. Previously, Cramer was the director of the Asset Building program, which aims to promote policies and ideas that significantly broaden access to economic resources through increased savings and asset ownership, especially among lower-income families, and a co-director of New America's Next Social Contract initiative, an effort to examine the delivery of social policy for the 21st century. Prior to joining New America, Cramer served as a policy and budget analyst at the Office of Management and Budget, where he helped coordinate policies on housing, savings, economic development, and program performance evaluation. He has worked for a range of nonprofit housing and community development organizations, the National Research Council, and the Urban Institute. He has a doctorate in public policy from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as a master's degree in city and regional planning from the Pratt Institute and a bachelor of arts degree from Wesleyan University.

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