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The American Dream Remains Deferred for Black Millennials

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “As I entered my 30s, still navigating what achieving the dream would mean, I wondered what other black millennials were feeling. I wanted to figure out what my generation of Black Americans thought about the promise of the American dream and how we can attain it,” said Reniqua Allen, the author of “It Was All a Dream.”

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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The American Dream is described as a national ethos: a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers.

That’s the Wikipedia definition.

For African American millennials, the dream remains deferred – and in some cases, is a nightmare.

“The American Dream, the idea that anyone can succeed through hard work, is one of the most enduring myths in this country. And one of its most prominent falsehoods,”  Reniqua Allen, the author of “It Was All a Dream” wrote in a recent New York Times Op-Ed.

“As I entered my 30s, still navigating what achieving the dream would mean, I wondered what other black millennials were feeling. I wanted to figure out what my generation of Black Americans thought about the promise of the American dream and how we can attain it,” Allen said.

Keli Hammond, the owner and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based B Classic Marketing & Communications and author of “Craved: the Secret Sauce to Building a Highly-Successful, Standout Brand,” said Black millennials have an uphill climb to achieve the American Dream.

“Unfortunately, this is a very true reality. Race is a touchy subject in this country – always has been, always will be,” Hammond said. “It’s funny because, even thought it’s part of our social construct, it’s still incredibly uncomfortable when it’s talked about.”

Hammond, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Advertising from Temple University and a certification in Change Leadership from Cornell University, noted that race has a way of humbling dreams quite fast.

“Although I believe that millennials in general are struggling to identify with the American Dream, for Black millennials it can often feel like a dream you can’t achieve,” she said.

“We weren’t afforded the same job opportunities or raises, we don’t have the same networks, we’re not given the same leeway if we make a mistake, and we don’t have the same access to capital or generational wealth – it’s hard every day,” Hammond said.

In a survey customized exclusively for NNPA Newswire, Branded Research asked 452 African Americans which aspect of the American Dream is most important.

A total of 30 percent said having a comfortable retirement; 21 percent said homeownership; 21 percent said setting up their children for success; 15 percent said owing a business; 7 percent said a college education; and 6 percent said having a nuclear family.

When broken down by gender, 22 percent of men and 34 percent of women said having a comfortable retirement was most important.

Twenty-two percent of men identified homeownership as most important as compared with 21 percent of women.

When broken down by age, 24 percent of those between 18 and 24 identified setting up their children for success was most important and 21 percent of the same age group said having a comfortable retirement and owning a business is paramount.

Twenty-eight percent of African Americans between 25 and 34 identified home ownership as most important followed by setting up their children for success (27 percent); and having a comfortable retirement (19 percent).

Overall, African American consumers are most likely to say that the most important aspects of the American Dream are having a comfortable retirement, homeownership and setting children up for success.

African American women are more likely than African American men to say that having a comfortable retirement is the most important aspect of the American Dream.

Younger African Americans value homeownership, setting up children for success and owning a business while older African Americans value a comfortable retirement most.

“The American Dream isn’t what I strive for [because] my goal is to be successful in my chosen creative path of singing and to travel the world doing that – not to be tethered to a job I don’t like, to pay a mortgage I don’t want in order to live permanently anywhere,” said New York musician Risa Branch.

“I finally paid off my student loans. I want the freedom to be wherever I want to be,” Branch said.

“If I did get the surplus funds to buy a house, I’d rent it out and use the investment to fund a more mobile lifestyle.”

Hammond argued that Black millennials want equality, opportunity and freedom. “We want the same business and home loans, we want the same job offers, we want the same – everything,” she said.

“I’m college-educated, well-read, and well-traveled. I’m a business owner and a homeowner, and even with all of that, I’m keenly aware that I am still very much an underdog,” Hammond continued.

“Freedom means you don’t struggle financially or live paycheck-to-paycheck. Freedom means you’re able to relax sometimes and not worry about all the ways that you have to work to dispel racial myths and stereotypes.”

Bay Area

Oakland Healthcare Unions Denounce CDC and California’s New Guidelines

While federal and California state guidelines now allow healthcare workers who test positive for COVID-19 to return to work without quarantining as long as they are asymptomatic until at least February 1, it’s unclear what this will mean for several Oakland healthcare facilities.

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Oakland Highland Hospital screening tent at the emergency entrance on July 5, 2021. Photo by Zack Haber.
Oakland Highland Hospital screening tent at the emergency entrance on July 5, 2021. Photo by Zack Haber.

By Zack Haber

Two unions representing healthcare professionals have denounced recent moves by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and The California Department of Public Health that have eased, or in some cases temporarily eliminated, quarantining guidelines for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or been directly exposed to the virus.

“Part of why there’s this rise in transmission is that people aren’t quite well and they’re able to come out and mingle with the public,” said Zenei Triunfo-Cortez in an interview. Triunfo-Cortez has worked as a registered nurse for 42 years, and she’s the president of National Nurses United (NNU), a registered nurses’ union with over 175,000 members.

On December 22 of last year, as news that the CDC was considering shortening their COVID-19 quarantine duration guidelines from 10 days to five days was spreading, the NNU published an open letter to the director of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, that urged her to maintain the 10-day quarantine period.

“Weakening COVID-19 guidance now, in the face of what could be the most devastating COVID-19 surge yet,” the letter reads, “will only result in further transmission, illness and death.”

On December 23, the CDC changed their guidelines for healthcare workers. To address staffing shortages, the new guidelines stated that medical facilities could have both vaccinated and unvaccinated healthcare workers who test positive for the virus return to their jobs immediately without quarantining in certain crisis situations as long as they were either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic.

On December 27, the CDC changed their guidelines for the rest of the population, shortening the quarantining period from 10 to five days. The new guidelines stated that as long as a COVID-positive person has no symptoms or their symptoms are resolving and they don’t have a fever, they can end their quarantine on the sixth day.

“The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of [COVID-19] transmission occurs early in the course of the illness,” reads a statement from the CDC about the reduced quarantine guideline, “generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and 2-3 days after.”

In their letter, the NNU pointed to the extremely contagious Omicron variant, and warned “Now is not the time to relax protections.” They mentioned pressure from businesses to maintain profits “without regard for science or the health of employees or the public” as the primary motivation for shortening the quarantine time. The letter included a link to a story about Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian asking the CDC to consider such a change.

Data from Alameda County, and California show that after the Omicron variant of COVID-19 began to become widespread in mid-December, local and statewide cases surged. By late December, average daily case rates were higher than they ever had been before.

Hospitalizations also rose sharply. Then cases and hospitalizations continued to rise through early January and have continued to rise. At the time of publication, information on recent COVID-19 deaths is unclear as the county and the state are updating that data.

“It’s stressful because some of our co-workers might be coming into work sick,” said Sonya Allen-Smith in an interview on January 7 about working under the new guidelines. She’s been an X-ray technologist at a Kaiser Permanente facility in Oakland for 13 years and is a member of the SEIU UHW union for healthcare workers.

“We think about if we’re going to take it home to our families,” she said. “My husband’s immune system is compromised. If I bring it home to him, he definitely will not make it.”

The Oakland Post obtained a flow chart Kaiser e-mailed to their employees on January 7 that guided them through the quarantine process the company required them to enter into if they tested positive for COVID-19.

It showed Kaiser employees had to quarantine for five days and could return on the sixth day if they tested negative for the virus with an antigen test. Allen-Smith said she felt the quarantine period was too short.

“We’re not giving people enough time to heal or recover,” Allen-Smith said. “Weakening the guidelines is not going to stop the staff shortage. It may increase it because people will spread it.”

In an e-mail, Kaiser Permanente’s media team wrote that they’re “implementing CDC and CDHP guidance and isolation with considerations to vaccination status and staffing levels.” It also stated that “all employees coming back or continuing to work, wear the appropriate PPE and follow all infection prevention measures.”

On January 8, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) decided to temporarily adopt the guidance for healthcare workers the CDC had released on December 23 to address staffing shortages at healthcare facilities.

“From January 8, 2022 until February 1, 2022, healthcare professionals who test positive for [COVID-19] and are asymptomatic,” reads their statement announcing the new guidelines, ”may return to work immediately without isolation and without testing.”

The statement also said such returning employees would have to wear N95 masks while working and that these new guidelines could again change as information becomes available.

Both the NNU and the SEIU-UHW unions immediately denounced CDHP’s decision.

“For healthcare workers on the frontline it is very disappointing to see the State of California bypass common sense safety measures,” said Gabe Montoya, an emergency room technician, in a statement SEIU-UHW released. “No patient wants to be cared for by someone who has COVID-19 or was just exposed to it.”

While federal and California state guidelines now allow healthcare workers who test positive for COVID-19 to return to work without quarantining as long as they are asymptomatic until at least February 1, it’s unclear what this will mean for several Oakland healthcare facilities.

When asked for a statement about their Bay Area healthcare facilities, Sutter Health’s media team wrote an email stating: “Consistent with CDC contingency tiered guidelines released in late December, and in response to critical staffing conditions, we have revised our process for how employees who work at patient care sites return after they have been sick with symptoms consistent with COVID-19. It’s important to note that symptomatic employees are not returning to work until their symptoms improve.”

When asked directly if asymptomatic COVID positive employees were currently returning to work, Sutter Health’s media team did not respond.

When asked about their current COVID-19 quarantine policies, Alameda Health System’s media and communications manager Eleanor Ajala wrote “Alameda Health System is reviewing guidance” and that they planned to attend a meeting with the state to discuss the issue.

On January 11, Allen-Smith said she hadn’t heard of any change to Kaiser Permanente’s quarantine policy, but that she knows three co-workers sick with COVID-19 who had just returned after five-day quarantines.

In an e-mail, Kaiser Permanente’s media team wrote that to address staffing shortages they were “employing traveling nurses, adjusting elective and non-urgent surgeries and procedures as needed, and offering our industry-leading telehealth capabilities in addition to in-person care.”

The media team did not directly answer when asked if Kaiser was allowing asymptomatic COVID positive employees to return to the job at Bay Area healthcare facilities.

Allen-Smith is unhappy about the guidelines changing and is unsure if Kaiser’s policy will further change in the near future due to CDHP’s recent announcement.

“A lot of us are confused and sad and just don’t feel safe in the workplace,” she said.

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Advice

Evangelical Technology: The New “E.T.”

In his book, “Branding Faith,” Phil Cooke wrote, “Whatever the purpose, the goal is to win the hearts and minds of the largest audience possible and imprint an indelible story around your church, ministry or mission.” In short Mr. Cooke is saying that how we tell our story and how our story looks, will determine the impact that we will have on a world in need of relevance.

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Curtis O. Robinson, Sr. is the senior pastor at the Faith Church in Oakland, CA. He is also managing director of Global Acquisitions at Nimbus Networks, LLC.
Curtis O. Robinson, Sr. is the senior pastor at the Faith Church in Oakland, CA. He is also managing director of Global Acquisitions at Nimbus Networks, LLC.

By Curtis O. Robinson, Sr., M.A., Resident fellow ’19 Harvard Divinity School

The year was 1982 and Steven Spielberg released the blockbuster movie of the century entitled, “E.T., The Extra Terrestrial.” The movie outgrossed Star Wars and in 1983 grossed more than $359 million in North America and $619 million worldwide. Spielberg was making an estimated $500,000 a day, and the rest was cinematic history.

With the onslaught of the COVID-19 virus, the strain and challenge of presenting a relevant Christ to a culture in need of spiritual balance has been demanding. For the most part, houses of worship have had to close their doors. However, a few have been strategic enough to weather the storm with minimal attendance for in-house worship. So, it is still a daunting task to continue to get the Word of God to a culture desperately in need of spiritual enrichment.

In his book, “Branding Faith,” Phil Cooke wrote, “Whatever the purpose, the goal is to win the hearts and minds of the largest audience possible and imprint an indelible story around your church, ministry or mission.” In short Mr. Cooke is saying that how we tell our story and how our story looks, will determine the impact that we will have on a world in need of relevance.

Enter Nimbus Networks, LLC. Nimbus Networks is a certified solutions provider that creates tailored communications plans for you in collaboration with the world’s leading telecom providers.

We work with over 220 vetted worldwide carriers as a full-service technology consultant, and we have engineers who can help you design, deploy, and maintain your environment. Because no two organizations are the same, we tailor our Cloud, Voice, IT, and other technology services to match your unique requirements.

This is the first in a series of articles that will talk about the importance of having a reliable and robust IT platform. And for churches, we must still engage the world for Christ. It is important that our ET platform is effective and inviting. Stay tuned.

For more information concerning your IT or ET needs, you can reach him at crobinson@nimbusnet.net. You can also visit our website at nimbus-networks.com or you can call 925-285-8357 for a free consultation.

Curtis O. Robinson, Sr. is the senior pastor at the Faith Church in Oakland, CA. He is also managing director of Global Acquisitions at Nimbus Networks, LLC.

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Activism

El Cerrito Hosts 33rd Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade and Rally

The celebration is sponsored by its founders, St. Peter CME Church and the El Cerrito Branch of the NAACP, as well as the Human Relations Commission, and the West Contra Costa County Unified School District.

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“Keeping the Dream Alive - Embracing Our New Normals with Faith, Family, and Community,” is the theme for this year’s celebration.
“Keeping the Dream Alive - Embracing Our New Normals with Faith, Family, and Community,” is the theme for this year’s celebration.

By Clifford L. Williams

The City of El Cerrito invites all of its residents and surrounding cities in the Bay Area to join in its 33rd Annual Community Celebration honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022.

“Keeping the Dream Alive – Embracing Our New Normals with Faith, Family, and Community,” is the theme for this year’s celebration.

The celebration is sponsored by its founders, St. Peter CME Church and the El Cerrito Branch of the NAACP, as well as the Human Relations Commission, and the West Contra Costa County Unified School District.

Event chairperson, Patricia Durham said “this peaceful protest began in 1989 on the back streets of El Cerrito because of the City’s refusal to acknowledge King’s birthday as a federal holiday.

“Members of St. Peter Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME), the City’s only African-American church, and the El Cerrito Branch of the NAACP, in true Dr. King style, took to the streets. The City eventually came around and acknowledged the peaceful and powerful works of Dr. King.”

Durham added, “El Cerrito’s birthday celebration of MLK is one of the longest-standing parades and rallies in the Bay Area.”

Because of the global pandemic, this is the second year the city will have a car parade because of COVID-19 protocols. Participants will meet at 9 a.m. at the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station (in the parking lot of Key Boulevard & Knott Avenue). At 10 a.m., the parade will caravan down San Pablo Avenue to the El Cerrito Plaza BART station and at 11 a.m., the rally will begin. To ensure everyone enjoys the parade safely, all CDC guidelines will be enforced. Masks and social distancing are required.

“Keeping the dream alive even during a pandemic is a necessity,” said Durham. “We are fighting for our democracy and if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s taught us that we need each other to embrace our new normals of survival.”

“The City is expecting more than 100 cars, so we encourage everyone to decorate your vehicles so that yours stands out the best,” noted Durham. “Entertainment will be provided by the Japanese American Citizen League, The Black Cowboy Association, Ujima Lodge #35, the Mardi Gras Gumbo Band, Mighty High Drill Team, Smooth Illusions Band, and El Cerrito’s Poet Laureate, Ms. Eevelyn Janean Mitchell, among other talents.”

The MC of this illustrious event will be Jeffery Wright, president of the El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce. The event’s keynote speaker is Diana Becton, the first female African American to be elected District Attorney in the history of Contra Costa County.

For more information, contact Patricia Durham at (510) 234-2518.

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