As society continues to integrate at levels never before seen, Black youth culture is developing in dynamic ways. We are communicating more effectively, and are embracing mediums that were once unavailable to us.
Hip hop is a telling example of our expansive interests. Following the untimely deaths of Biggie and Tupac, hip hop morphed into a corporate enterprise which mainstreamed Black culture. A diverse class of hip hop artists offered a soulful variety of poetic expression. Stunning examples include Jay Z, Nas, OutKast, Kanye West, Ludacris, and Nelly.
The popularity of hip hop soon led to its downfall. The unfortunate burgeon of molly music encapsulated an art form that once served as a beacon of soulful creativity. Eventually, Black millennials had enough; we demanded more of the hip hop industry. We demanded talent. And soon, we were graced with Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Wale, and Drake.
I call these rappers the New School of Hip Hop. Young souls trying to become legends through mastering the delicate balance of simple fun and lyrical genius. These Black millennials are working within an fluctuating system, and are redefining the rules as they go through it. As J. Cole said in Let Nas Down “Labels are archaic/formulaic with their outcomes.” The New School is redefining how rap music is marketed, produced, and packaged, and the powers that be are listening.
Black millennials are particularly savvy to social media. We use these forums as a way to share our isolated stories, and weave them into a collective fabric of experiences. I particularly enjoy the community of blerds, self-proclaimed Black nerds who enjoy the spoils of technology, science-fiction, politics, history, and other nerdy things.
New websites are launching to bring this disparate group of young people together. Black Girl Nerds being one of them. Webseries like Awkward Black Girl poke gentle fun at being a blerd lifestyle, and Twitter is a constant meeting space for us blerdy folks.
Black millennials are embracing other forms of recreation that were once closed to us. Given the drastic rise in college attendance and completion in the last decades, Black millennials are engaging in international travel. We are constantly stimulated by educational resources. We are marketable in the workforce. Our college experiences are propelling us to new heights.
And what’s more… we are rejecting our historical caricatures. We were (and to some extent, still are) perceived as a violent group. We were vilified by most, and victimized by others. Our stories were overshadowed by uneven depictions of our criminality.
And we stopped making excuses for it all. We are better able to comprehend our experiences and the historical ramifications that are beyond our control, while still taking responsibility for our actions.
We are holding ourselves to higher standards.
The Black millennial is the embodiment of the Renaissance. A diverse group of young people who accept our culture and ethnic makeup in an inclusive manner translatable to other ethnic groups.