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10 Things the Media Won’t Tell You About Black Millennials

People seem to be missing out on a lot of information about us while simultaneously “borrowing” our culture. But that’s none of our business ...

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Millennials, those born between 1980 and 1999, are arguably the most misunderstood and the most multidimensional generation. Often derided as lazy, technology crazed and just downright not as successful as our elders, members of Generation Y hardly ever hear good news about ourselves. And of course, black millennials, who have made leaps in education and politics, and have set trends from social media to music, often get the worst of the criticism. But guess what? Young black people in the most talked-about generation don't need your approval. We're doing just fine.

1. Our revolution will be televised—and more:

Title IX advocate Wagatwe Wanjuki; Phil Agnew, executive director, Dream Defenders

Courtesy of Wagatwe Wanjuki; Courtesy of Phil Agnew

Whether it’s working with the Dream Defenders or advocating for Title IX protections, this generation has shown that it will use traditional civil rights strategies and harness all of the modern tools available to it to make change through social activism.

2. We’re making educational leaps:

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The graduation rates for this entire generation are higher than those of the ones that preceded it. Roughly 58 percent of millennials overall will receive a bachelor’s degree, and black millennials are underdiscussed standouts in this group: Those attending certain top, predominantly white colleges have higher graduation rates than their white peers.

3. We run social media:

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Name a social media platform and there’s no doubt that black Gen Yers were the ones to give it the “cool factor.” Roughly 40 percent of black millennials use Twitter, compared with 28 percent of their white peers. Without black millennials, black Twitter wouldn’t exist.

4. Organized religion isn’t our thing:

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Black millennials are leaving organized religion. Overall, roughly 29 percent of millennials are not religiously affiliated.

5. There’s strength in our numbers:

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We make up 14 percent of millennials overall, compared with black baby boomers, who made up 11 percent of their generation.

6. We’re here, and we are very queer:

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About 6 percent of millennials identify as LGBTQ. Of that number, roughly 40 percent are people of color. Black millennials are also more likely to support LGBTQ rights.

7. We don’t have time for mainstream media:

Black Youth Project logo

Courtesy of Black Youth Project

Millennial-based organizations like the Black Youth Project and Elixher run their own news blogs that bring to light the issues they care about most.

8. Our personal is political:

Amara Enyia    

Courtesy of Amara Enyia For Chicago

Millennials like Compton, Calif., Mayor Aja Brown; Stockton, Calif., Councilman Michael Tubbs; and Chicago mayoral candidate Amara Enyia show that members of this generation are making large political inroads.

9. We’re keeping the music industry relevant:

Chance the Rapper performs during June 2014 Firefly Fest in Delaware.

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images 

Whether it’s spearheading the sound of future R&B or ditching music deals to retain artistic control, millennials are changing the music business.

10. America is trying to steal our shine:

Image of Time magazine tweet July 23, 2014, promoting its story on the origin of the slang term “bae.”


Though most of the trends we set get “Columbused,” black millennials have been at the forefront of more than their share of cultural moments. For example, it seems as if we’re the source of nearly every slang term that has made its way into the mainstream lexicon. Think “ratchet,” “sips tea” and “basic.” But that’s none of our business, though.

Editor’s note: This article is part of The Root’s Young, Black, and Viral Weekend. Read more about it here.

Diamond Sharp is an editorial fellow at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.