Millennials and the New American Dream: Overcoming Poverty, Police Brutality, and Prejudice

Authors: Donald E. Colley III*, Oklahoma State University
Topics: Urban Geography, Political Geography, Qualitative Research
Keywords: social justice, millennials, social media, activism, young people
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Endymion, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


“Do you believe in the American Dream?” “Fuck no!” This paper focuses on 15 young activists aged 20-40 in San Diego County, CA who have been involved in the social justice scene within the past two years but in many cases for the past six-plus years. The participants are from diverse backgrounds including graduate and undergraduate students, Somali refugees, Two-Spirit Native Americans, proud Chicano-Americans and undocumented immigrants, union workers, and veterans, among others. Despite their differences, one thing became clear: whether the young activists identify as Millennials or not, the American Dream is dead. In their everyday lives, they have been forced to choose between social justice activism and poverty because of low wage labor and booming rent prices; they have become targets or witnesses of police brutality, often times because of their activism; and generally speaking, they suffer from prejudicial behaviors for simply trying to get by. For these young activists, and for many young Americans all over the US known colloquially as Millennials, the American Dream has become a punishment not a prescription for future success.

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