Millennial Money and Middle Class Dreams…While Black.

I am millennial. And not the tragic millennial you see on the news who still lives with their parents, the kind that also has a car,the kind that also cries a river because they felt duped in pursuing higher education because they could not get a job in the field they attended school for, the kind that has a support system of people who are least in the same boat as them. The kind who parents supported every goal or dream, that kind that spends their money on experiences such as a overseas trips with Instagram worthy photos, not the kind that has money to go to the salon every week, and not the kind that can afford a nice outfit or two because their only bills they paid was their car insurance and student loans.

No, I’m another kind of millennial. The kind who had to leave the nest while still a teenager,the kind that couch surfed until they finally moved into a homeless shelter, the kind that eventually got on their feet but had noticed early on the important role education played in her future and decided to go to school. I have no support or backing and I cannot by any means afford to fail or randomly follow a passion. It’s unfortunately all about making smart decisions so I don’t have to end up homeless again and I’m pissed off. I also feel duped. I am by nature a creative. I’m an artist and designer, and I’m damn good, but so what?

I am a millennial with a savings account at zero. I spent two years finding trying to find and secure a job that has benefits and also gives me over time just in case my 40 hours a week is not enough. I make just enough, but with the cost of living going up in my city. I’m not sure for how long. So, now that I am start of some security in work, I will soon be able to save money. And save I will do because I don’t have a car, I don’t have children, I don’t go out. I spent my money on fast food because I’m a sub-par cook and most recently on Ubers because I’m losing my mind on the two hour commute to work and the two hour commute from work. When it takes 15-20 minutes in a car!

But truth be told, I’m scared. And As my neighborhood was a safe refuge from the violence I witnessed all too often. Within four years my neighborhood has become so gentrified the neighborhoods corner store, barbershop, barbecue joint, and Karaoke bar was gone, and the mixture of shades I once saw in my neighborhood became just one shade. White. Heaven forbid I take out the trash, I’m getting mad stares. Heaven forbid I go to target to buy conditioner I’m being watched on both sides of the self checkout lane by staff (while on camera). New luxury condos have been erected so much that I barely recognize the neighborhood I once knew. I sometimes do a double take and wonder “”What street am I on?”.

Rent constantly has gone up everywhere. Nearly all places requiring you to make 2.5 times the rent per month, and even with good credit, rental history, and a job more places are saying “No”. So, I stay here in my semi decent one bedroom for as long as I can and begin to save as long as I can while I continue to pursue higher education.

Next semester I will be graduating with my Masters degree and hopefully next Fall I will be pursing my Masters to eventually my PHD. People can tell me that I’m reaching for the stars and trying to achieve too much, but I really don’t care because as a black woman I’m taught to work twice as hard for half the pay and none of the praise. I remember getting star reviews and praises and being passed over for someone usually white because they have a bachelors degree in history or philosophy or some shit.. Nothing relative to the job and while I trained them to work over me. I will have my degree, I plan on paying for most of it out of my pocket due to an awesome program they just began at my job that will pay majority of your tuition.

Even with that, I wonder if I will ever reach the dream of owning a home, having a gently used car, meeting a guy and making a family. Was this really attainable in a climate that is offering only part time work with no benefits? in a world that is pushing working class and lower middle class renters out of their places? in a world that increased the prices of food, thrift store clothes, and entertainment?

We’ll see.

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