tv After Words Reniqua Allen It Was All a Dream CSPAN January 13, 2019 9:00pm-10:02pm EST
>> here's the book, the fourth age, smart robots, conscious contributors in the future of humanity. the authors byron reese. thank you for being with us. >> thank you so much. >> cspan where history unfolds daily. 1979 cspan was pope created as a public service by america's cable tv. we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress. the supreme court, and public policy events in washington, d.c. and around the country. cspan is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. next combo tv "after words", reineke what alan examines whether the american dream is attainable today, she is interviewed by danielle belton as aaron chief of the root. with relevant guest host top fiction authors about their
latest work. >> hi reineke well how are you,. >> i'm awesome how are you. >> good this is an exciting day and you have an amazing book, it was all a dream, it is so hard to just go into the lyrics that you see but i don't to us about the speed the main thing about your book is that is all about the american dream and how this did become a dream for many black millennial's and how they are coping with it steve can you tell me just a little bit about why the american dream has become something of a dream for black millennial's. >> i think that for so long young black people growing up, particularly young black people like myself, who had the idea that you could be anything and do anything. that is what we are told us kids. i grew up in the post- civil
rights moment. we saw black people in television, their black folks being married in governors, jesse jackson was running for president. this was the time over was on television. in the time where it seemed like things are possible. there were errors rodney king, and my own community a young man was shot by a police officer, but largely i think it was a time like things seemed like they were looking for black people. and that the american dream maybe was possible. my parents and our parents were the first real generation to benefit from things like affirmative action, they were benefiting from the civil rights legislation of the 60s, many were owning homes, entering corporate america at higher rates than ever. things started to seemed like they were looking up.
the american dream was potentially possible for black america. probably for the first time in many, many years. it just seemed like it all fell apart. barack obama got nominated for president of course and then our political climate has totally changed. so for me it was the idea that the american dream maybe is possible for black americans, and maybe it wasn't created for us that this idea that you can do better than your parents, if you just work hard enough it doesn't matter. but it just doesn't seemed like that is actually the reality, even now. that is really profoundly disappointing thing. at least for me. another thing, about the title, to me growing up listening to rap and hip-hop, it was another
moment where it felt like things were possible. wrappers, whether you like it or not, a lot of people don't, but they were out there throwing around dollar signs, a kid from ben stay which is not the bedside today at all but could turn into this rapper in his early 20s. in the world would listen. and that was a tremendous thing for me to see jay-z on yacht. it felt like dreams could be realized. and that is hard for me to it deal with. and that is why i set out to write this book. >> you touch on awkward mobility. this is the idea that the american dream that we can do better than our parents.
when i found that inspecting in your book is that you outlined even though the american dream in many respects was not made for african-americans in mind, more african-americans can believe in especially black millennial's, why do you think there's still disbelief and then i'm going to obtain this upward mobility that is quite difficult if you don't have generational wealth, which many blacks don't. can you elaborate a bit on that. >> that is like the craziest thing to me. like seeing white millennial's the people that attain the dream the most, they didn't believe in the american dream is much but then you have these young black millennial's more than any other group, more than latino, more than asian millennial's and they had hope and faith. and i don't know why, i think the black community at large and i want to include the entire community, the one thing that constantly sticks out about black millennial's is that they are highly religious. , or spiritual. i think there is a sense of hope
in the black community. there is a continuous spread. i can understand why. things have been so profoundly bad for the black communities since we are brought here basically. folks immigrated as well but they have been pretty bad for the black community. we haven't got the same treatment. you can see how they treated the first black president. exam not been equal. it is been disastrous for us. so to think that we don't have much more than hope. that is the only kind of explanation that we have to have something to hold onto. other ways will shrivel up and die, that is being dramatic but i think hope is profound way, it's a survival skill. because it is so little to hold onto sometimes. >> speaking of that hope, one story that stood out to me in the book was that of a young man that had over hundred thousand
dollars. in student loan debt. now i am in the minority, i was very fortunate that i did not have student loan debt when i finish college. >> lucky you. >> and made a huge difference in my life. i can't say enough, because that came with a head start. some people over generations have not had. >> so you talk a little bit about and you touch on the book where college might not be the ideal task. but it is been sold to us as black people the education is our way out. when it indicates for so many millennia most has been an anchor. >> yes, it this is a problem that is in particularly unique to black millennial's but we think we feel it more because we have that less historical wealth or that cushion to fall back on. and when we do get jobs we make less money.
i really consistently questioned education in this book particularly college education because i saw so many young black millennial's having college as a goal and failing and falling behind. in student dentist made their lives absolutely miserable. and more often than not they enter college but they were able to finish. black millennial's also are one of the largest groups that actually start college but don't finish. or they don't go to the school that they want to because of financial reasons. so really impact young black people, and i think that america, hiding grumpiness america but i will say her parents generation had a different reality. they didn't have to go to college. if you meet a small perfect percentage of mount small amount of americans go to college and finish it and i think that we
don't understand that as a people. and you shouldn't have to go to college to have a happy life, to have healthcare in your basic necessities. i think a generation ago you could go out and get a job in a factory and you could have dashed you can send your kids to college, you can buy a home. and that is not possible anymore. we all don't have to be some kind of intellectuals. i really been questioning college as a goal. i don't know necessarily because more jobs than ever do require degrees but people of color largely are not always getting some of those jobs, it seems like college is a really tough decision for many people.
it feels accessible in some ways more than ever for young people of color. but then inaccessible because they're taking on the student debt, their jobs are paying off and i am not sure what the answer is. i don't think the college degree has to be the answer to mobility. and that's what it sees that the older generation is telling us, that is our way out. it seems like there should be multiple avenues to moving out. so to speak. exact. >> exactly. i didn't know that not going to college was an option. unlike many black children who grew up with parents who had college degrees and saw the opportunity was forced to themselves because they went to colleges or black college universities. and so they really put that pressure on their kids. like this is the way out, this is why you're gonna do better than me, this is where you're going to experience this upward mobility that is saved us for
generations. but then you reference in your book, you reference the bush administration, and all that is wiped out in the housing crisis. and what little wealth our parents and grandparents were able to obtain was lost in the housing crisis. and you write quite a bit about, you have a whole section about history of homeownership. can you elaborate a little bit on the black millennial approach to this housing crisis affect and in new york city. >> it is hard. black millennial's have one of the lowest rates of homeownership. that is just upsetting in itself. and i know everyone will say millennial's are buying homes. but if you look at the number of white millennial's, they age. and they are buying homes. they are completing that later in life. even though it is difficult particularly in these big cities. i think that black millennial's, the thing that i heard the most
there were lots of folks ended up homeless with their parents. just tremendous amount of people who saw their parents completely wiped out. by the housing crisis. that was a really big thing for a number of the millennial's in my book and that sours their thoughts on ownership. i had a different experience with homeownership for me that was like a really important and vital part to me coming of age and probably totally misguided on the older side of the millennial generation, and in 2005 that was before the housing crisis and so i didn't see a crash. my parents, my mom had a house and a lot of my family owned homes so that wasn't my burden growing up we always had homes, homes were expected as much as a college degree.
but i was totally misguided, and i think it was this idea that ownership society that george bush was spouting. but this idea when you look at the american dream that homeownership is kind of fundamental to be an american it is a fundamental part of the american dream and i think black folks buy into that largely as well and i don't know why i bought into the idea so much. it was like i need to own this home, i need to be an american i need to prove some worse. obviously looking back i think i was very misguided. but i wanted to feel like i was a part of society. that i was doing something. so i bought a home in 2005, not the right time. >> 0 my goodness. how is that been for you. >> so that did not work out. for reasons that one, i don't
want to say that i was totally financially misguided. i was not, i was told i got an adjustable-rate that so many people got and i had really good credit, i was making 20 8,000 dollars a year when i bought the home it was a condo, one bedroom a condo in the suburbs of new jersey, but i also knew my income was going to increase student was a production assistant who started out pretty low and your salary is pretty moves a pretty out quickly when you put in a few years. i double my income and then it goes from there. but the thing that was hard for me, the one thing that was significant was that i bought in this neighborhood of england new jersey on the east hill which was the which is on the hill that african-americans were locked out of. i bought into the white side of the town. where my mom was arrested, pulled over by police officers
in the 60s it was an area that was known to not be friendly for blacks and they certainly didn't buy in that area in the 50s and 60s, they group in the area i grew up in. it meant something to me to it be able to move to the east hill of inglewood. that was a special moment and may be that too would i was misguided. i still kind of struggle why i bought there. some of it i thought the property values were better, but i chose to buy in this neighborhood. that was one thing and that in itself also felt an accomplishment for me in my family. it felt like we had arrived in some way, in addition to homeownership it was also the area i chose but the other thing that was frustrated with me you owning a home was that a couple years i got out of an inducible loan was making more than enough money, refinance got into a conventional loan but then a few
years after that i got a letter saying that i might've been targeted by my mortgage company because of my race and that was a hard thing for me. gutfeld like a failure. more than anything else in homeownership. it just felt like an absolute failure it felt like the american dream, whatever it was, and filled me. and it sucked. >> i can imagine your topic made me think about something in the book, called the truck, that basically american society is institutionalizing rates in coburn covert when they pop up when you least expect and when you're expecting at all times the idea that this dream isn't meant for us, but it's always unseen ways that you could fail or fall or stumble. so you outline some of the interesting stories of people who would like to but end up in
prison. the great opportunities but end up or try to find alternative needs whether it was a street or work to get their piece of the american dream. can you speak a little bit about that. >> it is hard. i think that there is less room for failure. there is less room for screwing up. it doesn't matter what area you are in. it could be corporate america, it can be actors, and actresses in hollywood. it is clear to me that you have to be everything almost perfectly. and that is a sureties recipient if you don't then you get caught up in the cycle where you can't get out of it into repeating and repeating and feeling and trying to crawl your way out and it's impossible. the one real story that sticks out with this young man who got
arrested in the bronx for riding a bike. it was some ridiculous arrest. he ended with a ticket in a court date and was thrown into jail for eight days and didn't have $500, which is a lot of money for some people. to bail himself out. he got bailed out by a nonprofit called the defender, the bronx defenders. it's a great group. and waited, and waited, and waited for court dates after court dates, they got pushed back, in the meantime yet eight days out of his job so he got fired. and then after that he tried to get a job but now in his record it is a felony listed. it is listed as he is still waiting for court date but it is still an open case. and who wants to hire a young black man with his open court case of a felony. he was never given the benefit of the doubt four years he had
to try to piece together his life. turns out he didn't do it and everything got wiped off his record. but it was two years of him being set back from life struggling to feed his child, it is heartbreaking to me, it shows how you completely be encouraged, he could've took in a plea for something he didn't do to get out, or he could've turned to some kind of illicit activities which some people do because what else do you do if all the other legal means have turned their backs on you. it is frustrating place and i see it in story after story, whatever it is i think it is set up for failure. and unlike many generations of the past i think the hard thing for us is that you do so with barack obama being president, or
its array, or there's so much black success but we don't really realize how much an anomaly that still is. >> i think a lot of people think it's still so tangible that you should be able to touch and grasp it. lisa ray started out with her web theory, now she is on hbo and a cover girl. you see this upward mobility of examples of his success and think why not me. why can't this happen for me. tell us about why the reasons why this is like in a logical way to go about it. when you see success in thinking there is going to be a direct path to that type of success. >> she works so hard to get to where she is but there should be
way more routes than there are but there's not. power, a lot of times we don't have access. you see all these faces, i shouldn't say all, you see some faces out here but when you look at the numbers, particularly in hollywood, i was shocked by this, of who actually controls television and films, it's something like 93 or 94% of studio executives in film and television are white. and that is unbelievable to me in this country. that is not reflective of what the society looks like. we are not even talking about other people of color, this is white folks. in largely white men i should say. and so i think that they have a hard time. people have a hard time people like stories that they can see themselves in. and it might be harder to do if you are white executive to see yourself reflected into the story. they are there. if you aren't familiar with
these folks, with these people of color in their lives in their communities, i think it is harder for you to relate. people like stories that they can relate to and is just horrible, horrible, horrible at that. i just can address it enough and it's unbelievable, the thing that i read, people love to talk about the visa millennial's. obviously privilege, what have you but i read this in a dude that she wrote a one-page page two hbo, she had a movie that she did before. but a one page pitch, i cannot fundamentally thinking about young black kid getting away, she said it was not a great pitch, she said it was half written. i can't imagine anyone doing that to hbo. we don't have the benefit of the doubt that i think the young of
white people do. you can't go into a room with a crumbled up hoodie done like mark zuckerberg and if we get in we don't get shot with hoodie on anyway. we don't get that benefit of the doubt. i think that is the thing that is frustrating. it's attainable but we had to be so on point all the time and even when we are on point that still doesn't help. so i think that hopefully things are starting to change because there are more women, women of color in general and more black people in positions of power but i still really hard i think because it's our fear to make the hiring decisions. it's one thing to have a black face on television or in the movies, but it is great to have blake. there in the theaters. but who are the videos executives, those are not largely people that look like me. >> one thing when you brought up
wayne o'donovan. i want to talk about what you mentioned in your butt about white mediocrity. as you said she turned into a one page pitch and it wasn't well written and cheerily done one pill before this. chad lots of advantages going for her. one way or the other, people often argue the bliss of her talent. you were just saying about how black people often have to be exemplary and is not just good enough to to show up. and i have often said what is going to be the true definition of the equality in this country when the mediocre white black people can be just as successful as a mediocre white people. not everybody can be this bright shining star can you speak a little bit about particular issue. >> i want to see a black donald trump be president. i really do. barack obama, take his politics
aside, he has a gold standard. you can be president look at her barack obama. [inaudible] >> you know donald trump for his failings or the pros, he speaks in a way that is more accessib accessible. i think people can relate, i know he is rich in a league but that is an example of mediocrity me i want us to be able to, he is messy, his wife is messy, he
is on his third wife, he is baby mama -- i've never heard anyone, lonnie l baby mama, no one is making fun of her body. routinely misspell things on media, on twitter, he's inarticulate, and i don't know anybody like that that is at that level who can be like that an african-american. there's so much of a burden on us to be perfect. and that is also exhausting. i want us to be mediocre and thrive. and we're definitely not affording that opportunity. maybe there's one or two that you know but we are not afforded that. there is another reason why i
decided to write this book. i saw people at the same level as me talking about how they got see grades in college or i was drunk the whole time and i slid in or my dad wrote this recommendation. i didn't hear that from the black students. in young men and women that i talk to. they did not have those kind of opportunities. they also had to be damn near perfect. and that is hard. that is a burden on us and i think people from all generations in all colors don't understand the stress of it all. >> speaking on to perfection. you talk a bit about relationships in the book in one of your chapters about love and dating. when i talked other young black people that we are looking for things to be perfect in order, i need to have this type of job, i
need to have this type of environment that i'm in. one of the young women that you interviewed, it was a young man named richard. he happens to be gay and talked about how class even came up in his daily life. and how he would talk to people like you you are out there trying today, i'm trying to date somebody upper-middle-class. can you speak a little bit on that. >> richard is an amazing person. and really fascinating. he really touched on something that i think we don't talk about a lot. and talk about the importance in the mobility of relationships and how crucial that is. and i know richard was in new york city, new york is a hard place and everybody is trying to be at the next level or present a certain way, and most of us can't actually do that. and richard really talked about how he felt like he wanted to show that he had made it. he wanted to to have that
reflected in his relationship and how important class was. but he also talked about how he had only date for working-class people. because they could relate to him more. i totally understand that. because of the struggles i think are sometimes different. even though the angle might be the same. but you look at the statistics and people to similar incomes, similar in education levels, often do better than particularly black women. they are known to date people with lesser incomes or lesser degrees. in many of the statistics show that you don't always do as well if you had a partner with similar income. i don't know what the answer or solution is to that because black relationships, classes
important but there are so many other things in respect with why we want to have these perfect relationships. we do get penalized for not having the perfect relationship. but there are so many other facts, people are incarcerated, that is a big thing, you have student debt, so for us to get to that point to that mental's base rate can share your life and be with somebody else. ..
equally hard to say as a black woman. it creates this weird dynamic between black men and women and you talk about mass incarceration playing a role and is available in the market and speaks back to the track where people fall into the track and fall off the dating pool as far as people are concerned on that. i came back after being in washington, d.c. i think many if
community and at the same time we are trying to look at our own relationships, i think there is a pressure if you are those few people that can manage to get a degree tha then you are expecteo date someone you don't want to date the guy that was in jail and that is a way of thinking also in our professional lives and financial lives and personal lives because of a man, woman what havand what have you and ti think i talked about this we are supposed to date a barack obama or michelle obama and have that same dynamic that they have a.
it is a little hard. speaking of new york, a lot of people of color are leaving new york and you mentioned that in your book about this new migration towards the south end of the west coast it was the be-all end-all for me of the dream. we were there, little kim, foxy brown, it's the place where you want to make it and sends it happened when i came of age a big part moved to the south and it felt like the heart of black culture because my dad is these
are the only things that are rooted with black culture, black american culture wasn't there and moved to the south. new york city, brooklyn, harlem, they are not what they look like anymore. they are unaffordable for so many black people to buy homes. so i think that was part of the problem is the financial needs and there's also a cultural movement that's fascinating to me about the people i spoke with it wasn't necessarily fully economic though the ability was a big thing for a lot of the millennialist and this idea that constantly shows up over and over again.
they are largely countryfolk. we didn't come from these cities that we are a countryfolk sum up that i understood. it was something about being from the south and being around other black people. i think about reclaiming a space that was ours and was a reason so many people were drawn to it but i think that's how the place that captivated it for me because i have such an interesting relationship it is a place of pain and memory and it's interesting to talk to people because i don't get it in
the same way you do. i love dc and it's a great place to be but i know they will say it's not the south but that's as far south as i had ever lived, and i understand people were drawn to it and were thriving in the south, and south, and i cof get it after going. speaking with them and seeing the connection to home. it's something i feel uprooted. they are from florida and south carolina. i can't say my ancestors lived there and we can't go back centuries and centuries and stay my great-grandfather came on the mayflower but we can say he lived in a shack so to speak, it
they are so prominent in the imagination i look every time i visit the south and instead of the feeling of freedom and comfort it doesn't feel so distant i like you thought people are so drawn to it but to the opportunity and the community that exists that the same time we have most african-americans didn't reflect voted overwhelmingly democrat,
so i am wondering how does one reconcile the fact someone like tom appeals to the south and is it worth the fact that it's over with. >> the closest thing i can get to election night the 2016 in the union square which is a pretty progressive part of the city. during this era they are a bunch of trump supporters that say they can make america great again. there are supporters there which shocks me. they are everywhere. this place is not so unique. i still have a relationship with the upper east side and going
into barney's, i was in bloomingdale a few days ago and it felt like there were eyes on me. some of it is anxiety. it's not so great. that's how i reconcile. everywhere it's terrible. there are some areas we didn't even know existed for decades. it's a horrid city -- hard city where those spaces are often
times together sometimes even on the same block together it feels like we are more integrated than we are because we don't interact with each other. there is like the black harlem professionals. i can't reconcile that and i think in the south they can talk about it more. i think the south is better acknowledging that.
a lot of america is quite segregated. there's this idea that it was somehow better for that isn't the case at all. it is something that positively impacts how they get better jo jobs. there was somehow an active movement to keep us out and there was a huge thing that brought them into the middle class we have to think about and that is a very learned thing in housing particularly like i said in the neighborhood i grew up in
that was the black section of town. i think i need those reminders. i didn't grow up on that. my relatives certainly were not treated like my relatives in the south and they seem happier. >> host: something that came up in your book, you wrote in the chapter about being pigeonholed by gender and some
commented that it was a cross reference that is absurd. how often do these issues around identity and gender, up? >> guest: i think for most people it sometimes wasn't a focus i think maybe halfway into the conversation she spoke to me that she identified and it's something that was important i think that it wasn't necessarily in a lot of times people were
trying to unpack the intersections so yes that might have been part but there is also the race part or class part and that's where we focus a lot and i don't know unless we were talking about something like a relationship we didn't want that to be a focus of conversation, though i do think that they definitely impact mobility particularly who was identified in the same way they really have a hard time getting jobs or healthcare so i don't want to downplay that. those kind of things came up when we talked about opportunity in particular but i tried not to
stay in that space. he said i'm also these other things and i think that was an important point for me to learn we don't have to be defined by these one things about us coming and i think this was a really great example of doing that, of acknowledging it, and it is interesting becauswasinterestins very accepting and other people whose families were not as accepting played a big role in their lives and i let people decide how much of a role they want to play in their lives because everyone sees the identity as something different. like to me race is a big part and being a woman, being a black woman.
i liked the weight of the identity kind of drive the story. >> i think about my parents idea of what success is and you talk about creating their own definition of success, can you speak on that a little bit of this >> guest: decanted the traditional way like we did in the past. it may not look like being in a kind of traditional. it's certainly not like 20 years of the same employer, and that's fine. like my parents, my mom, it is
that traditional. it can mean freedom, happiness, getting what you want, it can be poor but being able to get up and blog every day, being able to write or be on instead telling your story defining what that's like. sometimes it is similar and sometimes it is different and the ideas that we need freedom. we need to be ourselves and that's where maybe sexuality and gender play that we don't want to be boxed into this dream that
wasn't for us that we didn't create. we want to define our own dreams and our own lives and i think they are pushing back on that. you know, i can be happy in a home. we can define that in our own ways. in a relationship i want to be in love and be happy to. or doing sex work and liking it and nothing is wrong with that so i think that we are trying to push the boundaries of redefining what some american dreams may mean.
consistently we define what our dreams are and i think that this generation is doing fine. >> host: it's important for black americans to do as you outlined in your book the standard belief you talked about having a perfect job and perfect life. out of the people you spoke to for this book how were they able to let go and look beyond a standard is in america to find their own happiness?
>> i don't think there is any other way. there's a "new york times" article months ago that said even middle-class black man can't hold onto the dream. particularly in this generation part of i that is there is no other choice to find themselves. it's a society thaif a society d them to thrive in the way they either wanted to or that they saw they were expected to. but i also think what's different is there is an understanding of okay america is
treated in a certain way and we know we are not going to take part in that and that's okay we are going to do something else so i think it's that kind of work. being told that they are less than, women in the classroom getting accepted into that being okay and charlottesville, i think all these things force us to look at the dream. but there is something about seeing the embodiment of the dream and the way that played out and what happened after.
that forced us to say look at what happened to the embodiment of success in the white house, and now look at who is elected president. that forced us to take a look and say i thought there was change and hope that it's actually the same america. it's not as much as so much of f us put stock into. young kids i spoke to from texas said i thought that was barack obama things were going to be better but in fact they are not, and the test forced us to take a good hard look because getting to the presidency, if not success, that should have been
different. can you speak about what the black millennial stink in opposition of what people think of? >> guest: we don't have that much power. like when the home ownership rates are the same as they were the housing market is telling us more. i think it is in a profoundly different space and i should say some of the pieces of commentary on the millennial's overall is to be liberal, entitled, overeducated i should say this but the white millennial population either. it's largely people of color. it's not black-and-white comics asian, hispanic. like a lot of of our experiences are the same but we are also
unique and that is often at the bottom of the list. so how are we unique? the criminal justice system as other millennial set color it is at the bottom of time. i've heard millennial say well i don't know, if they're here is this certain way like they don't represent others as well. i think we do live in different realities. the world sees us in different ways. there is a privilege to being white and sometimes another
millennial. the privilege we don't speak about it much to being may be african. i've spoken to a lot of african millennial star black and they talk about having immigrant parents and a different experience. i think there's a difference. we need to acknowledge that and it's hard for this generation to see that sometimes because we are in the same classrooms and there is this relationship more than ever. sometimes our parents are of different races because we have these experiences and that is just a hard thing for america to see and just being not be as blatant things. charlottesville was one thing
that another if people questioning for you are. that is a hard thing to take everyday. i've had black men talk about how when they walk into a store they have to take their hat do down. those are the subtle differences you can just walk around there is a lack of freedom and that is the dream i would like to see that there is a freedom it's in this existence in some ways but then there's other things that limit us.