WATCH: Defender listens to Houston Black millennials
WATCH: What is the role of millennials in today’s society?

Millennials are the largest generation in U.S. history born between 1980 and 2004. This group is at the center of the economy shaping art, culture, technology and driving trends. But African-American millennials, especially young men, are sometimes stereotyped as dangerous or lazy.

Continuing its listening tour, the Defender recently hosted the Listen & Learn: Millennial Roundtable at The Power Center. During the discussion, the Defender learned how Houston young professionals are shattering negative stereotypes about their generation.

“Our role as African-American millennials is to change the narrative. Media perceives us in a way that is different from who we are,” said roundtable participant Ray Shackelford.

Clyde Jiles, a millennial and the Defender’s strategic alliance manager, facilitated the discussion.

“Our objective for the roundtable was to listen and learn how millennials and the Defender can work together synergistically in terms of tailored news delivery, developing Baby Boomer mentorships, creating social interaction, and engaging in purposeful community involvement. The discussion was phenomenal,” said Jiles.

The millennials asked us to present more editorial content in list format. We’re listening. Here is a list of roundtable highlights:

  • Millennials are an entrepreneurial generation. Tiffany Williams advised millennials to “start building wealth, collaborate and start and support Black businesses.” Similarly, Alexis Herron said millennials should, “create opportunities for themselves and others that look like them.”
  • Millennials drive social media. Our Houston roundtable millennials are strong Instagram and Facebook users. While they had Twitter accounts, they were not as active on that platform. Some felt millennials have “slept on” LinkedIn. “If you want a job or [nonprofit] board position, LinkedIn is where to go,” said Jarren Small. “Woke conversations won’t happen on LinkedIn,” Shar-day Campbell added.
  • Millennials respect the contributions of their elders, but want to do things their own way. Deric Muhammad said millennials are ready to “take the baton and run faster than the previous generation.”
  • Millennials want their mentors to be authentic. “Intimate engagement is what we’re looking for. We want to engage with people who will be real,” Small said.
  • Millennials want to party with a purpose. “Sometimes, the party overshadows the purpose. Make certain the purpose is purposeful. Choose a charity that is relevant. Give to a space where people aren’t giving all the time,” Muhammad said.
  • Millennials get behind causes when they know why they should. Several participants said that they need in-depth information, including stats, on causes and issues before they decide whether to lend their support. “Go to where millennials are and share why something is important,” Herron said.

The Defender plans to collaborate further with this group of professional millennials to help provide them with potential mentors and other resources.

“I relate to this group of millennials,” Jiles said. “As publisher, I purchased the Defender at age 27 and faced many challenges and opportunities. I want to help these young people accomplish their goals and gain the needed access to do what they want to do because I understand where they are coming from.”

“The Defender is thankful to each roundtable participant,” said Engagement Manager Margo Williams Hubbard. “Each young professional shared their authentic views freely while also supporting the points of view of their peers. It was refreshing to hear their unfiltered responses. The Defender staff left the roundtable inspired and proud of this group of millennials who each demonstrate Black excellence in their own unique ways.

“We invite our participants and more Houston area millennials to join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,” Hubbard said. “There, you can also view the videos from the roundtable and let us know your thoughts on the issues.”

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