Study: Black millennials, Gen-Zers believe in the American Dream

New research done by Echelon Insights reveals that millennials and Generation Z believe that the “American Dream” is possible and are heavily optimistic about the future. Sixty-six percent of the Black millennials and Gen Z’ers surveyed say they have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.

“They want to see a better future for all of us and themselves. So how do we continue to tap into their ingenuity, their creativity and really bring them as partners to help us shape a better future that is in the best interest of all of us.”

The Echelon Insights, commissioned by the Walton Family Foundation, conducted the study amid two pandemics – COVID-19 and systemic racism. The report included insights from more than 4,000 respondents, ranging in age from 13 to 23 for Generation Z, and 24 to 39 for millennials. The study’s goal was to unveil how young Americans think about their futures, what they want out of life, and what they fear will stand in their way.

“This study is helping to lift up their voices in a world with so much media coverage about all of the bad stuff that they’re facing,” Kristen Soltis Anderson, Republican pollster, TV personality and writer who conducted the survey and analyzed the results, says.”

“This provides some backing to the idea that they nonetheless intend to persevere and be persistent and have hope, and intend to bring about change.”

Although Black Americans are optimistic about their futures, 60% of Black millennials and Gen Z’ers report that racial inequality is a significant problem. The Black participants also pointed out that there are substantial obstacles in achieving the American Dream than whites. These obstacles include the lack of access to health care, the cost of higher education, and, most notably, racial inequality.

Gen-Zers

“This survey really underscores that they are engaged, they do care, they’re aware of the barriers they face, and they are ready to meet the challenge, overcome them and build a brighter future,” Anderson emphasizes.

Throughout the study, millennials and Gen Z’ers were also asked to describe their generation in three words. The common consensus for millennials was revealed to be “resilient”, “persistent”, and “entrepreneurial,” while Generation Z described themselves as “conscious”, “innovative”, and “outspoken.”

Alaina, a study participant, states, “I am a millennial, but I would have to say we are an adaptable generation. I chose adaptable because our generation has seen a lot of change and many events.”

Anderson unpacks these findings to mean that millennials understand that “We faced a lot of stuff. And we’ve tried our best to be creative, to overcome it, to get around it, in order to press forward.”

For Gen-Z, she identifies that they prefer “the idea of rather than having to adapt to the tough world that they’re facing, they’re just going to change that world. They’re going to speak out about what they want to see differently, and they’re going to push for change.”

Gen Zers
A general view of “Hidden Figures” viewing at Spelman College.

theGrio spoke with Yordanos Eyoel, a partner at New Profit, a venture philanthropy organization that backs breakthrough social entrepreneurs advancing equity and opportunity in America. After reviewing the results of the study, she was intrigued by the balance between recognizing the harsh reality and maintaining hope for the future.

“I think it’s inspiring to see that even in the face of the multiple crises that we face as a country, that young people articulate so clearly that there is a sense of hope,” Eyoel said.

Eyoel also emphasizes that the report is a call-to-action that we need to address and reduce the barriers highlighted in the study, such as climate concerns, economic mobility, health care, and education inequalities instilled in our systems.

“They want to see a better future for all of us and themselves. So how do we continue to tap into their ingenuity, their creativity and really bring them as partners to help us shape a better future that is in the best interest of all of us.”

To see the full study click here.

-The Griot