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It Was All a Dream

A New Generation Confronts the Broken Promise to Black America
Narrated by: Shayna Small
Length: 12 hrs and 17 mins
Categories: History, American
4.5 out of 5 stars (21 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Young Black Americans have been trying to realize the promise of the American Dream for centuries and coping with the reality of its limitations for just as long. Now, a new generation is pursuing success, happiness, and freedom - on their own terms.

In It Was All a Dream, Reniqua Allen tells the stories of Black millennials searching for a better future in spite of racist policies that have closed off traditional versions of success. Many watched their parents and grandparents play by the rules, only to sink deeper and deeper into debt. They witnessed their elders fight to escape cycles of oppression for more promising prospects, largely to no avail. Today, in this post-Obama era, they face a critical turning point.

Interweaving her own experience with those of young Black Americans in cities and towns from New York to Los Angeles and Bluefield, West Virginia, to Chicago, Allen shares surprising stories of hope and ingenuity. Instead of accepting downward mobility, Black millennials are flipping the script and rejecting White America's standards. Whether it means moving away from cities and heading South, hustling in the entertainment industry, challenging ideas about gender and sexuality, or building activist networks, they are determined to forge their own path.

Compassionate and deeply reported, It Was All a Dream is a celebration of a generation's doggedness against all odds, as they fight for a country in which their dreams can become a reality.

©2019 Reniqua Allen (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"In her revelatory new book, It Was All a Dream, Reniqua Allen amplifies voices that America needs desperately to hear. She explores the lives of Black millennials who strive for success - or sometimes basic survival - with insight, empathy, and candor. Pinned between the unfinished business of the civil rights movement and the economic, political, and racial rifts of the post-Obama era, their stories are both heartbreaking and hopeful, the pent-up demand of a new generation demanding what has always been its right: liberation." (Jessica Bruder, author of Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century)

"Reniqua Allen's must-read book takes us beyond the statistics and stereotypes, telling the stories of young Black Americans who are creating, working, fighting, loving, and surviving. Allen's vital and empathetic reportage shares their voices - and we would be wise to listen." (Heather McGhee, Former President and Distinguished Senior Fellow, Demos)

"Reniqua Allen strikes a fine balance between the personal histories of ambitious Black millennials and the systems in place that threaten their mobility. With acute detail to their location, background, and motive, Allen's sharp journalistic skills are center stage, crafting reportage, cultural commentary, and personal anecdotes into a thought-provoking book that will add to our discussions about race, capitalism, education, and self-actualization." (Morgan Jerkins, author of This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America)

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Great statistics and facts


I think the author does a great job in presenting facts and statistics to make several point of the many theories that she writes about as well as showing contradictions of the truth about what is often misrepresented in media and general mass printed research. However, apart from the facts presented what would the average “black/African American” learn from reading this book, a result of the author’s PhD work? Threaded throughout are doom and gloom perspectives of various people’s lives surrounding the black tropes we have all heard and experienced at some point but I don’t see a distinction of the broken promises and what these are—-which the title of this book promises. I am lost. Very negatively presented but great facts are presented.

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Bullseye Testimony

The author is speaking with so much vulnerable honest truth I couldn't put it down. Stories that would usually go untold are being brought forth eloquently. As a black millennial professional, I can relate so closely to the anxiety of regarding and trying to fit in into the corporate world. I am hanging in there by a thread and honor the little hope I have left with courage from this book.

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A true inspiration!

This masterpiece stirs the soul. It's a wake-up call that resounds from the inside out!