Tag Archives: millennial

A Look Back: the Making of a Stronger Orlando

By: Megan Lanier

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Orlando. The City Beautiful.

I never truly understood the meaning of the city slogan until a week ago.

Orlando has never been more beautiful. Sadly, the catalyst for this profound beauty was a sudden jolt of tragedy, anger and despair. Never has an event like the Pulse Nightclub shooting affected me so deeply. Every day, we turn on the news to hear of murder in our cities and war in countries overseas – all horrific tales of unnecessary death and violence. Somehow though, the Pulse shooting was different. It was more than just a news story. It wounded my neighborhood.

I did not know any of the victims nor did anyone in my immediate circle of friends and family. Orlando is a close community, but even in a city of over two million people the supposed six degrees of separation can seem monumental at times. Even without knowing the victims and their families, the whole world seemed to bear the same pain.

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By the afternoon of June 12th, rainbow flags already adorned the entrances to local businesses, Facebook groups for a citizen’s response was started and an outpouring of volunteers waited in lines for hours to donate blood. I still do not have the words to express the incredible support, unity and acceptance that surged out of this city. It was obvious that we were all in this together. Complete strangers were now friends and pride for our city had never been stronger.

A week after the shooting on June 18th, my husband, some friends and I attended the candlelight vigil around Lake Eola (Orlando’s mainstay public downtown park). The Central Florida commuter train, SunRail, opened for a special Sunday service that day to provide another transportation option for attendees. 20,000 people were expected to attend. The group of us all rode our bikes to the nearby station planning to ride the train to the downtown stop. When the trains cars pulled up they were already packed to the brim with riders and dozens more pushed their way in. We knew this would be a big night.

Forgoing the train to cycle the entire trip instead, we arrived at Lake Eola Park 30 minutes before the vigil was scheduled to begin. The 23 acre lake was surrounded by people at least 10 feet deep along the perimeter. The park was strikingly beautiful and painted in a sea of colors by everyone in attendance. The final attendance count was estimated to be over 50,000 people.

Although it had been a weekend full of gray skies and rain, just minutes before the program began a massive rainbow emerged across the sky – directly over the park. Everyone erupted into applause as our gazes all turned upwards. We knew the meaning of that message.

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The vigil commenced with words from Orlando Mayor, Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor, Theresa Jacobs, and several other figureheads who were involved with the incident. Everyone shared a message of love, humanity and strength. Our city would not be overcome the actions of one. In the final moments, we lit our candles and the area sparkled as the names of the 49 victims were announced. It was a beautiful moment and one that will be fixed in my memory forever.

Following the close of the program, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” played. It was as if everyone was frozen in time. Although the announcement to leave had been given, it was as if we all just needed a few extra moments to take it all in. The lake glistened from the reflections of candlelight and there was a great sense of belonging.

The social media hashtags surrounding the event – #OrlandoStrong and #OrlandoUnited – could not be a more accurate representation of the feeling and response. We are together in grief as much as strength.

I have never been more proud to call Orlando home and I know that we will only become stronger.

Helping Minority Women Bridge the Gap

CourtneyCMB

We covered everything from professional disadvantages that women of color experience, family, the informal education that colleges and universities provide, and how she is evening out the playing field to give exceptional women of color a fighting chance.

It all started for Courtney when she was a scholarshiped campus leader as an undergraduate student at the University of San Francisco. During her years there, she continued working at a law firm to cover her education costs. Inspired by the events during Katrina, Courtney wanted to have a direct positive impact instead of operating behind the scenes.

Therefore, Courtney went to straight to Fordham and obtained a Masters in Urban Studies. While she was there, Courtney researched urban minority women’s ability to integrate into society. With the pervasive nature of violence against women, Courtney’s research illuminated that urban minority women lacked robust networks. Instead young minority women were being hidden away at home in an effort to protect them from the variety of dangers in their community. This layer of protection was in turn harming these women’s abilities to get out of those communities as they lacked the social capital.

I met Courtney for the first time in October and we brought together women who we thought were inspiring.
I met Courtney for the first time in October and we brought together women who we thought were inspiring.

However, upon graduation, Courtney was offered an incredible opportunity in New York and began her “adult” life. But, as is the case with all transitions, it was a significant challenge. Faced with this new environment, Courtney quickly discovered that she needed the guidance that many of her peers received. Seeking this resource, Courtney couldn’t find the kind of organization she needed. So, in true driven millennial form, Courtney started her own non-profit the Color MeB. “I remember there was a lot of snow that year in New York, I had lost my job and I was really down from all of these challenges. But, I really wanted to provide direct value and promote successful women.”

From that day forward, Courtney has been growing CMB to offer trainings, webinars, networking opportunities and an insightful blog created for minority women. When asked what has been her greatest success, “Getting an article published with Bustle and being asked to speak as an alumna graduation speaker were the external validation that we were going in the right direction with CMB.”

On the greatest lesson? “Take your time. There’s always this pressure to have the grades, experience, you had to rush. There isn’t a huge rush, take the time so you can figure our what you want to do.”

To check out Courtney’s work with TheColorMeB check out her site here and check  out her Instagram @thecolomeb or Twitter @thecolormeb.

Why I Started this Blog

Going into 2015, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks thinking about what The Millennial Takeover has accomplished so far and where I’d like for it to go. Before I could even start to plan, I had to revisit why I started the blog in the first place.  It all started in the summer of 2011.

 

I had just wrapped up two summer classes, moved out of an apartment, into a new one and packed to go to Santiago,  Chile in the span of two weeks. For the first couple of weeks in Chile, I adjusted to life in the valley of the Andes as an Embassy intern. While I literally couldn’t stop grinning from the high of accomplishing a dream, that summer was filled with critics of millennials.

 

Granted there were several destructive protests, that summer had me feeling inspired by all that my young colleagues were accomplishing, especially Camila Vallejo the leader of the Chile protests asking for the government to redesign their management of the educational system. Every night the pierced nose, curly brunette made an appearance on the Chilean news eloquently leading the discussion.
Camila Vallejo Photo Credit :http://bit.ly/1BdO1jp
Camila Vallejo
Photo Credit :http://bit.ly/1BdO1jp
Sitting on the TV room couch, I couldn’t help but be inspired by the thousands upon thousands of millennials in Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Syria, England, Chile, and the United States, calling for a more equal world and were doing whatever they could to bring about that change. I wanted to know their stories, I wanted to know how they went from an ordinary 20-something to  toppling governments. But, those stories rarely made an appearance.

 

Upon my return to grad school in the fall of 2011, I had to set those thoughts aside to make it through my last year. But no sooner than I packed away my graduation garb, the drive to build a place to celebrate the millennials who are changing the world refused to be ignored. As they say, the rest is history.
Pucon 2011
Pucon 2011
In the new year, I hope to grow the blog so join the email list by signing up to the left, following us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.

Burying Dr. King’s Dream

“Our lives begin to end when we become silent about things that matter.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 20th for many in the States is a day of sleeping in, catching that movie on the “must see list,” and spending about 30 minutes thinking of the momentous impact of the life Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Although this is a testament to how far the U.S. has come from the painful pre-Civil Rights Movement, it also illustrates how well the mainstream has been able to downplay the conversation about race in the States and making it seem that we have become a “post-racial” society; especially when it comes to discussing the Millennial generation.

With the continuing existence of “yolo” culture, living a life of excess is not only presented as desirable, but attainable. With an 11.1% unemployment rate of 20-24 year olds, recent college grads are left in this drastic gap between the new American dream and reality. Most T.V. shows, movies, and music focus exclusively on the experience of the upper to upper middle class white demographic (a la Real Housewives or the Kardashians) or objectify the honest struggles of lower middle to lower class Americans (a la Teen Mom). With such an overload of superficial mainstream media, where is the space for showing a bit of the honest American experience, peppered with some people who are the new face of the United States?

By masking the reality of the life of the minority in the United States, we are burying the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In reality, he was just a member of a thousand person, decades long movement. However, his ability to move all kinds people to action created the catalyst the movement needed to end segregation and ultimately move the United States to a more equal society.

But what does this have to do with today’s conversation about race? Today, prejudice has evolved from violent crimes to more subtle exclusions from jobs, social gatherings, and justice. Just look to the reaction towards the recent verdict of the Trayvon Martin case to understand how deep are the wounds of modern racism in the United States. But much like every other major news story, it has faded away something that would surely disappoint Dr. King.

What is encouraging is the openness in which the Millennial generation approaches the discussion of race and diversity in the United States. Even though it doesn’t immediately change policy, talking about what it means to be a minority has the potential to change a mind at a time. Better representation in the media is slowly providing stronger role models to help frame the aspirations of younger generations. Change is painfully slow and requires constant attention or else we risk repeating our history.

ImageTallahassee, Florida 1963 – a demonstration outside a segregated theater.