Frequently, I attend a couple of black “millennial” outreach happy hours across Philly. What initially was a way for me to establish a social network of peers my age has now become a spectacle of a generational gap that’s now painful to watch.
For me, millennials are defined as young adults ages 18 to 30, who are either first time voters and/or entry level professionals/post graduate students. The oldest millennials’ inaugural vote was for President Obama during his first term, as the youngest members will finally be able to vote in next year’s election.
Millennials aren’t seasoned elected officials or attorneys with close to six figure pay checks. They are not also individuals who can be able to hire me on the spot. So what are they doing at my happy hours?
For young black professionals in Philly, politics run deep within the collective social network. Given the high density of black elected officials, a good number of them use these events to “connect” with a younger demographic.
What I once assumed was a great way to be informed and engaged, I now realize has become a platform for excessive campaigning and self-promotion.
For one, there have become too many black millennial networks in the city that are attracting the same amount of people each time. I go to one and I seriously have met everyone else. So what true benefit will it do for us young adults?
Answer: not a damn thing.
Being the intrigued observer that I am, I’m now convinced that many of these social groups are tailored to recruit campaign volunteers and photo-ops. It’s a cheap and easy way to tell voters and constituents that you are in the community without actually being there.
Former mayoral candidate Doug Oliver made the mistake of trying to pitch a millennial platform he assumed would actually spark a strong young voter turn-out. Yet regardless of how he tried to identify as a millennial in spite of his corporate executive positions and deep City Hall connections – we weren’t buying into it.
This new buzz term of “millennial” hasn’t only become another way for older adults to find ways to exploit our demographic, but also individuals in my own age group as well.
At 23, I can truly say that the amount of people my age aspiring to throw their name in a local election race is as rapid as it is tragic. And there way of standing out: by creating millennial PACs that suck up the little money that I have left for a happy hour.
Behind closed doors – some millennials are capitalizing off of their own demographic to raise funds for their own political ambitions. Over-priced social dinners and galas to raise funds to support their missions are now being exposed as campaign fundraisers in disguise.
Well, I personally want no part of this debauchery and youth exploitation. I’m calling on all like-minded millennials in this city to start requesting your cocktails with a shot of honesty and no politics.
The views expressed in this column are those of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect those of Metro US.