Op-ed by Miles Hammock, Social Media Intern
Around this time last year, I had a summer term of college under my belt, and I was wrapping up an internship that revealed my hometown in a different light. At that time, I was confident and ready to take on the world and fully submerge myself in being a black millennial in Downtown Nashville.
At that time, I realized how much home had to offer me. In the same respect, I was angry that I was not aware of these opportunities until it was too late. Growing up it was always a stigma of “You have to be good at sports to really make it out of here”. I often felt overlooked because I knew I would be great in my own right. I often wondered when would anybody else notice. I felt like choosing to attend college out of state would give me a chance a to flourish on my own.
During my first year at Tennessee State University, I was tested beyond imagination. I had to get accustomed to being in a melting pot of millennials in a rising city tailored just for us. As well as indulging in a university full of African American millennials who eventually want to become successful. We are all in the booming city of Nashville, Tennessee looking to make the most of the opportunity our university provided for us. TSU has been an iron sharpens iron environment for me.
Being in Nashville I get the best of southern hospitality. At first, I was not very receptive to constructive criticism. It was hard for me to receive because these were people I barely knew. I happened to get out of that quickly once I realized those critics were people with credentials, the kind of credentials that I was working towards. These were my colleagues and instructors that I could tell really cared about making people better.
“If I grew up having a vision of everything my city is missing, would I have even left?”
Life outside of school in Nashville is a beast itself. I must say there are so many places to be young and have a good time. Whether it is a sporting event, nightlife, or indulging brunch the most important Sunday Fun-day Meal, there are few dull moments.
Although Nashville has provided me an exceptional change of environment, I still believe that my home could be just as great. That is one reason I chose to come back home and do another stint with The Madison County Chamber. I wanted to do a personal of assessment of what my city is up to and if it is making any progress to attract people like me.
At the beginning of the summer, I posed myself this question: What would make me come back to Indiana to reside permanently? In better words, what is my home missing to attract people just like me?
Honestly, I would love to see more places for young black professionals to openly interact. There are not many places I see my demographic reflected. During my internship, I attended several events around the city of Anderson. Out all of those I was the only African American Male there from age 18-25. That is a problem here. Being a professional is not showcased as being enough in this city, it is shown as being a plan B.
If I would have been trapped in Anderson for the whole summer, I would be miserable. When I had to look locally to have a good time, I was out of luck. That is what I longed for all summer. Just a place to unwind without having to drive far or spend a good amount of money. I believe these simple things would keep people my generation around. Appealing to live, work, and play would promote our productivity.
In reflection, I cannot help but think “If I grew up having a vision of everything my city is missing, would I have even left?” I pose this question to myself, lighting a fire in me as a leader. How can I get in the trenches to help a child who is me today?
At the end of the day, if you gave this millennial a voice…He would tell you, “I would love to stay and help, but right now I need a lot more. I need to catch up on the experiences that were not provided for me here at home. You must understand that me being selfish at this moment is not out of spite nor hatred. My personal growth is directly beneficial to your revival, and I truly mean I am grinding for you, Anderson, Indiana.”