Generation Xceptional

These 30-and-under overachievers are representing themselves -- and their peer group -- to the fullest. Here's their take on the world they are poised to inherit.

“Let’s love ourselves, then we can’t fail to make a better situation. Tomorrow, our seeds will grow. All we need is dedication.” — Lauryn Hill
Selfish. Cynical. Unmotivated. Such sentiments have been linked to the original crop of latch-key kids since we were first classified under the peculiar designation Generation X. Ask us what we think about ourselves, however, and we’ll be more likely to say that we’re independent, we’re not afraid to tell it like it is, and, quite frankly, we see no value in doing the same old things, much less in the same old ways.

Indeed, concerning the more than 45 million members of our “lost” generation — born between approximately 1965 and 1977 — it has often been stated by our elders that we place too much emphasis on the here and now, demand immediate results without first paying our dues, and get a rise out of challenging authority. Well, if the shoe fits . . .

But no matter what labels — deserving or otherwise — may be affixed to us, there is one thing Xers can never honestly be tagged: “slackers.” Our high-tech inclinations combined with an innate desire to experiment with new ways of seeing, thinking, and doing have changed the way the world operates. In the workplace, our influence is apparent with the influx of casual dress codes, more relaxed working environments, the application of technology, and the development of innovative business models. On the social front, our commitment to community activism, political responsibility, and human rights has proven that our generation is not as apathetic as the pundits had originally claimed.

Because we are the successors to the throne of power and leadership in our communities, nation and world, it is only fitting that we tell you how we feel about the world we are about to inherit. be asked a variety of high-achieving individuals, age 30 and under — some of whom are actually members of Generation Y — to identify the biggest issues facing the African and Latino American communities in the 21st century, as well as some beginning steps that can be taken to address them.

Omar Karim
Age: 26
Status: Corporate lawyer, Kramer, Levin, Naftalis & Frankel; co-founder, eUniversityBookstore.com
Education: B.S., mechanical engineering, Howard University; J.D., Howard University Law School
Background: Karim is one of six siblings — four engineers, a medical professional, and a high school student — and derived his entrepreneurial aspirations from his father, whose businesses included a newspaper, a gas station, a fish market, and a restaurant. A two-time member of the board of trustees at Howard University, he was the first to serve more than one term while an undergraduate student. His fellow trustees have included Earl G. Graves, Gen. Colin Powell, and Jack Kemp, former secretary of the department of housing and urban development.

Karim: The two biggest issues I see facing our community are access to capital and a lack of business savvy. African Americans have only been able to secure a [small amount] of the trillions of dollars of capital out there. They say you have to have money

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