Virgil Abloh Dared a Generation to Dream

The late visionary lived an impossible life — and inspired Black creatives to do the same

Damien Scott


Photo: Mattia Balsamini/contrasto/Redux

In 1965, James Baldwin, writing for the New York Times, opined that “unless we can establish some kind of dialogue between those people who enjoy the American dream and those people who have not achieved it, we will be in terrible trouble.” In other words: Unless we figure out how every child who is dedicated and works hard can achieve their ambitions, we’re fucked. And, despite being penned more than 50 years ago, his words still hold weight today.

A 2020 YouGov poll saw that while just over half of U.S. adults believe the American dream is within reach, the percentage plummeted when you put the focus on African Americans. According to the findings, only 45% of Black Americans thought the American dream was something they could reach — with a meager 16% saying it was very attainable. And that’s after seeing the impossible become reality: Barack Obama’s election as the first Black president of the United States of America.

Yet and still, dreams persist. Dreams are precious. Dreams drive and motivate. And, when all else seems to dissipate, dreams sustain. Paramount to all of that, though — to the multi-hyphenate creative Virgil Abloh, who died last month of a rare cardiac…