Dear Black People aka Hey Family,
I’m writing because I’m tired of what I see on my Twitter feed. I’m writing because I'm tired of reading articles/tweets about how I must hate myself because I didn’t apply to any HBCU’s because I always knew I wanted to go an Ivy League University. I’m writing because I’m disgusted by the behavior and beliefs of some of you, my brothers and sisters. Recently, our family at the University of Missouri, Yale, Ithaca College, etc. came under attack for taking a stand against the systematic and day-to-day racism they experience on their respective campuses. Our brothers and sisters are quite literally fighting for their right to exist, go to class, and get an education and people want to talk about HBCU’s vs. PWI’s. HBCU’s vs. PWI’s… like there isn’t a larger issue at hand here.
White terrorists are wreaking havoc on these campuses and y’all wanna discuss/condemn school choice?? Like a person’s right to be educated without fear decreases based upon where they go to school. Like sexism, homophobia, self-hatred, rape-culture and other problematic things don’t exist at HBCU’s. Like the real world is a cocoon of Blackness full of people who look like you. Like being around Black people all the time means everything is kosher.
Here’s the problem with this whole debate. Only 28% of people in the United States of America from 2006-2010 who are 25 years or older had a Bachelor’s degree. How many of those people were Black? 17.7%. 17.7 percent of the Black population of the US that’s 25 years or older from 2006-2010 had a Bachelor’s degree. But, here we are discussing what type of school is better – like that’s the most pressing issue at hand.
Guess what, it’s not. At the end of the day, not enough of our people are educated. Period. So how about instead of debating the merits of different types of schools, we work on getting more Black girls and boys not only into but out of college/university.
In an effort to not be the PWI version of Anti-Intellect, I say this - no matter where that degree is from, we’re all Black. We’re all fighting for respect in a world that often still treats us like we’re 3/5ths of a person. I understand the role that HBCU’s have played in Black history. They represent the great African-American tradition of creating a space for ourselves when American society refused to allow us to enter their institutions. But guess what, Black students at PWI’s also represent a great African-American tradition- that of directly confronting whiteness and carving out a space for us in places we were told we don’t belong. Different strokes for different folks- but, both serve to advance the existence of Black people in AmeriKKKa.
Let’s not be like Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, debating where Black people should exercise their genius. You go where is best for you and I will go where is best for me. A degree is a degree. Some might in fact hold more "weight" than others in the eyes of mainstream society, but when only 17% of Black people have a Bachelor’s degree, it sounds to me like all of us are “the talented tenth.” So what are we going to do, talk about it or be about it?
Where one goes to school really boils down to personal choice and resources available. If one is dead set on going to Spelman but they don’t offer good enough financial aid for ones situation while the University of Michigan is offering a full-ride, how can someone be faulted for going to U of M? If one wasn’t around Black people growing up and wants to immerse themself in their culture, how can they be faulted for attending an HBCU?
I realize that if we as a community don’t do something, we might not have many HBCU’s around in a few years. And I also know that being a Black student at a PWI doesn’t mean one has made it to the “promised land.” Both student populations and institutions need help, resources, knowledge, and love. Attending an HBCU might protect me from whiteness for a little while, but it won't guarantee me safety from other problematic beliefs and behaviors. Just like going to a PWI doesn't guarantee that I'll be better prepared for life after graduation or at an institution that cares about me beyond pictures for their website even if I'm benefitting from their resources. Why can’t we come together to work on the real issue – getting us in, getting us graduated, and changing our institutions for the better, no matter where we go, while we’re at it?
How about, instead of discussing which type of university is better, we all focus on getting educated and getting free. After all, it is our duty to win and we have nothing to lose but our chains…(Word to Assata!)
OH, and I will still pull up at your homecoming, rep Cornell, be lit, and leave. Because, family is family right? (LOL)