Higher Education: The Choice for the African American Collegiate

by MullOverThis

A couple of weekends ago, I attended a birthday bash for a real-life Wonderwoman friend of mine.  Really.  Homegirl is a consummate professional, linked in, linked up, linked out and the entire nine yards plus some.  The power broker is a member of a reputable sorority, so the set was flanked with her sorors:  a number of fine engaging women.

Well, of course, after the introductions were kaput, small talk ensued.  The topic that became the mainstay was what type of college experience we wanted our own children to have as African-Americans in America.  More specifically, does the African-American fare better at the HBCU or a reputable well-ranked large university?  After about one hour of dialogue concerning the same, much of which was jarring to some hearers who were offended that Black people can be well-informed and still make sound choices to go to “white” schools, we all agreed that it would be best for our own children to make their own decisions, if our children can withstand our legacy dominance and influence.

Nonetheless, the conversation was telling in that it revealed a number of considerations:

1.  HBCU’s is an acronym that most African American’s are supposed to have rolling off of their tongues; Although I grew up in a predominantly Black community, I must have been disserviced to have to rely on context to figure out that HBCU= Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 

2.  There is some notion that HBCU’s are more intertwined with the struggle of our ancestors who paved the way for our educational opportunities and advancement, than historically top-ranked mainstream institutions; And, the selection of a HBCU is more apropos when a Black person regards the same.  Forget the civil rights movement and all of the jargon for which some of our ancestors died to ensure that Blacks could choose to sit side-by-side the white man and LEARN on the same playing field.

3.  Citing clear-cut advantages for choosing a major white institution over most HBCU’s is not just citing advantages.  It is a clear act of fulmination because the HBCU experience is one where the Black student is known by the powers that be, and “pushed” in a way that fosters self-confidence rather than having to exist in a mental war zone on a stressful, competitive, and white college campus.  Forget the real world and the culture of a typical high-salaried corporate job or a brand new entrepreneurial run.

4.  Some Black folks don’t understand that Black folks are still Black when they are surrounded by a majority of white folks.  And, our associations, affiliations, relationships and consequent life-long networks aren’t just made on the basis of African-Americanism, but tend to include GREAT people from all walks of life.

When I left the party, I thought about how successful African-Americans have become.   The reality is Black folks will continue to choose various paths to achieve whatever it is we desire.  This is what “the struggle” has been about, and continues to be:  the right to choose and pursue without discrimination because of our race.  Wherever Black  folks go, we are going to have to work harder and fight.  However, Mulloverthis isn’t going to recede from “elitist” circles-if that is where advancement and opportunity dwells-because other people within the enclosures have issues. This entitlement to think well, fight well, and be well is what my ancestors have given me, although I understand that many today aren’t willing or ready to “fight” to be.

However, for those who have already fought so that I-and countless other African-Americans who have chosen to attend prominent mainstream or “white” colleges/institutions-could BE, may they rest in peace, as I BE.

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2 Comments to “Higher Education: The Choice for the African American Collegiate”

  1. The opportunity to go to an HBCU is great; however, I do not believe that is the only academic path Blacks should take. Whatever school will help one reach the desired objectives should be the school of choice. If a person has a strong desire to maintain cultural connections, that can be done various ways. I’ve heard there is a difference in how students are treated in the classroom at HBCU’s, as they are supposedly trained with “blackness versus whiteness” in mind. However, there is more to being Black than being in competition with white folks. Choosing to go to a predominately white school may have its cons for obvious reasons, but one must be proactive enough to find ways to buffer those negatives such as joining minority organizations and staying connected to all things conducive to fostering a sense of legacy and cultural pride.

  2. “However, there is more to being Black than being in competition with white folks.”–AMEN!

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