Being that it is Black History month I found it prudent that in the midst of the shade, foolery, and other entertainment foolishness that I carved out a little time to educate my captive audience. I’ve decided to team up with @Anti_Intellect of the Anti Intellect Blog to bring to you guys a few nuggets of Black History. ~ Funky Dineva
As a proud graduate of Florida A&M University, I could not make it through Black History Month without celebrating Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The stereotypes that exist about these important Black institutions seem to be endless. It isn’t unusual to hear people complain that HBCUs lack diversity, are merely party schools, or no long necessary in our integrated society. In my opinion, these ignorant claims are reflective of a larger degradation of Black life that exists in our white supremacist society.
There are currently 105 HBCUs in the United States. These 105 schools vary from public to private, two-year to four-year, and even single-gender schools. It is important to remember that most HBCUs arose when racist thinking, primarily in southern states, believed that Black and White students should not be educated together. Due to this thinking, land grants were given for the creation of institutions of higher education for Black students.
It is easy to buy into the notion that HBCUs are no longer relevant in our integrated society where Black students can apply to Predominately White Institutions. This kind of post-racial thinking could not be further from the truth. America may be a less racist society, but racism still exists–especially in our schools. It is still common to hear of Black students being questioned about their enrollment in a PWI. The assumption being that we only made it into those schools because of Affirmative Action or Athletic Scholarships.
In my opinion, HBCUs will never stop playing a vital role in the academic and social lives of Black students. As I mentioned earlier, some people ignorantly think that HBCUs lack diversity. However, I did not appreciate diversity until I enrolled at Florida A&M University. In high school, I was the sole Black student in most of my honors and AP classes. I did not feel as though I were in a diverse environment. Instead, I felt as though I were a token. This is why it was so important for me to attend a HBCU upon graduation. I needed to be surrounded by a diverse array of Black students. At my HBCU, I met Black students from all walks of life. Contrary to popular belief, racial diversity is not the only form of diversity as some people ignorantly assume. HBCU campuses are full of gender diversity, class diversity, diverse sexualities, religious diversity, international diversity, and much more. A straight Black religious student from California is completely different from a gay Black atheist from Florida. Yes, they have racial commonality, but they also have cultural differences that allow them to appreciate and learn from each other’s diversity.
The legacy and future of accomplished HBCU graduates is endless. Luminaries like Toni Morrison, Oprah Winfrey, Samuel L. Jackson, and Spike Lee are all HBCU graduates.
HBCUs, like many colleges and universities, continue to face challenges in the 21st century. I don’t want to suggest HBCUs are perfect, because they certainly are not. Many of our beloved Black institutions continue to be besieged by financial mismanagement, a failure to hire and retain visionary leadership, and poor academic performance by students. There is definitely much room for improvement among our HBCUs.
The future of higher education in America is one where the role of HBCUs will remain present and necessary. We will always need affirming academic environments that foreground our race and culture. We will always need schools like Howard, Spelman, Morehouse, Fisk, Bethune Cookman, Tennessee State University, and the many other HBCUs.
I will continue to celebrate HBCUs!
Fun Fact: President Obama will deliver the 2013 commencement address at Morehouse College.