Friday, December 21, 2007


Check out this article “Separation Anxiety” from the Nov. 30th edition of The Wall Street Journal for their take on black enrollment in black colleges. If you have an opinion on the matter PLEASE leave it in the comment section of the blog post here and do not send your reply to my E-mail, text box, or voicemail. I'd like to have a public discussion on the matter, not a private whisper.

~we're the warriors they write epics about~


I AM GVG said...

This was the response I sent to the person whom had originally told me about it.

Thanx for the article it was a great read, not sure if I necessarily agree with it, but it’s always good to read another point of view. Beings as I didn’t attend an HBCU I can’t speak on the education firsthand. However, HBCUs have produced some of my most intelligent, successful, family and community minded people I have ever known and had the pleasure and honor to call friends. Not to mention that it seems to build bonds of friendship like no other institution of education I have ever come into contact with. The same thoughts as I get older and come in more intimate direct contact with them seems to also apply to black fraternities. Just my two cents on the matter…

Belle is... said...

I didn't go to an HBCU. I went on a Black college tour, which my parents allowed moreseo to give me something to do and give the allusion that I had a choice in where I went. I thought Spellman was amazing-- they told me I was going to UMCP. My two best friends from my all-white prep high shcool went to HU (the real one, Howard.) After my freshan year, when they got to HU, I practically lived on that campus-even attended some classes for fun. (Yes, I am a nerd.)

All that said, of course HBCUs are necessary-- if for nothing more than the character and esteem they build in their students that they will be hard pressed to find at any other point in their lives. It took me working for a professional Black company where I was suddenly the new girl instead of the new Black girl to get what a burden of race gets carried around on our shoulders daily. I don't represent the race. I'm expected to do well because I'm qualiied and I don't ever wonder if I was hired to fulfill some we-need-diversity quota. That freedom, that sense that you are the best and the brightest and you are there for your recognized potential, is what you get at an HBCU.

I'm offended that someone would refer to these institutions as caricatures of white institutions or call the education inferior. Most of the brightest, hardest-working, best-networking, and intelectually sound and funiest people I know went to HBCUs. Even in their so-called inferior environment (so not true) they are taught that when they get to the world, they will need to be twice as good to get half as much. That message is embedded and for the vast majority of attendees and graduates, it sticks.

I do think the author raises a valid point about the gov. supporting these schools. There is a line in School Daze where the dean of the college rants that Black Schools are underfunded and points out the Jews finacially support Yeshiva, the Mormons financially support Brigham Young, the Catholics financially suppprt Notre Dame. So why don't Black people financially support HBCUs? As long as we look for someone other than us to support "our" schools, we'll face the financial support of them coming under fire.

Last thought (I promise),how can anyone complain that HBCU's are less than one percent white, when many, many other campus populations are less than one perecent white-- or just slightly higher. Or consider this: UMCP sits in PG County which is 65% Black. When I was there the Black enrollment was 10% It's since dropped. What happened to the rest of the Black high school graduates?

Me thinks that there is a quiet racism behind this. Too many educated Blacks competing for good jobs. (Cause the "Mexicans"--appiled to anyone who speaks Spanish-- have taken over the bad ones.) How do you get rid of the competition? Get rid of where they get educated.

Great post.

CNK said...

You know, I thank Abigail and Stephan Thernstorm for sharing their insightful opinions about HBCUs. It reinforces the fact that there is still an incredible amount of work that needs to be done to educate the masses about the value of genuine diversity and it underlines that we are in a society where “majority white” is still seemingly right.

There are countless institutions today that DO NOT represent varied ethnicities – you are probably working at one RIGHT NOW. Seemingly the tables are turned and the plantation bell is rung when there are too many of “us” convening in one place. There is a heightened sense of anxiousness all across the country whenever African-American people convene and especially as a positive collective. I sense that this article is an intellectual stab at specifically at the (for some) academic unknown – HBCUs.

I am a proud graduate of Howard University (the real HU, founded in 1867 by General Oliver Otis Howard). General Howard founded the school with four white women, because at the time women did not have equal educations rights either, and along with the Freedman’s bureau, a strong student push for representative curriculum, and decades of strategic positioning, it has developed into “the mecca” – a beacon of light for the world, leaving an indelible history upon the United States.

HBCU are NOT about melanin, they are about community – resorted community. The opportunity for young bright minds to connect, reinforce, learn, grow and succeed together. Our universities are IV’s that have injected the serum of freedom (intellectual, physical and spiritual) into the life blood of American society.

For example, Abigail and Stephen mentioned, Brown v. Board being half a century ago and having no true relevance now. They raised the point that black students are getting diplomas and then not graduating from college. However, they failed to mention why -- many urban public schools in America are not preparing our children to succeed.

Socio-economic variables across many American communities are training our children daily to fail. They are providing a stunted sense of confidence, they are setting limited expectations and they are granting diplomas with the slanted recommendation that in today’s society obtaining extended education is an option. And it can be – but you need great luck when you are uneducated, not wealthy and not a part of the “good ol’ boys network” in these “yet to be United States of America.”

Article quote:
“Perhaps they continue to thrive because they do an excellent job of making sure their students actually get a diploma. Getting into college is not the great problem for blacks in higher education today; staying and graduating is.”

THANK YOU Abigail and Stephan for that insight. It sheds a spotlight on exactly why we do exist. For those that may not fully understand, I’ll take a moment to share:

History – past, present and future. We educate ourselves and in turn educate others to have an enlightened perspective of who they really are (their heritage, their lineage and their responsibility to those that made it possible to advance in this country today).

Responsibility – If not us, then who? Certainly not Abigail and Stephan. Leave it to them the 244 years of slavery and 88 years of segregation equally equate to the 42 years of freedom. I charge YOU to do that math. We can only be responsible for ourselves. We can not and should not expect anyone to care for us. History has taught us and this article has reinforced that that is NOT going to happen.
Development & Growth – There has not been a single race of people to come to the U.S. and not work together to withstand the pressures of oppression (physical or mental) and strife. Jewish, Chinese, Irish, Indian, Hispanic, you name it, they’ve used their communities to band together and create insulated, supportive networks for empowerment. Our history is a bit remixed (because of a lot of lost history, torn lineage, etc.) non the less – we are here and we have to fix it.

Not only do HBCU students learn academic curriculum in the company of their peers, BUT they are free to devise plans that will serve as part of a solution for this conundrum. This is a complex social issue and it must be approached strategically. Ignoring that problems exist, do NOT make them go away.

Sustainability – Rebuilding the confidence of a nation that once built pyramids on their backs from mathematical genius and exquisite architectural ability will not happen over night. It will also not happen in institutions that do not value (or even know for that matter) the unique timeline of AA history, who you are or your abilities to be great. I find other institutions to be outstanding for preparing you to work for someone else. Not matter how top level. And while HBCUs do the same in many cases (we have a long way to go) – they still add a piece to your psyche that can NEVER be taken away.

A sense of self that infects any and everyone in your presence – you know who you are, you know who’s you are and you are proud of it! That is a gift that you can not buy. Institution’s like Howard and other HBCU exist to share, create and celebrate African-American history. We welcome all but we have a targeted focus.

Much like public schools make it their business for you to believe how great Christopher Columbus was – we make it our business for you to understand the contributions of W.E.B. Du Bois, et. al. There is one mind, one vision and one destiny – success. You can pass away and the expectation is the same, our history is collected in one place and our charge is long standing.

I’ll close not with my own words but with those that I’ve taken from those that have come before me:

“If you can control a man’s thinking, you do not have to worry about his action – when you determine what a man shall think you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do.” – Carter G. Woodson

“Every man is born into the world to do something unique and something distinctive. If he or she does not do it, it will never be done.” – Benjamin Mays

“If you know where you come from, there are no limits to where you can go.” – James Baldwin

“Its time for everyone of us to roll our sleeves up and put ourselves at the top of our commitment list.” – Marian Wright Edelman

Let’s get it done!


Gym Nazi said...

I, as well didn't attend an HBCU, as my college education was rooted in a predominantly lily white, Long Island Jewish campus Upstate New York. I will say that I always find it interesting when White America feels the need to "take away" aspects of our community that some of us find necessary, because we have "made it." Things are close enough to being on an even playing field, so why would we need our own schools? If they take these institutions, this will force blacks to attend other universities, and be exposed to the diversity that is offered. IF this were complete truth, then it would make a bit more sense, but this certainly isn't the case. I've never had a problem with HBCU's as long as the education being offered was on par with many other white institutions. The problem here lies in perception. The perception being that HBCU's offer "lesser" education.

It isn't as good, and doesn't live up to expectations set by predominantly white campuses, thus the notion by Christopher Jenck's and David Riesman that HBCU's are, "ill-financed, ill-staffed caricatures of white higher education." White being right, or better( what else is new? ). During my duration at SUNY Albany, many blacks as well didn't understand why some attended traditionally black campuses. "How will it prepare them for the real world??" "When in corporate America(assuming this is where you're headed), you're forced to deal with white folks on a daily basis." Will Morehouse, Howard or any other prepare me for such a task?? I remember countless times sitting in a lecture center and being one of three black kids in a class of at least 40 students. You're groomed from the moment you step on campus to learn how to live in "their" world. Did this help me as I entered the work force? I can't definitively say yes. Maybe, maybe not. Those I know who attended HBCU's didn't seem to have a problem adjusting either, so why this big myth?

You also think about how it may reflect on your resume after you leave school. Coming from a seemingly white school, even if it isn't Ivy League has to look better than coming from Morgan State per se. Whether right or wrong these are debates I'd have with friends of mine on campus, and the opinions were across the board. Some would never attend, " Black schools are party schools!", whereas, others were open to the idea.

Bottom line is a good school, that has vast resources will produce a quality student, if he or she is willing to put the effort set forth. Personally, I know many people in the NY area who have attended HBCU's and none are any less successful than our counterparts who attended white schools. It is all about the mindset of the student who is attending. You can go to Harvard for 4 years, but if you don't utilize the features they have to offer then you have an Ivy League idiot. Trust I know quite a few. Sadly enough sometimes perception can override reality. Will a kid who excelled at Morehouse necessarily get that job over the average student who went to Harvard??? Hmmmm.....Maybe not. Is it fair? No. But in life many standards are set by a measuring stick. And the perception doesn't only lie with White America, but also amongst our own community. Just my two cents......

Good one G


Anonymous said...

I went to a HBCU one of the more popular, Clark Atlanta University, I enjoyed my experience. I never considered going to a predominately white school at all. I went to them all my life and when I could make a choice I made the best choice for me. I went on the black college tour an sixteen year old who didn't As a black woman who went to white parochial schools, I wanted to achieve with people who looked like me and understood my struggle in white schools and be open about it. I loved having teachers who where doctors in there profession but had a range of skin colors, even white but they were more open to understanding than playing devils advocate all the time. All that being said, I will say that HBCU's are relevant today especially for goal oriented Black Women who want to achieve without the pressure of being thought of as a "nappy headed ho" by her peers or her teachers and for the Black Man who usually ends up in the same economical class as his peers. I would have never met the friends that I have now from everywhere in country, which could be said of any school but for me it was the best school choice.
Now for the cons, these schools are not respected by people who don't understand their purpose. So most people who hear that I went to an HBCU are baffled by the idea of it. Also, in moving back to the North to live, the HBCU is a bit unheard of because there are very few in the North. There is very little respect given to these schools which enrich the lives of young black people which America seems to focus on as being uneducated and out of control anyway.
In the end I have to say one more thing if all these studies are to prove something about HBCU's shouldn't they be done by black people who conduct studies not white people who only know how to play devils advocate because that is the only role they can play, unless they are part of the less then 1% that attended or actually teach or taught at an HBCU.

Thanks Gardy, Deirdre

Azure said...

I will begin by saying, "WOW!"

I am a two time graduate of an HBCU (TUSKEGEE UNIVERSITY), and I am currently at Texas A&M University working on my terminal degree. I never thought I would say this...HBCUs are an important part of the educational growth of African-Americans.

I grew up in Brooklyn, NY. All my life I have gone to an all black school (Elementary/Junior HS and HS). Before graduating, a HBCU was not my first choice. I wanted to expose myself to the work force majority. I knew that interacting with Becky and Bob was the option that I needed to take, but I wanted to go to school in the south. All the northern school in which I applied to were PWIs (predominantly white institutions)...Pretty much I was told you are not going to any white school in the south...Hence, Tuskegee was where I landed (other than Hampton...did not complete one section of the only HBCU that I applied for)

Tuskegee (and other HBCUs) will tell you that it is an EXPERIENCE...THE TUSKEGEE EXPERIENCE! What did this mean? Well, HBCUs have a way of dicking folks around. They will send you around looking for the office, i.e. financial aid, bursar, registrar, cashier, etc., to solve your problem. They also will give you attitude, lip and open their offices late and close early. For most of us, this taught us patience, networking skills, or how to humble ourselves especially when you want to tell someone where to put their money. In addition, you learn how to work with what you have. Meaning, you can go to a neighboring college and take additional classes; go to a prof in your department to ask more about their field and from that you can sign up for any research they might be a part of, etc. There are so many options to this that will add to and look good on your resume. Students at HBCUs are not under par is BOGUS!!!! To some, they are following tradition, and for others, they wanted to attend a university because someone told them they will never amount to anything/they thought it would be easier. There are a lot of things that one gains from an HBCU other than an education…LIFE LONG FRIENDSHIPS AND PRIDE! They produce over half of the successful African Americans in the United States.

Now, the lack of funds starts from situations that are either causes by the HBCU themselves or the Alumni chapters not raising enough money for students and the university. This varies between private and public HBCUs. Universities like Howard, Morehouse, Spellman, Hampton and Tuskegee (Tuskegee have is a private university with land grant money) have had some type of support which has been associated with the name of the university and the student that they have produced. Are these students competent …YES! And, do they excel to do more and become functional members of society…YES! Mind you that these 5 universities have the black elites support…meaning that children of the Links and Boule, and Jack and Jill debutants attend these universities. Other private HBCU fall short and go bankrupt because of the lack of funds to privately run HBCUs, a lot of them are lacking core facilities which will help you matriculate into a graduate degree. Not only that, a lot of the presidents of the universities are corrupt and alumni are dishearten to donate money to their home (HBCU). Public HBCUs have the same issues that private ones have but…and I do say BUT…the state has taken over and monitors (Big Brother) what and where these funds go.

Where are our children and why are they not aspiring to more? To this I say…you have to know your history before you can move forward. We as African-Americans do not know our history or it is conveniently kept out of school...I do not know it has been a while since I have been a child. Or, being that things are made easy and street life/rap star/r&b singer have become an easy way out of finishing high school or aspiring to do more with themselves. I bet is you ask a child in the street about slavery, civil rights movement or women’s right movement…for us ladies…they will tell you that they know about Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. They probably cannot tell you much about them either.It is sad when white children and adults can tell you more about your history (i.e. Booker T., Fredrick Douglas, George Washington Carver, WEB DuBois) than the average black child in the street. I bet you they can tell you who out sold who in the last CD sales or how to superman that hoe before they can name anything about the history of blacks in America. They can tell you about every damn black sitcom ever made, but do not understand the struggle that people have made for this to be so…They just do not know. Affirmative Action and all the other things that have been put in place to make us feel as though we are free has actually placed us back in the post-slavery pre-civil rights era again. I mean what are we to do!?!?

You know at Texas A&M…where do I begin??? This is where I came to a full realization of how left behind our children are. Why can’t that 1-10% African-American population on PWIs cannot receive over a 2.5 GPA? At PWIs, they have access to all the latest things…library open 24-7-365, and there are scholarships offered to first generation college students. They flunk out and have random excuses to why they can’t get up for an 8 am or 12 pm class. This is my first time away from home…My alarm did not go off… there are 300+students in a class and I feel as though my prof do not want to give me his undivided attention… I mean every excuse!!! Who should give you a diploma/degree? Not only that, the minorities that PWIs are trying to recruit are the Hispanics…why? Because, they are less volatile, they work hard, and the best thing is that they look like them. I believe in minorities getting educations, but this is SICK!!! You know there are programs for African Americans to attend graduate school for free…But, we do not fit the bill or those that do are nowhere to be found… If I was fully awake, I would go on and on about it instead of going off in a tangent.

…I will leave with this note. We need to teach our children. The Jews , Africans, Hispanics, West Indians, Asians (Orientals and Indians) always teach their children about their cultural past. They look out for each other. African-Americans are a bunch of CRABS!!! Each time one crab tries to free him/herself there are 20 others pulling him or her down. We have to break the cycle of light skin vs. dark skin, good hair vs. bad hair and all those other things that was placed for us to act like crabs. Help our children to know about the greatness in which they came…Ancient Egyptians, Moors, Mali, Kush, Songhai, etc. How Africans used calculus and engineering skills before white people? Teach them about the fact that most of the American inventors (white) stole the idea/inventions from their black slave/helper/maid depending on what era it was…Teach them!!!

brran1 said...

*jumping over from PostBourgie*
As a person that proudly attends Morgan State University as a Civil Engineering Major and as a future Howard University Civil Eng. Grad Student, I personally feel as if it is just as important for us to have our own institutions of higher learning as it would be for people of any other group (i.e. Mormons, Catholics, Hispanics, etc.) to have means to nurture and educate their own before throwing them out into the real world.

I personally feel as if in most cases, people want to obtain their post secondary education from a place that is similar to where and how they were raised. However, I do agree that there are times when black that live in majority non black surroundings want to attend HBCU's for the quote en quote Black Experience because of a lack of one where they were raised.

*This post has inspired me to expand on my comment in Blog Form on my own blog...*