The Never Ending Battle – HBCU vs PWI

Yesterday I came across a really disturbing video of a brawl that was caught on tape in the cafeteria of Alabama State University, a Historically Black college. It was horrifying. Fists were flying, chairs became weapons and people were scattering in every direction. Complete chaos. This is the second incident in the past few weeks, in which violence on an HBCU campus sparked national attention. With that attention, of course comes questions of the relevance and validity of historically black institutions as a body.

Comments on the aforementioned video echoed similar sentiments; that this type of event would never have taken place on the campus of a predominantly White institution, or that the entire concept of HBCU’s is racist. One commenter in particular went on to suggest that if there were Historically White Colleges and Universities, black people would be calling foul. The only problem with that statement is: the majority of this country’s institutions of higher learning are, in fact, historically white. The key word being “historically,” meaning that it is not necessarily that way now.

As a recent graduate of a historically black university, I can firmly say that not a day goes by, that I do not thank God for the opportunity to study at Hampton University. Could I have been challenged more academically at an Ivy League school? Maybe. Could I have been a part of a wider network of alumni as a graduate of a non-HBCU state funded institution? Yes. But it’s the intangibles of attending college at Hampton that I will always be grateful for. Never, for the rest of my life, will I ever find myself in a place so highly concentrated with people that look like me, with similar drive and ambition as I have.

Contrary to popular belief, although the majority of the students maybe of one race, the cultures of different regions, states and even countries make HBCU’s diverse breeding grounds for young scholarly minds. Though some may look the same on the surface, everyone’s experience is different. Of course nothing is perfect. Historically Black Colleges and Universities have consistently carried a reputation for less than stellar business practices ( a phenomenon we at Hampton affectionately call “the runaround”,) but even learning to navigate through issues like those teaches students how to be resilient, learn protocol, and enforces the value of maintaining relationships through networking and positive communication.

If there is one thing I know, it’s that attending a HBCU does not make me less than any person who chose to attend a predominately white institution. Unfortunately, many people believe otherwise. With funding down, and the performance levels of some HBCU’s not being up to par, the prestige behind an HBCU degree is diminishing rapidly. Here’s the question that I pose to you today…How do you feel about historically black colleges and universities? Do you think they’re racist or separatist? How did your college experience shape your opinion on this matter?

Talk to me.

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9 thoughts on “The Never Ending Battle – HBCU vs PWI”

  1. I don’t think HBCU’s are racist. They give big scholarships to white students that I couldn’t get from an HBCU here (Florida). Also, they were founded because we couldn’t go anywhere else to get an education in most circumstances, especially in the South. Some may think that they have lost their relevance because of desegregation and anti-discrimination laws, but other institutions don’t seem to foster the same type of mentoring relationships with their students, nor have such an investment in their success. As a PWI graduate, I believe that I had a lot of opportunities in my chosen field, but not with the exposure to other people of my culture in those fields. I was frequently the only African-American in my classes (I majored in English Language & Literature). HBCUs aren’t representative of the larger world, in that, as you stated, there won’t be another time when you will be surrounded by so many people who look like you with the same ambition and drive, but some people need the hands on assistance they can find there, or just need the reassurance that there are others like them who value education and personal advancement.

  2. I don’t see them as racist at all. I recently graduated from FAMU, the largest of all the black colleges, and it is definitely a need for them. Black colleges teach us things about our history that we would never know anywhere else. Because the colleges are generally small, we get the attention we need to succeed at our goals. These colleges produce some of the smartest African Americans, although you would never tell by the videos. FAMU had a video of a fight, which was on World Star Hip Hop. Although these videos are a shame, I agree with you. We are not less important because we chose HBCU’s.

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  5. I am a freshman at a HBCU and know that Historically Black Colleges and Universites are not racist. There are a lot of white students here that have gotten 100% finical aid and scholarships, that’s something most of the Black students can’t even get. HBCU’s are revelivent in all of Americas culture. In grade school Black students aren’t able to fully learn about our ancestors and where we come from. We are taught the basics every years and that is that we were once slaves. We never here about the great things that have happened, not only in America but also in other parts of the world. Going to HBCU taught to love myself and my culture.

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