The main reason that it will always be debated whether or not Black kids are better off attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities; HBCUs, or Predominately White Institutions; PWIs, is because HBCU students and alumni have an insecurity complex.
There, I said it.
And make no mistake, I said it as a HBCU alumni.
And I said it also knowing how preposterous it is that we feel the way we do.
By now, everybody knows that the majority of Black teachers, doctors, judges, engineers and scientists attended HBCUs.
And despite the fact that the majority of us are positively floored by the collective brainpower of our student bodies when we arrive at our HBCUs, we still can never shake the notion that being associated with anything “Black” is, by necessity, inferior.
Or, even if we can, the idea always remains like a dull possibility; like maybe Hillary really did win the election and what we’ve been watching for the last four months is a product of our imagination.
Meanwhile, we’re supposed to imagine that Black students at PWIs are learning firsthand how to “cope” with white people.
This is, allegedly, and advantage of course.
Something akin to, I’m guessing, taking a class on how to be a slave versus being thrust into slavery completely unprepared.
This has been the argument that HBCU students have used against the “superiority” of PWIs, the fact that seeing the possibility of a Black world has made them strive for it; motivated them to be business-starters innovators and entrepreneurs.
PWI students of course counter with, “Yeah? well let me know how that works out for you while you’re working at Walgreens to build capital for your start-up while the contacts I’ve made through my school land me my first job at Google.”
Similarly, HBCU students are likely to have grown suspicious of integration, seeing it now as a sham intended solely to shut down Black businesses, stop the circulation of Black dollars throughout the Black community and perpetuating Black self-hatred by making us think that buying white is somehow evidence of improvement.
Meanwhile, PWI student are wondering if we figured all that out from the back of the bus.
Also, HBCU students have a tendency to be suspicious of Black PWI students themselves, viewing them as potential spies trained to be of use to the white community meaning that the “regular” Black students will be no more than liaisons for our exploitation while the Black student athletes will themselves be exploited, provided that they can jump, dunk, score touchdowns and make millions for those schools from the moment they arrive.
PWI students, on the other hand, wonder if HBCU students are supposed to be of such service to the Black community then why is it still so messed up?
HBCU students might also have needed HBCUs; might have been from areas where there are few Black people or the Black people they’re surrounded by are all idiots and needed confirmation of the existence of a Black intelligentsia.
PWI students, on the other hand, probably think that all the really “smart” Black kids are already going to school with them.
The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter what kind of school you attend, you’re liable to stand there, at the end, before some man, hat-in-hand, hoping he’ll give you a job.
And it’ll matter a whole lot more then how you stand, than which school is on your resume.