Allow me to tell you this story:
One day there was a mini presentation after one of our NPHC members had a new member presentation that week held in the student union. Of course, it was loud, it was entertaining, it was distracting and it was authentic. Later on, in one of my school’s Facebook groups a Caucasian student had complained that there was a “flash mob” (I cannot make this stuff up y’all) in a common area and his friend who had vicious anxiety began to feel so uncomfortable that he had to step outside until the show was over. The student claimed that it was “obnoxious, annoying and doesn’t serve any real purpose” and further expressed that it is ridiculous and he would like it to stop. Instead of defending the black population, a member of staff answered politely telling the student what the “flash mob” was, apologized, and explained that the disruption was brief and that the student was allowed to come into her office for solitude during any of the future presentations should he feel the need.
One word….. Wow. We the black student population were granted a few minutes to showcase our 'blackness' if you will and it gets considered as a flash mob. We the minority at our school were permitted a few minutes to proudly showcase our culture for all to enjoy and somehow, there is room for accommodating the majority......
When I was a graduating senior, I applied to the schools that I liked, and hoped that they liked me back. Many of which were laid out for me through the outstanding work of Junior Achievement Bahamas. The school that I set my hopes and dreams on was Morgan State University, an HBCU of course. I think my decision was tainted with a hint of bias because it was one of the schools that I was fortunate enough to visit and walk. Most of all, I faintly remember my younger myself stating that whichever school I chose in the end had to be a HBCU. So, 3 years later; how am I about to graduate from a predominantly white school?
One word- MONEY. Unfortunately, HBCU’s do not have the budget to grant scholarships like PWI’s do and when they do, you know a person is as sharp as knife. Honestly, I went with the choice that offered me the largest scholarship- MONEY. That taught me one of the most valuable lessons that I have ever learned. Do not let money move you. Never sell out. If you pursue something, do not settle for the cheaper or less quality version just because it costs you less. In contrast, I am of the belief that you should not have to over pay for education. Not in a world where billionaires became billionaires solely off the strength of their own merit. Learning begins outside of the classroom so the amount of money that you pay for a degree that reads the same as mine, is minuscule to me.
The HBCU choice is bigger than parties, nights you want to replay forever, or the pro black stigma carried in association. It’s supporting something that was built by us, for us. It’s ensuring they are still around to compete with schools that will never allow us to wholeheartedly embrace our culture. It’s protecting a legacy left behind by our ancestors who dared to seek an education. It’s the very soul of Greek life. It’s protecting our future. It’s a place that we can all subsist contentedly in our own skin. And if we don’t support us, if we don’t send our children to HBCU’s then they will disappear.
My school- the way they do things, the software and facilities are great and constantly improving. The campus is so enormous that walking from class to class is a full work out. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity I have now because I have formed bonds with the most amazing women I've ever met- my sisters, and met people from all walks of life that completely changed how I view the world. My point here is I don't know how much freedom I have in adapting to an atmosphere where even when we the minority are granted a few minutes there is a comprise to make the majority feel comfortable. An atmosphere where when we gather even for the most positive of causes, we are labeled as a "flash mob". How much do you think anyone can really grow in a situation like that? Now, it is the job of any school to ensure that its students feel safe and comfortable on campus at all times, but again; my point here is this complaint would have never happened if we were attending an HBCU. We would not feel made to suppress, or compromise because "flash mobs" would be encouraged, respected and expected of us. I cannot blame my school for its position on the student's complaint, I respect it even. I don’t regret my decision in attending a PWI because the quality of my education sums insignificant to that of a person with an HBCU degree; rather because I missed out on my opportunity to thrive in an environment where the students look just like me. They can relate like me, struggle like me, embrace our culture like me, and learn to conquer in a world where sometimes skin color still matters like me. Our college years are the greatest contributor to the “young and free” times of our lives and while learning is at our core, so should our ‘carpe diem’ energy. We will never get another opportunity to live the undergraduate experience again.
I wonder, when you’re done with school (or when you graduated school) will you be able to say that you have learned any valuable life lessons? Accomplished anything outside of your degree? Met some people who've made an impact in your life? Will you be able to move forward knowing your purpose? As for me, I am not entirely sure. I am of the opinion that every new experience brings something different to master and I can not help but feel that a shift in environment will allow that. I’ll find out.