“The blacker the college, the sweeter the knowledge.”
During invocation at the Cotton Bowl, ripples of laughter emanated mid-prayer as a pastor praised HBCUs and stressed the necessity of Black higher education avenues.In the midst of today’s Black president era, Black advocacy seems dated to some. However, race issues still exist. Sometimes all that race talk makes faux “equalists” uncomfortable.
“We’re all people,” a man recently told a friend and me. “It shouldn’t matter what color you are.”
And while that is a beautiful ideal, that man is a White male, the supposed historical zenith of humanity. After he said it, we three agreed, but concluded that we probably wouldn’t live to see the day race didn’t matter.
Too much of this country’s foundation is composed of racial inequality and establishments of pigment-based hierarchies. It’s systemic. Whether we talk drug penalties (i.e. crack penalties versus cocaine penalties), unequal educational facilities (separate and unequal), or intangible issues of identity as conveyed in the historically questionable, yet ideologically valid Willie Lynch letters, it is clear.
The race to end race hasn’t been won.
Generational victimization pathologies without solutions further perpetuate the isms many work to alleviate. As the world shifts to an era of multiculturalism, some will say that HBCUs are no longer necessary.
Separate educational facilities can foster grounds of racial hostility.
As someone who was educated in primarily Caucasian environments prior to Grambling State University, I am all too familiar with iffy jesting and insensitive off-color color comments that people in the majority often make.
In Grambling, a town of color, griping about White people is accepted. Many of the conversations that are born here likely parallel sentiments in non-Black towns.
While I don’t agree with painting any group with a lone stroke, the education that I’m receiving at Grambling State is not inferior. It rivals and surpasses that of my peers in majority schools.
I know this not because I have an inflated sense of self or am so blinded by blackness, that I don’t see room for improvement.
It’s enforced at regional and national journalism conferences, in open mics throughout the country and in cyber discussions with friends from community colleges and Ivy League schools.
Certainly Grambling can foster a climate of mediocrity, but average has no hue. Certainly some people here aren’t as efficient as they ought to be. Certainly some of us lack decorum and professionalism.
Certainly we experience more than our fair share of unnecessary monetary stress and ill handled documents.
But aren’t those everyday concerns of people everywhere?
I have met successful Grambling graduates in numerous circles. Our alumni give time, money, effort and, in the case of my parents and some of my friends, extensions of themselves, their offspring, and their minds.
While we sometimes create unnecessary hurdles for people who look like we do, I would not trade my Black college experience for a mixed or predominantly White one.
Coming to Grambling highlighted the beauty and richness from which we derive. It taught me that although my external composition might be similar to some, in several cases, we couldn’t be more unalike.
It taught me more about my people by showing that the homogenous experience, as my mother calls it, that I had growing up, isn’t the standard.
I have spoken with students at Florida A&M, Howard, Bennett, Benedict and other HBCUs. Many of our issues are similar. I’ve spoken with students at more racially diverse schools. They also experience many of the same issues.
All similarities aside, there is something to be said for discovering who I am, from, beside and with people who look like I do. Black college life is a beautiful experience, a short fairy tale of sorts, before we rejoin the colorful work force and step back into pre-established pavement. It’s an opportunity to brainstorm with the brightest, blackest and best.
Attending an HBCU is an homage of sorts to our ancestors. There is something to be said for choosing to be educated in one of the only environments that would have accepted me a few generations ago.
As for the HBCU haters, don’t understand why? Just don’t apply. I thought you knew.
Editor in chief Imani Jackson is a junior mass communication major from Jacksonville, Fla.