Latino population increases, HBCUs respond

While America remains a majority White nation, rapid increases are occurring in the Latino community.This demographic change presents interesting issues in the nation’s cultural landscape.

Admittedly, the Latino community includes people who identify as White, Black and multiracial, and the group is typically represented as a minority.

Latinos sometimes contribute to the “browning” of America, as White people are expected to be in the racial minority by 2040 or 2050, according to various estimates.

Minorities make up almost half of the children born in the US already, according to the Washington Post. That figure was nearly 40 percent in 1990.

During the last 10 years, the country’s Latino population increased by 43 percent.

As Spanish-speaking communities develop and grow throughout the US, HBCUs begin to expand their recruitment efforts and work to accommodate different categories of students.

Organizations are backing these efforts. The Thurgood Marshall College Fund is a prime example. It provides scholarships, support, and research to HBCUs.

Researchers in the organization found that HBCUs “are attracting more students than ever before.” This is especially true of Latinos and Asians.

“We are supporting diversity and it matters to HBCUs whose historic mission has been to serve under-served communities including Hispanic and Asian minorities, as well as, the low-income population,” said TMCF education researcher Olivia Blackmon.

According to Grambling State University’s interim vice president of enrollment and retention, GSU is no exception.

“The idea is to enhance enrollment by strategically increasing targeted student populations such as students from diverse backgrounds and non-traditional students,” said Dr. Paul Bryant in a press release for the university website.

“These efforts improve the quality of education we offer our students by providing them with a rich, diverse educational experience while simultaneously providing students with the caring and nurturing atmosphere of an HBCU,” said the retention specialist.

GSU includes not only a largely African-American student body, but also international students and African descended students who identify as Latino.

One such student is Lavonte Lopez Perkinson, a half-Dominican mass communication sophomore from Westchester, New York.
Lopez Perkinson said that he does not believe that HBCUs do enough recruiting in Latino communities.

He also said that people should widen their perspective on the Latino community, its aspirations and genetic make-up.

“We want education just like the next person,” he stated before adding that people too readily use African-American and Black as interchangeable.

“Latino isn’t just one color.”

The New Yorker said that Afro-Latinos face the racial stereotyping that accompanies being Black plus insensitive comments and jokes about Latinos.

“People believe that we are illegal immigrants and that we’re dirty,” he said.

Lopez Perkinson said that he believes that some of the cultural confusion results from students not experiencing the same levels of diversity in the South that many find commonplace in the North.

As HBCUs, predominately White institutions and junior colleges vie for students, the importance of enrollment and retention remain at the forefront.

Diversifying the student body of HBCUs could help the universities grapple with abysmal graduation and retention rates.

Grambling State University’s graduation rate is 37 percent, according to www.blackcollegesearch.com.