Thursday, September 24, 2009

HBCU Week? What?

So August 30th – September 5th was HBCU week, eh? Who knew? Honey Mag knew and a journalist/reporter/some chick wrote an article about it. Click the title for the full text. It was a good article, well written for a black magazine. JK.

I was never really interested in attending a historically black college. Well for a moment, I was interested, wait maybe two moments.

I must admit watching a Different World did peak my interest in the black college experience too. It helped me look forward to a world where black did not mean I like rap music, my dad was M.I.A or I was so poor I HAD to eat ramen noodles for dinner. Yes, I was looking forward to becoming “cultured” and meeting intelligent, ambitious young people from cities I’ve never seen and worlds I didn’t know.

My eighth grade class took a black college tour in Atlanta and I really liked the Spelman Campus and learning about the history and traditions was appealing. Yes I fantasized about being a Spelmanite and finding my Morehouse man eventually building a lovely family complete with beautiful, talented, confident brown babies and the customary house with the white picket fence. That dream disappeared in high school.

In the tenth grade I joined the marching band or should I say I ‘’pledged’ the marching band. I didn’t cross until the summer before junior year. Black marching bands seem to be modeled after black fraternities and sororities. So the ‘crab/caste system’ was enforced and it was fun for me. As I became more involved my interest progressed from my high school band to big college bands. Grambling was the best at the time and I strived to be the best and the best bands were at HBCU’s so my interest in HBCU’s was peaked again.

My junior and senior year called for more focus on academics and more research in my future. That research was the death of my HBCU dreams. Let me first say I had heard about the ‘fashion shows’ on the yard, the classism, colorism and legacies, the crazy and often derogatory pledging process, but I wasn’t completely turn-off. It was the weak academics, unattractive campuses and annoying and cumbersome administration that did for me. I remember calling Howard University for an application and the lady was so rude to me. It seemed the process to get into these schools was absurd and the housing, WTF, and don’t even get me started on the costs.

My dad would say, “They don’t have computers, computers are the future. How you gonna compete?”

My mom would go, “I don’t know why you wanna go. You dark skinned, bow legged and I ain’t buying no clothes. They gonna treat you like shit. “

Yes ma’am that’s what she said. It didn’t hurt my feelings. That’s just way we spoke to each other and I knew it was an exaggeration of the truth.

I had to let that dream go. In fact it wasn’t a dream it was an option. My dream was to go to Michigan State University. I wanted to be a Spartan. The campus was big and beautiful, nice and green; I still think my respect for nature was strengthened during my years at State walking the campus and napping in the grass. State had a great business school, the Eli Broad College on Business was ranked #1 in Supply Chain Management and Packing one year, and their efforts to bring diversity to the campus was attractive. Plus State was a party school with great Big Ten sports teams and ample housing. State was the best choice for ME.

I can’t lie; I also wanted a better “real world” experience too. I know that we are not the majority and wanted to learn to navigate in a collegiate world more reflective of the current corporate climate. Regardless of what school you attend I believe that having a strong mentor relationship is necessary for women and minorities, the ole’ boys club can really get to you sometimes. Having that experience earlier was important to me.

I thought and still think that HBCU’s are necessary and the right choice for some people. The people who graduate from HBCU’s are very confident and tend to have big dreams. As the writer mentions Oprah, Diddy and some the greats attended HBCU’s. I just think that quality of education and overall experience of attending a HBCU has deteriorated over time. The same school Thurgood Marshall attended does not exist today.

HBCU’s graduate less students than PWI’s. HBCU’s graduate less than 38% of students with in 6 years. Say what? Google it, if you don’t believe me. Schools are losing accreditation, delinquent on water bills, faculty members are dipping in the pot too often and the egos on these fools are out of control.

Too many times that confidence comes off as arrogance and I have to admit I find the attitudes and mannerisms of some HBCU graduates repulsive.

I always say that I know when someone graduated for Howard within the first few minutes of meeting him; because he'll tell me! I used to be taken aback by their ‘confidence.’ I mean it was almost like they were telling me, “I’m better than you and you are lucky to be in my presence.”
One Howard student even told me, “I feel I am too educated to work here.” Mind you this girl was only 19 and worked part-time with me at a clothing store. Really, you should be running Microsoft?

This isn’t true for all HBCU graduates, I know.

On to the article, it begins with the plight of the HBCU student and then bang!

“But never fear — President Obama — the Black messiah is here to save the day!”

What the hell does President Obama have to with this? He dubbed the week HBCU week, but he did not run off with thousands of dollars stashed in a wax figure of himself leaving the school unable to hire quality staff members or pay for electricity. She then goes on saying the ‘community ‘does not have to stand for the corrosion of the black college.

“Regardless of whether President Obama would prefer to remain race-neutral in his policies, we don’t have to be silent. Black schools are relevant because Black America relies on them to produce capable, responsible, well-educated citizens that are in a position to contribute resources and support back to the neighborhoods they came from.”

I disagree with this one. It seem to ME that these “well-educated citizens” cause a divide in the community and “contribute resources” that don’t come without the sentiment that “I am the great white hope sent to save you Negroes.” Ever seen BET’s Harlem Heights, they make education seem unattractive to me at least. The writer continues.

“Problem is that lately, it seems everything President Obama touches turns to shit. Especially Black things. In our “post-racial” society, any mention of race or racism serves fighting words that leave white folks seeing red. And since the president bears a suspicious resemblance to a man of color who might have deep personal connections to communities of color, there is an intense target on all things Black.”

More Obama bashing? If she didn’t want to appear bash Obama a more appropriate statement should have been, “Everything President Obama touches hateful white people try to turn to shit.” With her original statement she is taking the onus to protect the endowment away the benefactors and on to the donor. Damn the people actually doing the damage. Am I making sense?

This is the root of the problem in the black community, placing blame on others, being the ‘victim’. We then turn into self-indulgent, lazy, useless children with low self-esteem who rely on somebody to save us after we’ve had our fun. Obama has taken Oprah’s place. We use and abuse this person hail them and nail them, one of our own, cause they owe us. I mean it’s only right that I spend my money on clothes and cars and Oprah pay my bills. It is only right that the alumni association/frat throw the bestest Homecoming party/concert/parade and Obama pay for badly needed computer lab. Bill Cosby should come father my kids and buy them sneakers, cause I’m useless and NEED help.

Moving on…

“HBCU students are keeping their part of the bargain and it’s time our Black schools step up and do the same. Provide a place for the real life Dwayne Waynes and Whitley Gilberts to gain a safe, well-funded, community-enhanced, academically-excellent haven.”
No I don’t think HBCU students are keeping their part of the bargain if they were they would not be in this mess. They provide the current images of girls scantily clad in the hallways and young ‘men’ beating sistas in the quads. Alumni and administration should take the blame for the lack of funding and the corrupt administration. The community should take the blame for not holding everyone involved accountable for letting such precious historically rich institutions go down the drain.

Any who, what the flip is HBCU week? Ha!