If I Could Do It All Over Again, I Would Have Gone to An HBCU
If I could do it all over again, I would have gone to an HBCU.
Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are institutions of higher education in the United States that were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the intention of primarily serving the African-American community. This was because the overwhelming majority of predominantly white institutions of higher-learning disqualified African Americans from enrollment during segregation.
Back in 2007, as I was narrowing my list of schools I would be soon applying to, I purposefully only included two HBCUs on that list, Howard University, and Spelman College. I truly did not want to attend an all Black college. I went to a high school, located in south central Los Angeles, with a 99% Black population.
While I loved my Black people, I had very fictive imaginations of what college, specifically undergrad, was supposed to be. I just knew I was going to meet the love of my life (didn’t happen), I was going to walk out of the experience with a multicultural group of friends (that sure as hell didn’t happen), and be placed within the elite when searching for employment and post-grad opportunities (that didn’t happen either). All of my expectations of attending a predominantly White institution did not come to fruition at all. While I am grateful for the experiences that I did have in undergrad, if I could I would do it very differently.
How did I come to this realization, more than ten years later? As I move onward and forward in academia, I am realizing more and more there is a great need for Black people to move in and within spaces designated for Black people. More specifically, there is a comfort and warmth within Blackness that soothes an uneasy mind. The micro-assaults on the psyche as a result of being the only Black person in the room, or being asked “which sport do you play?”, or the real kicker, “are you on scholarship?”, which come from people who do not look like you, can have long-lasting effects. I think about how my life trajectory would be different if I saw individuals, who looked like me, talked like me, and came from the neighborhood, excelling in their respective fields. This is not to say that going to a PWI is like getting a tattoo that you later would regret, but I think it has its benefits just as its cons.
I also appreciate those with influential power that are placing HBCUs at the forefront. In her docu-concert, Homecoming, Beyoncè reflected on how she wished she was able to have the Black college experience which fueled her decision to showcase its glory on one of the greatest and whitest, platforms, Coachella. I’ve been to my fair share of AUC (Spelman, Morehouse, Clark Atlanta) homecomings, and it truly is a beautiful experience seeing all the melanin reuniting after some years away from their respective institutions.
Also, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated’s current international president, Dr. Glenda Glover, has pledged to do her part in helping HBCUs sustain. As a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, I have been able to hear firsthand the experiences of Black college life from my sorority sisters. Through AKA, I have also been able to lend my hand to ensure that high school students want to attend HBCUs.
As I near the end of my doctorate program, I often wonder “what will I do next?”. The one option that is always at the forefront is to teach in higher education. I know that I would be honored to teach in one of our historically Black colleges or universities. It would help to ease the feelings that I think I missed out on in undergrad.
Written By: Kandace with a K