Firstly, I find this statement funny coming from people who have never been to an HBCU, but that’s neither here nor there. Secondly, for Black people who defend their PWIs by stating that HBCUs “are only attended by Black people,” I hope you realize that you are subscribing to the false notion that Black people are a monolith. A majority of the other Black people I grew up with were, like myself, varying positions within the middle class and for the most part grew up in the same town. Since being at Howard, I have met and established relationships with more Black people of varying socioeconomic statuses, states and countries of origin, sexual and gender orientations, and religious beliefs. Growing up I was never taught about or exposed to the endless possibilities of the Black identity. Having been to five countries before coming to college and growing up with people of other races of varying religions and lifestyles showed me the importance of developing my worldview, but broadening my perspective of the Black diaspora specifically actually has helped me become more accepting and, most importantly, empathetic of other people who do not share the same life experiences as me.
I feel like the opportunities that your respective institution offers shouldn’t affect your personal career goals. Howard has actually provided me with a lot of access to people and opportunities that I know for a fact I would not have if I went to a school back home in Georgia. This point isn’t valid enough to completely write off HBCUs altogether. My HBCU has definitely taught me—forced me rather—to create the opportunities I want if they aren’t laid out in front of me. This is where who you know comes into play. Howard has also taught me that most of the information that can lead to another opportunity will come from somebody else, meaning that connecting with other people that will share information about scholarships, internships, etc. with you.
This argument is the one that irritates me the most. Instead of arguing how my institution isn’t preparing me for the real world, just advocate for your school and explain exactly how yours is. By saying that as well as sentiments similar to “HBCUs are inferior” to PWIs, you insinuate that Black institutions don’t do their job—educate Black people. You also subscribe to another false idea that just because a particular institution, or any other service meant to complete a particular task is inherently white, that it is better than something that is inherently black. If, by saying that my HBCU won’t prepare me for the real world, that I won’t be prepared to work in spaces in which I’ll have to prove my intelligence and ability to do my job because I am Black instead of simply being able to do my job well, then no. It doesn’t.
Like I said before, having college as a goal is a great thing for all Black people, or minorities for that matter. The entire HBCU versus PWI argument is ineffective, though, because at the end of the day whoever gives you the best scholarship and will make you feel the best about your career goals is the school for you. I’ve said this so many times on my blog alone that I wouldn’t be able to do the things I’m doing now if I was at any other school. As far as post-secondary institutions go, I can’t make any arguments for or against PWIs because I’ve never attended one, nor have I attended another HBCU. I can only advocate for Howard. I’m only concerned with my education at Howard University, because that is the school I attend (are you catching on). So hopefully this debate will die soon and if not, just scroll to the top of this page and read this post again :)