In roughly 30 days I will graduate from the Universiry of Tennessee once again, this time with a Masters of Science in Communication and Information. I said this to say that I attend a PWI (Predominately White Institution) the majority of my family, and friends, attended HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). Seeing as my Bachelor’s degree is from UT as well I have never had the opportunity to attend an HBCU. The picture to the left started a fiery debate about being tolerated and celebrated as an African American in higher education and led to the below myths I hope to dispelled.
Below is an excerpt from the MindofMyron and his take on the history of HBCUs and PWIs. Check out his full blog post here .
I am not ashamed nor regretful of my higher education choice and I don’t want anybody else to be shamed into choosing with type of university for the next 4+years. Here are some of the things people assume based on my university choice.
Because I have pride in my alma matter means I have something against HBCUs
It’s as if I was deprived of the Cosby show, Fresh Prince and Different Strokes. I must be uncomfortable around people of my own race. That is far from true. i love being surrounded by culture and the like minds of my unrelated brothers and sisters. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville appealed to me personally, just like anybody’s college choice should do for them. Of course I considered other schools, most of them HBCUs, but I felt the pull to be a volunteer stronger than any other.
I’m too good for an HBCU
This too, is far from the truth. Whenever I get with my friends the topic of college choice comes up and I have some dear friends who defend their HBCU choice to me as if I’m attacking it when I discuss my own school spirit. I love my school, but I also love that they love their school. College is difficult for anybody, because of that you have to make sure you are at a university that will not only challenge you but take you comfortable, give you a voice, and overall give you the necessary tools to grow into yourself t the end of the process.
I feel like my education from a PWI is better than that of an HBCU The majority of my college career I have been a recruiter for multicultural students and those of their main apprehensions about attending UT is they feel like they should go to an HBCU just because they’re black. I try to tell them how I made my decision and that its not easy for anybody to make their decision but it should be theirs alone. In five years when you hand an employer your resume with your new alma matter on it they will associate everything they know about that school with you. Also, more than the academic lessons you will learn the life lessons taught in higher education are vital.
I don’t have pride in my culture and my heritage.
Contrary to unpopular belief there are African Americans attending PWIs, I am one of them, and we thrive here. Just like in the, country we deal with being the only one in a class of majority or have to look past the stares and expectations to speak on behalf of all minorities. I cannot speak for all PWIs but at the University of Tennessee we are a family and despite our different classifications or academic interests we create niches were we are all comfortable enough to grow. We all go to college with the main goal of graduation, and after graduation I want to chase what I’ve missed as I have a stronger sense of connection to my culture now that I have ever had. The education I have gained will only help me help my community.
There aren’t strong, cultured African Americans that come from PWIs
This rumor can be dispelled simply from looking at all of the incredible African Americans that have graduated from PWIs and given tirelessly back to their communities. Barrack and Michelle Obama just two name two that are currently capturing the hearts of African Americans everywhere. no only did they not loose their cultural passion but they have never stopped helping their community despite the names on their degrees. This debate shouldn’t be. the longer we divide ourselves by academic choices the long it will take for us to realize our strength together. In a time where we are still fighting for our rights these small arguments intragoup are only a distraction.
Put your fire under a cause that unites us, instead of one that divides.
At the end of the day I bleed Orange and will Forever be a Volunteer oozing Strong #BlackGirlMagic