As I approach the end of my sophomore year of college at an HBCU (the illustrious Spelman College), I can't help but wonder what my life would be like had I chosen to attend a PWI, like many of my family members suggested. When I look back over the past two years, I realize how much of a safe haven Spelman has become for me. After being in a predominately white space all my life, Spelman, in many ways, has spoiled me rotten. I now prefer to be surrounded by my people at all times because I was deprived of that for so long. Now that I have been in it for a while, it doesn't quite seem right when I venture out of the AUC and I am reminded that there are people that exist outside of my race.
Is my HBCU making me too comfortable?
There have been many arguments made against attending HBCUs (mostly from Black people who did not have the pleasure of attending a fine historically Black institution) that HBCUs do not prepare their students for the real world. In a world where Black people are still considered to be "minorities", (I don't subscribe to this idea for a second, but that is another story) quite a few people believe that HBCUs do their students a disservice by surrounding them by others that look like them. Many believe that HBCUs are great for having the full "Black Experience" and having fun, but that it gets you accustomed to an unrealistic environment, therefore setting its students up for failure. I can not tell you how many times family and friends tried to discourage me from attending an all Black school because after I graduated, I would be "working for someone white, so it would be best for me to go to a predominately white school". Of course, their arguments did nothing to deter me, but the argument is telling and deeply concerning.
The idea that it is impossible for young Black people to work for someone that looks just like them is a product of the way us Black people have been conditioned to think. Because we, often times, only see white people holding positions of power, we have grown up thinking that is just the way things are and how they have to be. Attending my HBCU has not only taught me to recognize this fallacy but the HBCU alumni that I have come in contact with have definitely proved otherwise. The number of successful Black business owners, lawyers, doctors, teachers, musicians, engineers, writers, mathematicians, and politicians I have come across has completely blown my mind. Prior to coming here, I never would have thought that there were so many of us changing the world with our talents. This is why HBCUs are so crucial to the development of Black people.
HBCUs do not ignore the status of the world today, but they show little brown girls and boys that when people say "Anything is possible" and "You can be whatever you want to be", it applies to them too. HBCUs do not exist to bash or exclude those who do not look like us but to provide a space where Black people can be free to find and be themselves. HBCUs do not promote ideas of superiority, but they let Black student know that what they have to say is important and that not only are they worthy of a seat at the table, they are capable of sitting at the head of the table (or even owning the table).
So yes, I have become quite comfortable at my HBCU, but I do not feel that this is a bad thing. Spelman has been a cultivating space for me and has, no doubt, changed my life for the better. I have acquired a sense of self (not only as a Black person but also as a Black woman) that I am 1000% sure I could have found nowhere else. This environment has made me comfortable in expressing myself and being my true, authentic self. I thank God for HBCUs and I wish every Black person could experience all that comes with it.