HBCU Vs. PWI: A Different Perspective
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Student Life

HBCU Vs. PWI: A Different Perspective

Is it really a debate worth having?

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HBCU Vs. PWI: A Different Perspective
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All right, I'm going to take a stab at the good 'ole Historically Black College/University (HBCU) versus Predominantly White Institution (PWI) debate. I'm going to go ahead and break down the terms because I feel that every race needs to be enlightened on this topic and that the topic needs to be more than just an argument between black people at HBCUs and black people at PWIs. Believe it or not, there are still a good number of people that don't even know what an HBCU is or they think that these "black schools" are a form of racism, which is not the case.

A PWI refers to predominantly white institutions, basically any institution of higher learning that wasn't labeled an HBCU prior to 1964. These institutions usually have student bodies made up mostly of whites, with sprinkles of different races such as African American, Hispanic, Asian, and so on. An HBCU is a historically black college or university, and these usually have student bodies made up mostly of blacks, with the occasional sprinkle of Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic, and other races. Up until 1963, which is when Clemson University in South Carolina was finally integrated, black students weren't allowed to attend PWIs – hence the creation of HBCUs in the 1800s. HBCUs were created as a way for the black community to have chance at a higher education, and that's what they have successfully done and continue to do. There are now over 100 thriving HBCUs in the United States, producing some of the most qualified professionals in all fields and of all races. Believe it or not, there are white people at HBCUs who are proud and thriving.


Usually, the debate goes a little something like this: First, an HBCU student calls a black PWI student a sell-out or anti-black, and then the PWI student responds with remarks such as "I wanted more diversity" or "I can get a better job graduating from a PWI." Other times a black PWI student will start up the conversation with a statement like "A 4.0 GPA from a PWI is completely different from a 4.0 at an HBCU" or "I would've never fit in at a black school."

The fact of the matter is, you all need to close your mouths and open your minds. HBCU students, it is not your job or place to shame every black person that didn't choose to attend an HBCU, because we all have different reasons for the choices we make and there is still a lot of good that a black person can do at a PWI.

Yes, the HBCU experience is incomparable and one of the most enlightening opportunities you'll ever get to experience as a person of color (or anyone, for that matter); it's a cultural experience, and it's everything that they don't portray about black people in the media, but that's another story for another time. HBCU students are just so proud that we want everyone else to see how life-changing and great attending an HBCU can be.


PWI students, you don't get to belittle or undermine our HBCU experience socially or academically. You are not above us because you chose to attend a PWI and at one point in history, you weren't even able to call that PWI accepting of black students. If you are a person of color at a PWI, it is great to see you all taking advantage of something that our people worked so hard to receive, and that is equal opportunity. So, instead of trying to act superior to black students at an HBCU, you should team up with them to find ways to represent your culture at your PWI.

Regardless of any animosity or misconceptions about either type of school, we are all students with a common goal and we all face the same college struggles – exams, professors, balancing school and the turn up, and just generally trying to figure life out. We're all in this together and no matter where you go to school, nobody knows what life after college holds. No one has the right to judge someone else's journey to success and prosperity. At the end of the day, it's not about where you get your degree – it's about what you do it with it and how hard you're willing to work to make your dreams a reality.


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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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