Let me start by saying that although I will be a proud HBCU graduate in the spring, this is not a "PWI vs. HBCU" rhetoric. People have various reasons for attending whatever college they choose. What's important is that black folks get educated, and bring their knowledge back to our people. My future child has the right to go to whatever institution of higher learning that they so choose.
However, I won't be paying my child's college tuition at all.
Unless they go to an HBCU.
Before you roll your eyes and get defensive, hear me out.
The history of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, more often referred to as HBCUs, is rich and telling of the history that black people have dealt with in this country. Before we were allowed to integrate predominately white institutions of higher learning, we had to create our own spaces. HBCUs are filled with such rich history and knowledge, I believe it's something every black person should experience. However, HBCU attendance has steadily declined over the years. Why is this? Is it because we feel that our spaces aren't necessary when we can fill theirs? Or is it because people don't realize the affluent heritage that is all around you at an HBCU?
It saddens me when I hear people saying that HBCUs aren't "diverse" or do not train you for the "real world." While these universities are not perfect, they are definitely diverse. You meet people from all walks of life, different creatives, those with different ambitions, and the best part is the majority of them look like you. As someone who came from a predominately white high school, this was the exact environment that I needed to assure myself of my worth as a black woman. The nurturing and loving environment of an HBCU has afforded me some of my greatest opportunities. No, I have not had all the resources that I could have had if I stayed at home and attended a PWI. Yes, I could have flourished at any University I so chose to attend. But at an HBCU, I got help that I know I couldn't have gotten anywhere else. The vast majority of my professors want to see me succeed, and that is special.
One of the most important reasons that I desire for my children to attend an HBCU is because I know how hard closeted racism is when you are a fly in the milk. Today, in 2016, there are still racists acts targeting African Americans happening on college campuses all the time. My friends who attend PWIs often speak on feeling hated in those environments when racial strife is high. I've heard them speak of overtly racist professors and staff. Being at an HBCU, I truly can't relate. High times of racial strife bring our campuses together because we understand the struggle of being black in America. Of course, there are Black Student Unions and Associations, but there's nothing quite like knowing that the greater part of the entire campus is on the same page as you.
Unfortunately, HBCUs don't receive as much funding as their PWI counterparts. I have not been afforded all the same opportunities as my friends at PWIs, and I don't have the same access to some materials they do. However, my University has taught me how to survive, perseverance, and more importantly, the beauty of black spaces for us by us.
You can have a black student experience anywhere, but you can only get a black college experience at an HBCU.
My future child has the right to go to whatever institution of higher learning that they so choose. However, my hard earned money will only be invested into an HBCU.