I write this excerpt on behalf of graduation season, realizing that high school graduates are anticipating their commencement ceremonies and perhaps are moving into post-secondary education. I once saw an argument on a social media thread about Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) needing to, pardon my language: “get their shit together”. Now, the individual who made this assertion was threatening to place their tuition dollars into a Predominantly White Institution (PWI) if Prairie View A&M didn’t improve their professional practices.
I responded with the below remarks:
I don’t think HBCUs have ever claimed to have their stuff together. And yes, the lack of professionalism does become frustrating, but what we must never forget is the very fact that these schools were founded by us- especially for us at a time when we- by law- were not even allowed to step foot on predominantly white campuses. And if a Black or Brown person did decide to step on those all-white campuses, such an act was punishable by restitution, imprisonment and or lynching or beating. We’d rather go to a PWI because some HBCUs lack organization. My disposition becomes how is transferring to a PWI the answer to a little professional disorganization on the campus of an HBCU?
Would you really prefer to pay to experience micro and macro aggressions initiated by course instructors and those students enrolled in the same courses as you (i.e.: Black facing, suffering from isolation and the illusion of inclusion, deprivation from opportunities and or overt discrimination) over navigating a little dysfunction in the Financial Aid office with someone who really didn’t mean you any harm? I don’t understand why we would rather pay $15,000.00 a year, and in some cases every semester, for a degree from a PWI when it’s an HBCU down the street just struggling to stay open. That which, might I add, offers everything you’ll need throughout the duration of your college matriculation and then some. There are HBCUs struggling to stay open today because we won’t invest in our own. And these prestigious institutions, these universities are so willing and eager to in turn invest in us.
I can honestly that navigating the fallacies and disorganization that Texas Southern University (Thee TSU) presented me- is the very practice that prepared me for the real world. Nothing in life is perfect. And so you have to deal with a little disorganization here or there and no, not everybody working in a suite is professional. Dealing with that in undergrad will do nothing less than prepare you for real life experiences. Further, how good does it feel waking up walking to class only to know that the Lanier Hall or the MLK building was founded and built with YOU in mind? Whereas the majority of buildings on PWIs are named after people who never wanted their child to sit next to you in class…. Every building EXCEPT the multicultural affairs or the Office of Diversity and Inclusion or Equity Resource Center building… And there you go running to fund your very own oppression.
This past Friday, on May 17, 2019 the world commemorated the 65th Anniversary of the date of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling to integrate our nation’s K-12 public schools. But until the United States Supreme Court legally orders public schools to desegregate our public school curriculum, college matriculation on HBCU campuses is a must for Black and Brown students. I spent my K-12 school years in the Omaha Public School district of Nebraska. And before enrolling into the Texas Southern University’s Thomas F. Freeman Honors College, I was led to believe that Black history began with slavery. When I got to TSU and enrolled in Dr. Perry Kyles mandatory U.S. History 231: Blacks Before Reconstruction, I learned that Black History didn’t began with slavery. American history did.
Moreover, my experience on a Black campus taught me that HBCUs are birthplaces. They are incubators for racial economic progression. Black knowledge, self and community empowerment are born on these campuses. If you don’t believe me, here’s a brief list of Black and Brown Influential Great’s Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCUs) have produced:
Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.- Morehouse College (Atlanta, GA)
Oprah Winfrey- Tennessee State University (Nashville, TN)
Thurgood Marshall- Lincoln University (Chester County, Pennsylvania)
Matthew Knowles (Beyoncé’s Father) – Fisk University (Nashville, TN)
Sean Combs, P. Diddy, Puff Daddy- Howard University (Washington, D.C.)
And Yours truly, Mynesha Spencer- Texas Southern University (Houston, TX)
The late and great musical philosopher J. Cole once said, “Love yours”. I hereby present the Black and Brown graduating class of 2019 with that same principle, we’ve got to love ours, y’all.