Lists, Pop Culture, Race & Politics

A Different World?

It’s no secret that I attended an HBCU. I went to the one that everybody either loves or hates but everybody wants to be like. (Girl) You know it’s true, ooh ooh ooh, I love you.

And do you know why I love you?

It’s because we’re marriage material.  Straight up, like that. Ask ya mama.

Anybody who went to an HBCU will tell you that its like living in a bubble. It’s pretty much a false representation of what the real world looks like. In fact, the real world looks nearly exactly opposite of an HBCU – a place where all the ninjas read and aren’t afraid of information. We all hope that when we leave we’ll enter a world where life was exactly like college but it never is…

…which is why so many Black women who graduate stay single for so long. The second we graduate, there is a significant power shift from the women dominated-choice-is-yours to the male-centric-its a thousand yous and only one of mes dynamic. But that’s not what this post is about. See, I had a revelation recently. A realization, if you will. Plymouth Rock landed on me something fierce and it took three Muslims and two Pac’s to show me the way. You see, I discovered that life at PWI (predominantly white institutions) wasn’t like life at HBCUs.

I knew that, but I didn’t really know that. Nahmean?

See, I assumed that all Black folks shared the same college experience, but that’s not true. Who knew? And what am I talking about? Glad you asked. Here are some assumptions I made about all ninjas in college.

1) Everybody’s college goal wasn’t to live life like A Different World

Nearly all of us that went to HBCUs went and had some expectation of it being something like A Different World. Hell, my experience was a lot like that. Do you know that I recently met somebody who who couldn’t remember Whitley OR Dwayne Wayne’s name? She told me that she’d seen the show but never really got into it. Floored me like four shots of Patron and a Rihanna rendition of “Lift Every Voice And Sing”. I just assumed that all Black folks wanted that life. Apparently I was wrong. And if two wrongs don’t make a right, and three rights make a left, upside down and inside out is the same things as back back, forth and forth, then I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. Bubbles.

Sidenote: What the f*ck is up with Kanye’s videos for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy?  Who would have thought his 34 minute mini-movie would be the best video to come out of the whole thing? The absolute best thing about the “All Of The Lights” video is Rihanna’s boobs. Man, they look lovely. I would propose to them, and even if they told me no, I’d say thanks for the opportunity. Other than that, the video, though colorful seems like it needs to come with a warning because of the epileptic seizures it’s sure to cause. Oh, and Kanye needs a fashion intervention. Thank you.

2) That everybody sat around watching movies like Love Jones, The Best Man, Friday, Thin Line etc…

We pretty much only watched Black movies on repeat. In case you aren’t aware, Champ really liked Love Jones and just saw it for the first time. Which he’s made sure to let us know a few times. He also hasn’t seen a plethora of other movies that were just standard fare at my HBCU and I’m sure were at others. If a Black movie came out, we all went…together. Like we shut sh*t down in the A. The Wood? Check. Love & Basketball? Check. Stomp The Yard? Check. We might think they suck, but we’re gonna go see them and watch the over and over. I thought all ninjas did that.  I mean, we all Black.  Ise ‘ron.

3) College was littered with poets and “Sanctuary” style events

I can’t tell you how many sh*tty poets were running rampant at my and other HBCUs. It’s like an HBCU rite of passage: thou shalt attempt to be a poet. Everybody is required to write at least one poem in order to graduate. Every Tuesday, we had some kind of poetry event, not to mention our Underground Live events. Random celebs would just come chill. It’s where I learned to add “fallacy of reality” and “virgin to the mic” into my lexicon and realized that I needed to talk about my soul a lot. That’s what ninjas at HBCUs do, we talk about our soul.

4) Experiment with religions that contradict your upbringing

If you went to a school upnorf, chances are you there were a few 5 Percenters on your campus. I went to an HBCU, there was like a 5 Percenter smoker, BBQ, and bake sale. We had so many random “religious” organizations and pseudo-spiritual ninjas running around. And these would be the dudes shouting down the white man….except for their white mothers. Let’s just say, there was a noticeable population of “spiritual” ninjas who nobody took serious. I’m not sure if this happens at PWIs but I figured, ya know, there were ninjas named Golden Sun on EVERYBODY’s campus.

5) Spend seven years in undergrad


Anyway, my people, my people, are there any assumptions you had about the opposite situation (HBCU vs PWI) that you may have found out just wasn’t the case?

When did you fall in love with hiphop realize that Black folks weren’t monolithic?

Talk to me.


Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at

  • ProBabyHair

    Awwwwww yeah!

  • Could it be?

  • “When did you realize that Black folks weren’t monolithic?”

    When my best friend in high school told me she didn’t eff with chicken.

    I vaguely remember sobbing myself to sleep that night.

  • asiah

    I attend a PWI in Indiana…I realized black people were different when I started college. There’s a lot of black people at my school that don’t acknowledge their blackness or make a big deal of it. I like to say they that they “don’t know that they’re black.” It threw me for a loop when I realized you could be black but not embrace it at all.

    sidebar – this is my first time commenting on VSB!

  • I attended an HBCU (NCCU. Eagle Pride!!!) and I am glad I got that opportunity because I did attend all white schools my entire school career prior. I was so amazed to be around at least marginally upwardly mobile people that looked like me… however, I did attend school with a lot of “going-to-school-for-the-refund-check” Negroes, I think even one semester that was me, lol. Anyway, I loved my experience, but you are correct it did not prepare me for the particularly different world that existed post graduation. Corporate America was definitely a shell shock, but I felt that the trials and tribulations of the HBCU (i.e. the financial aid office, chicken day at the cafeteria, etc.) did prepare me for dealing with bullsh*t and general disorganization at businesses I worked for. I guess those lessons are just as important as any other… #Shrugife

  • Buxxy

    When did you fall in love with hiphop realize that Black folks weren’t monolithic?

    When I almost had to beat down an Iota sweetheart at a PWI for verbally trying to disrespect me. It hurt my soul to know that beyond me wanting to slap some sense and corrective life choices into her, she thought it was cool to disrespect one of the few sisters on campus actually supporting events. I honestly thought that since we were out numbered at this (or any) PWI that there would be more unity. Lies. HBCU students stick together more. True, we may fight each other… but we will ride out on outsiders for each other too. I doubt that would happen anywhere else. So yea, it took me until grad school to realize that my experience was REALLY different.

  • hehe

    When did you realize that Black folks weren’t monolithic?

    umm I guess always since I’m West Indian living in American most of my life. I knew that Black Americans didn’t have the same culture that I have. It’s more distinct that black ppl aren’t monolithic when you go to college and meet ppl who are richer than or poorer than you. That’s an interesting mix.

  • eb

    I quickly learned that my HBCU was most def NOT a party school nor did I get “turned out” like the skeptics who didn’t even go to a college period thought….lol.however, u could call ol boy from dixon or stewart dorm that had that foreman grill and get a $5 plate!!!…lol. Education causes hunger…ya gotta eat! “Jackson fair, Jackson dear…”

  • Deviant

    I made the assumption that college professors everywhere spoke some form of pidgin English (including “Ebonics” and Old Negro Spiritual).

    I had maybe 5 white American instructors in the 7+ I put in for under/grad.

  • coloredGirl

    I dunno… I went to a PWI… like a real PWI, there were only a few spots of color. But my friends and I did all of the things on your list too… except that take 7yrs to graduate thing, private colleges are too expensive for that ish…

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