Dear Black People: This HBCU VS PWI Battle Is Fucking Stupid » VSB

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Dear Black People: This HBCU VS PWI Battle Is Fucking Stupid

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There’s been no shortage of words used to attempt to describe and encapsulate “Black Twitter,” which has been defined as everything from a cultural identity on the Twitter social network focused on issues of interest to the black community” by Wikipedia to (paraphrasing) “the digital version of what happens at the 24-hour Walmart in Huntsville, Alabama” by Panama on a panel at Harvard we were on earlier this year.

It also can be a virtual version of spare ribs and collard greens — where racial antagonism leads to the discovery of a product that proves to be savored, vital, and ultimately positive. We saw it when Ferguson and Baltimore happened and we used Twitter as both a fulcrum and a conduit for protest and activism. We saw it with the genesis of #BlackLivesMatter. And yesterday, as we witnessed the latest round of “America Aint Built For Black People” Bingo — this time, being played at the University of Missouri — the #BlackonCampus hashtag was born, allowing us to bond and connect over recollections of our experiences on college campuses.

Unfortunately, as day went on and the stories — some humorous; some harrowing — continued to be shared, another sub-conversation emerged, this one pitting Black people who attended HBCUs against Black people who attended PWIs (predominately White institutions). Now, spirited debates comparing the respective merits, benefits, and challenges of HBCUs and PWIs as they relate to Black students is healthy, welcome, and necessary. Especially for people — high school students, particularly — still deciding which institution they’d like to attend. The more they know about each, the more informed their choice will be.

But while those types of debates did occur, a nasty pissing contest between Black grads of HBCUs and Black grads of PWIs, where both sides managed to be both insulting towards the other and defensive, also happened. This was not the first — and it definitely won’t be the last — time I’ve witnessed this strain of argument. It’s presumably been happening for as long as Black people were able to attend PWIs, and I’ve seen it at happy hours, in email threads, at game nights, on Facebook, and even here at VSB.

And every time it happens, it’s fucking stupid. In fact, the argument gets progressively stupider and makes exponentially less sense every time I hear it. Basically, this argument is Ben Carson.

Namely because there is no universal “right” path for any Black person, let alone any Black person with post-secondary aspirations. It goes without saying that HBCUs are considerably more likely to be sensitive to and accommodating of the needs of Black students, but that alone doesn’t make the HBCU the right choice for every Black student. There are myriad factors that contribute to where someone decides to go to college. Some “Vital” with a capital “V” (degree programs, financial aid packages, scholarship money, proximity to family, family legacy, etc) and some “vital” to an 18-year-old (number of cute girls, proximity to bars, answers to questions like “Are the dorms close enough to campus for me to consistently attend class in pajamas?”, etc). But all part of the labyrinth of details considered when making that decision. Sometimes it leads you to Morehouse. Sometimes to Missouri. But neither choice is inherently right or wrong. What only matters is if its right or wrong for you. 

Also, while I’m usually not in the business of playing the “This is what Black people should and shouldn’t do” game, I can’t think of any dumber exercise than a group of Black people insulting, downplaying, dismissing, and discounting the college experiences of other Black people because of the university they chose to attend. And, as well as being dumb as fuck, it’s racist. Yes, racist. By reflexively devaluing the merits of HBCUs you are no different from a White person who believes traditionally Black entities are inherently inferior. And by insulting Blacks who chose to attend PWIs, you are no different from the White person who believes that any Black person who chooses to deviate from their idea of what the “universal Black experience” should be is somehow less Black.

That said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that there’s a very real and specifically American context to HBCU grads being defensive. Because it’s the business of America to devalue both the contributions and the value of Black Americans, and this sickness is so pervasive that it has infected many of us (Black Americans) too. So, it’s understandable when an HBCU grad defending this value and these contributions crosses that thin line separating “wagon circling” from active antagonism. But it being understandable doesn’t make it right.

Anyway, lets all just stop doing this please, so we can focus our energies on more pressing matters. Like “When is Kyrie Irving coming back?” (soon, hopefully) and “Is WGDB the worst song of the year?” (Yes, probably.)

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • This debate was always ultra-stupid to me. I just dap up folks for graduating and keep it moving.

    The person responsible for that song needs to be beaten about the head with a croaker sack filled with potatoes.

    • PaddyfotePrincess

      This debate is old, lame and tired. As long as your choice of school works for YOU, that’s all that matters. I enjoy Twitter, but it seems that people want to argue just to argue. About nothing. And everything.

      • Amen! If ninjas will cape up for Apple or Android on Twitter they’ll definitely run this into the ground while missing the point of black folks getting an education.

        • Apple is terrible though.

          • That’s…that’s fine, Malik.

          • You just mad you can’t FaceTime

            • tgtaggie

              I’ve been an Iphone user all of 4yrs at point. I don’t think I ever had anyone facetime me.lol.

              • You need better friends

                • tgtaggie

                  I’m well aware of that lol

            • No, I’m just a proponent of open source development systems when it comes to computers (which all phones are now). You get greater innovation and influx of ideas that way.

              • Blah blah blah. You probably don’t even use your little Android to half of its capacity anyway.

                • Of course not. I haven’t developed anything on a computer in like 10 years at this point. It’s a philosophical agreement not something I practice.

        • TeeChantel

          Exactly. That was my first thought – we’re all getting an education so what’s the problem?

          • Charles Johnson

            gurl did you change your avi? it looks nice!

            • TeeChantel

              Thank you.

        • PaddyfotePrincess

          “While missing the point of black folks getting an education.”

          They don’t hear you, though.

        • PhlyyPhree

          “missing the point of black folks getting an education”

          Just one more time for the cheap seats

  • TeeChantel

    Sounds like the #TeamNaturalHair and #TeamPermedHair argument.

    • Lea Thrace

      That is also on the the Dumbest Argument List.

      • TeeChantel

        Folks cape for either side. It makes me ask what are the benefits of going to so hard though?

        • QuirlyGirly

          Right because people are going to do what they want anyway.

        • the_spiral

          The ego rush of feeling superior to other people in the same situation as you. What’s new?

          • QuirlyGirly

            And that is it. Someone has to be correct, right and superior,why not me?

            And in reality we are all just trying to figure out life making the best choices we can with the information we have. So no one has a leg up-so to speak.

          • TeeChantel

            Right. That and people have to be part of the “in” crowd. If I’m in the “cool kids” group and you are not, then I’m automatically better than you.

        • esa

          aggression feels like pleasure for a lot of people ..

          • TeeChantel

            Sad, but true.

    • Dyiva Kinney

      I’m not sure I agree. I am collecting hair journey stories. It started out as something I wanted to do to give other women who were considering going natural the confidence they needed, but it turned into something else. Personally, I returned to natural in 1996. I vowed not to perm my hair until I felt comfortable with my own hair. Here we are years later and occasionally I still struggle, especially dating. Don’t get me started on dating and hair.

      My point? Those of us who feel ‘uncomfortable’ with our own hair is not an analogy for HBCU::PWI argument. It’s an oversimplifcation of choice vs choice, but there are some similarities. One’s personal self-esteem and self-worth is not necessarily directly related to their choice of school. One’s inability to choose one’s self because it’s not socially accepted is a different ballgame altogether. #Iamthenaturaltype #thenaturaltype

      • TeeChantel

        Respect, Dyiva. The argument I was trying to make is basically about one group or a team of people “feeling superior” over the other. Right here on this very thread you can see comments about those that attended a PWI feeling more superior to those that went to an HBCU, and vice versa. It is the
        same train of thought with the TeamNatural and TeamPermed argument. And trust, when I was natural I was approached differently, treated differently by men and #TeamPermed women for not having a perm. When I had a perm, I was shamed by #TeamNatural for having chemicals in my hair. However, I love myself enough to love my hair no matter what state is in. My point is people need to let people just be – whether you attend an HBCU or PWI or if you’re Natural or Permed let’s all just dap it up and be happy that we are alive.

  • Lea Thrace

    I was over this argument before it even started. It is about the dumbest thing I have heard all week. In a week where there was a GOP debate. THE DUMBEST. Like Why??!! We all got an education right? And different experiences out of that. So what the frick is the big deal. UGH.

  • RU Scarlet

    Light skin vs Dark skin
    Natural vs Anything else (because God forbid!)
    HBCU vs PWI
    And the list goes on…

    Can we find ways to acknowledge & appreciate diversity without being so acrimoniously divisive about it?

    The only argument that matters is Coke vs Pepsi (and that’s not much of a debate-Pepsi is obviously the right choice)

    • QuirlyGirly

      Can we stop finding ways to acknowledge diversity without being so acrimoniously divisive about it?

      If I could upvote this a million times I would. Can people have options and choices without all the condemnation. We are not a monolith-right?

      • black-a-rican

        Unfortunately, people don’t know how to operate independent of the examples they witness in the media and have forgotten how to appreciate those with a different experience than theirs.

        • RU Scarlet

          Some have forgotten, and many never learn; “other” is neither appreciated nor respected.

        • QuirlyGirly

          So true- Variety is the spice of life- if I can quote a cliche

        • scott

          And we can all thank the thirty years of conservative social propaganda we’ve been subjected to as a society where anyone who isn’t “White” and “Christian” is simply not real.

        • OxG

          20 points for the handle alone! Hahaha!

          • JulienKennedyDrake

            The handle is redundant, Ricans are Black… lol

      • RU Scarlet

        No, but as black-a-rican points out, appreciating diversity is a lost art.

    • Nope.

      Black people were baby boomers too, and a whole bunch of stupid tendencies have been passed down. Here is a perfect example of a vice that we inherited, where personal identified brand is more important than personal achievement. At least with coke and pepsi, few if any lose sleep if their brand gets attacked, and thus no one really cares.

      • RU Scarlet

        Valid point…the Coke v Pepsi was a joke, but I get it.

        I’ve seen people almost come to blows over sports (MJ v Lebron) & pop star fandom (Beyoncé v The World), so I understand that any and everything is fair game when drawing lines in the sand.

        It still makes no sense.

        • QuirlyGirly

          Like someone said up thread what do you get out of capeing so hard for either thing?

          • esa

            some folks seem to enjoy irrational forms of stress release ..

        • Well it does make sense if you look at it from the context of America as a whole; this is a trend. This is how Americans argue about things that are pointless and have no meaning, i.e. things that have no business being argued about.

          It’s also kind of different from arguing about celebrities, fans are fanatics: they know who they are. People arguing over PWI and HBCUs don’t and this isn’t a black problem either: anyone who subscribes to the politics/economics of the 1% vs 99% is in the same boat as well.

          • RU Scarlet

            Sad indictment on our society, but I can’t find a lie in there anywhere.

          • NomadaNare

            “anyone who subscribes to the politics/economics of the 1% vs 99% is in the same boat as well.”

            ?

            • Lol,

              It’s simply just branding, without content.

              According to the stats:

              The 1% is anyone who makes over 350K a year.
              The 99% is anyone makes under 350K a year.

              Do you actually believe that the person making 250K a year vs the person making 28K a year have the same views on economics or politics? Or do you believe the person making 350K a year has the same view on economics and politics to the person making 100m a year in bonuses on Wall Street?

              • NomadaNare

                Id go more with the former as those in the upper end of the 99% (or the lower end of the 1%) still happen to be wage workers and will have many of the same problems as the person making 28K a year with regards to wealth disparity taxes and access to the political system

                • I get that, my point is that the 1% and the 99% labels are more brands, than actual meaningful terms. There are people who make 250K a year (senators), who have more influence over American politics and power than people who make millions a year (Athletes for instance).

                  It’s why a ton of people who make millions can speak out and even fund the movement under the umbrella of being under the 99%. It’s once again a brand or a symbol, not the content. 1% = pro-wall street, big corporations, multi-nationals and the banks; 99% = everyone else.

                  The fact is though, that the numbers lie, and the ideologies and what actual human beings believe politically doesn’t match up with the slogan.

              • awesumtenor

                If that person is black, he should…affluence does not exempt the black person making 250K from being treated like a wet food stamps by a white cop making a fraction of that…asks James Blake…

          • awesumtenor

            PWI VS HBCU is just a variant of the Clark doll test used in Brown v. Board..

    • Val

      I prefer RC Cola.

      • That’s really country of you, Val.

        • Nick Peters

          +1

        • Val

          And if I get hold of a bottle of RC Cola I’m liable to put some peanuts in it. Lol

          • Extra country points for the use of “I’m liable to” “RC Cola” and “put some peanuts in it” in the same sentence.

            • Val

              *takes a bow*

          • TeeChantel

            May I ask, why put peanuts in cola?

            • Val

              Welp. they taste good. Something about the salt and the cola, I suppose. It’s sort of a down south tradition.

              • TeeChantel

                Oh okay, i never heard of that before. i’ll have to try it out one day.

                • PhlyyPhree

                  I’ve heard of that. My mother said she used to do it. I’ve never tried it. was never a huge fan of pickles anyway

                  • QuirlyGirly

                    See I love pickles but I can’t eat them all the time. Them thangs be having me sweating and hot.

              • I put salt in my beer from time to time.

              • Darren Nesbitt

                I’ve always thought putting a peppermint stick in a pickle was normal and tasty. Now living in New York my coworkers didn’t believe me until I goggled them a photo of it.

                • ……

                • Val

                  I’ve never heard of that one. What part of the South do they do that?

                  • Darren Nesbitt
                    • This looks terrible…..

                    • Darren Nesbitt

                      Hey I can’t disagree with you on looks but I’ll stand by the taste. It’s oddly refreshing when the peppermint seeps in. Crazy I know.

                    • OxG

                      That looks scary. But will try.

                    • That looks like apartheid.

                    • QuirlyGirly

                      *Crackles

                    • OxG

                      Dead!!!

                    • Val

                      Once again I’m learning new stuff here at VSB. It looks weird but I’d try it just to say I did. Lol

                    • SirKnows DevoidofPunk

                      hipsters ruin everything… all the every things.

                    • Cleojonz

                      I have never ever seen this before. You learn something new everyday!

                    • This is the finest display of ni66atry cuisine that I’ve ever seen….lmao

                  • awesumtenor

                    Virginia and North Carolina …

                • sharitaatx

                  I still do it today! Love me a peppermint in a pickle!

              • PhlyyPhree

                My dad does that. I never knew why, but I guess it’s just a country thing. Lol

          • Nick Peters

            huh?

            • TeeChantel

              See response below.

          • DG

            Is Tang your morning beverage of choice too? ?

            • Val

              Is Tang a Southern thing? As opposed to just being a really old outdated thing? Lol

            • Omg do they still make that powdered trash??

          • Tom LaBelle

            Thanks. I literally laughed out loud and got a stern look from my boss. Everything is good now because I showed him your post to which he smiled, nodded, and said he understands.

      • QuirlyGirly

        I have low brow tastes so I prefer whatever is on sale because #broke

        • PhlyyPhree

          WHOOP!
          Water for the L-O…

      • Ewwww. Love yourself Val.

        • Val

          Coke has a bitter aftertaste. Pepsi is too sweet. RC has no bitter aftertaste and isn’t too sweet. Plus, it has more carbonation,which makes it more refreshing. :-) There’s nothing like an ice cold RC Cola on a hot summer’s day.

          • CheGueverraWitBlingOn

            Val droppin’ science. file under #true *2 chainz voice”

      • RC Cola tastes like burnt grease.

        • Val

          Why hello, Dara. Lol

          *waves*

          • Hey Val Heeeey!

        • Ditto

        • -h.h.h.-

          is this what it takes to get you out of lurking?

          you know how many times i’ve posted that Trump gif? sheesh. now i know.

          lol

          • Ha! I’ve barely been lurking! I’m now a Marylander and I’m 5 mos pregnant. I’ve been SLEEPING lol

            • !!!!!! A BABY BROTHER OR SISTER FOR BEAN!!!!!!

            • Val

              Congratulations!

            • esa

              congratulations ~*~

            • PhlyyPhree

              Yayyyy. Babies!!! I love people (who aren’t me) that have babies! Congrats

            • Cleojonz

              YAY!! Congrats I hope you are having an uneventful and safe pregnancy.

            • NomadaNare

              Congrats

            • KristeenA

              Congratulations!

      • The 9-9…& the 2000

        I just shouted. As someone who’s been either brave or stupid enough to go the RC Cola & Moon Pie festival, I support this ministry

        • Val

          You are brave going there. I can only imagine who the majority of attendees would be. But I’ve eaten my share of Moon Pies. Only the chocolate ones though.

          • The 9-9…& the 2000

            You’re exactly right about the demographics lol I went while the sun was high & left after 2 hours, right before they crowned the new Miss RC Cola

      • Cleojonz

        Ewwww. I can’t really judge though I actually prefer my local grocery’s brand over everything else, but coke is better than Pepsi.

      • Not country, but I LOOOOVE me some RC Cola. My boys back home in BK look at me like a giant, bubbling zit on the forehead. I’m like…

    • TeeChantel

      The light skin vs dark skin argument is stupid, but unfortunately it will stick around for years to come.

      • RU Scarlet

        Truth…I grew up being called every variation of crispy, crunchy, burnt, etc by my aunts & uncles. I still side eye family members who raise the conversation (and they do, lol),

    • Brandon Allen

      The funny thing about the team natural vs. Anything else….was that I guess until maybe 8 years ago or so, the (God Forbid) was on the other side. I think all three of those dichotomies really fall between middle to upper class negroes who find themselves elite, for whatever reason, (Legacy, skin color, education) against the regular folk.

    • Sigma_Since 93

      No.

      Ethnocentrism and the need to stand out will always exist.

      • RU Scarlet

        I understand that. It’s the de-evolution into anger & bitterness that gets me. And I know it’s not behavior limited to Black people.

        • Sigma_Since 93

          It’s the economizing paradox at its finest combined with legislation that was implemented to level the playing field. Am I ticked off because I feel I was better than you and you were chosen? Am I ticked off because I now must share power / influence with your or I lost power / influence because of you?

    • NapkinsAndCommas

      Everything except that Pepsi conclusion.

      • RU Scarlet

        Lol

    • Baemie St. Patrick

      YES PEPSI

      • RU Scarlet

        I’m clean now, but back in my (soda) drinking days…! Lol

    • The only thing that matters is what king of liquor the cola is mixed with.

      • RU Scarlet

        I’m actually off the hard stuff, but I still like the liquor. ?

        • QuirlyGirly

          LOL- you kicked that nacotic

          • RU Scarlet

            Had to. That sugar is no bueno!

    • Cleojonz

      I upvote you except for the Coke vs. Pepsi part. You are a daggone liar on that one. Everybody knows Coke is the real thing.

    • RagingNatural

      “The only argument that matters is Coke vs Pepsi (and that’s not much of a debate-Pepsi is obviously the right choice)”

      I’m from New Bern, NC and I approve this message!!!!

    • Denise Richardson

      WOW, HBCU Vs. PWI is NOT the same as Light-Skinned Vs. Dark Skinned. You’re not clear on why HBCUs existed in the first place. They are not perfect institutions, but understand what they are about, what they’ve done, and Black students’ experiences in them!!

      • RU Scarlet

        Calm down, exclamation points. I’m married to a proud Rattler. You have no idea what I am and am not clear on.

        My point was about the lengths to which we sometimes go to in the Black community to separate and rank ourselves. It had nothing to do with the need for and value of HBCUs. Never once did I say the were perfect or imperfect. I try to avoid dealing in absolutes and making generalizations.

    • Writingprincess

      Agreed. Coke sucks.

  • Twitter is kinda like a toilet: you can throw in a whole bunch of diamonds in it, but eventually it will flush and the diamonds will end up mixed with all the other human waste that came down the same drain.

    • I once compared it to a really great barber shop with great conversation, entertainment, and skilled staff. Then you find out there are rooms filled with runaways being pimped, forced to cut coke, and cook sub par barbecue.

    • bigheadbaby

      So right. Excrement distilled down to its essence. I vow not to let myself get drawn into battles online and then I do it again. I feel so dirty and debased afterward. I am slowly learning not to take the bait. The days when I manage to resist being drawn into pointless arguments that delve into personal insults, I feel so clean and happy…LOL

  • Freebird

    Folks can do whatever they want for their reasons and I wouldn’t hold it against them. Not my health. But my son would not go to Missouri and my daughter would not go to Yale, and they would understand why.

  • fxd8424

    “By reflexively devaluing the merits of HBCUs you are no different from a White person who believes traditionally Black entities are inherently inferior.”

    I hear BP devaluing HBCU’s all the time as in “the WMs juice is sweeter.” And not just the older BP. Generally, not one of these people have stepped foot in a college, but feel they are qualified to speak when all they are really doing is regurgitating something they heard others say. I bumped into one such young lady at a College Fair with my granddaughter a couple of weeks ago.

  • Black people have a very dichotomous relationship to . . . everything if we’re being honest. The “you’re either with us or against us” is one of faults to any culture that feels they should be as tightly woven as Black Americans feel. Any deviation from that feels like abandonment.

    • -h.h.h.-

      which is ironic, considering the vibe i get from the ‘black sjw’ types is that they want…’freedom”***

  • Charlyn Lenore

    Also this “debate” is almost always started by some extremely inflammatory tweet or post. It draws in the fellow extremes in agreement. Then it snares a usually level-headed person who happens to follow or be friends with a fringe extremist.
    If I find myself in these conversations fighting both sides I have to Stop Breathe and make myself off. Big Mama said don’t argue with idiots for a reason.

  • -h.h.h.-
    • Kim

      this will never not be funny

    • I can’t prove it but I’m sure Trump is an animatronic puppet who became self-aware and went rogue.

      • -h.h.h.-

        we made him with ENIAC. lol.

      • bigheadbaby

        ROTFL

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