Lessons In Blackness From Yale University’s Black Solidarity Conference » VSB

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Lessons In Blackness From Yale University’s Black Solidarity Conference

(This will be long and yes, that is what she said. There’s a lot to unpack in these words. Grab a seat and come along for the ride. Also, keep in mind, I’m an HBCU graduate so my perspective is rooted in that fact. Perspective is everything.)

This past weekend, Damon and I had the pleasure of speaking at Yale University as part of their 21st Annual Black Solidarity Conference which bring students of color together to speak about issues pertaining to the African diaspora, sponsored by the school’s Afro-American Cultural Center.

You know, I had never heard the word diaspora until I got to college. I wonder if my high school education wasn’t Black enough. No shots fired here, but based on some of the panels I availed myself of this past weekend, it seems I’m not alone in that observation. I want to send a shout out to the students at Yale who put the conference together and invited us up. It was a truly enjoyable experience up in Gun Wavin’ New Haven, CT.

Being as it was a conference dedicated to issues surrounding Blackness, and since it is February, Bey yonce’d, Kendrick went full Lamar, and sharing is caring, I’m going to tell you a bit about our trip, specifically a few things that stood out to me during our time at the conference.

1. HBCUs & PWIs, HBCUs vs PWIs, Everybody Hates Everybody

When I got a chance to check out the schedule of panels, one in particular jumped out at me: HBCUs vs PWIs – Let’s Talk About It.

While I was excited to be part of the conference, what I really wanted to do was attend this talk. See, I knew that this was going to be a room full of largely elite PWI Black students. Nearly every conversation I’ve had about HBCUs vs PWIs happens amidst a bunch of HBCU grads who all attended PWIs for grad school. Full disclosure: nearly my ENTIRE crew from Morehouse/Spelman has graduate degrees from PWIs. So I’ve never been in the room filled with “the other side” so to speak. What I know is that (based on debates that have occurred here at VSB and on Twitter) this topic is highly contentious and not for a good reason but because everybody thinks the other side is shitting on them. It’s like Bloods vs Crips in the late 80s amongst Black people who read for leisure.

The devil is a busy mofo.

Now, the two women leading the discussion had THE best of intentions. In fact, the title of the workshop morphed from HBCUs vs PWIs to HBCUs & PWIs, which is a very important distinction. The two leading the discussion were current students at Hampton University, which to me was a bit of a mis-step on the conference organizers part. To bring two current HBCU students to lead a discussion about differences with a room full of PWI students was almost a set up to fail from jump. But they did their best to lead a discussion about creating solidarity amongst the two groups. But, again, they were going to lose from jump. The initial listing of the workshop as a “versus” talk is why the room was standing room only.

Look, there are a lot of very strong feelings on both sides. That much became apparent when a comment intended to speak to confidence gained at an HBCU got turned into an attack on PWIs and the apparent elitism of HBCU students, an irony that wasn’t lost on me considering the room was full of Ivy league students. To wit, a gentleman who brought a contingent of students from Seton Hall University made the remark that going to an HBCU made it possible for him to not just be a high school teacher but a college professor. As an HBCU alum, I got what he was getting at. It turned on the faucet for PWI tears as the comment was somehow interpreted to be that going to an HBCU allows a Black person to shoot for the stars and that a PWI doesn’t. It was even suggested that he was somehow shitting on high school teachers.

PWI tears are a real thing.

See, what I didn’t know was happening amidst the HBCU vs PWI convo (this talk was a result of all the Mizzou happenings where the divisive ass convo reached its Mt. Olympus-like zenith via Twitter) was that a lot of PWI students were being told they were sell outs for getting their education at their uber-selective admission schools. I’ve heard people shit on HBCUs, but I can’t say I’d heard people shit on PWIs, not that I didn’t think it happened, it just seemed like more of the “folks made fun of me for being smart” thing that people say happens but I’ve never personally seen or heard. Nearly all convos I’ve been a part of have been HBCU students defending why our schools AREN’T second-tier and do manage to prepare us for the world. I’d never seen the part where PWI students felt maligned by HBCUs. Apparently this is a thing. Well shut my mouth wide open.

I’m guessing PWI students just want to go to school in peace and not have people call into question their allegiance to the cause, which, again, turns out is a thing…maybe. It reminds me of the famous Andre 3000 line from “Aquemini”: “…is every nigga with dreads for the cause?/Is every nigga with golds for the falls/naw, so don’t get caught up in appearance…”

Of course, students at HBCUs want to go to school without being accused of being in the 13th grade or only going to class because it’s required to pledge or to hold us over until the next party starts.

But I’m sleep.

I guess that’s hard to address when everybody is so charged. Those two Hamptonians – bless their hearts – became the de facto representative of all HBCU students and their opinions, and they were facing a room full of folks who truly wanted to vent about their side of the debate.  Basically, those PWI students really want us to know that they have feelings that aren’t shielded by the resources, networks, or name on their college sweatshirts. Maybe they go to Harvard, but it hurts when somebody from Wiley College thinks they aren’t Black enough.

As it turns out, we all need hugs.

Speaking of hugs…

2. Blacks In STEM

While at the bar on Friday night, I ran into a friend of mine from Atlanta who just so happened to be there to speak on a panel about Blacks in STEM after our VSB talk. Now, quite a few of my close friends are actively involved in the STEM field, either as practitioners or professors (sometimes both), so I’ve heard a lot of what I expected to hear at the panel.

It’s apparently a very lonely field, especially for people of color. But what I heard from one of the students floored me: she said that my friend and the other two panelists were the first Black scientists she’d seen in her entire life and it moved her to tears.

Tears.

It was one of the most interesting and saddest things I’ve seen to this point in my life. Interesting because as an HBCU grad, one thing I’ve both seen and know plenty of is Black scientists of various stripe. I know a Black physicist, a few actually. I know multiple Black mathematicians and chemists and engineers and biomedical engineers and biologists, etc. It’s something I apparently take for granted. And don’t get me started on Black medical doctors. I realize that going from the Black haven of undergrad to grad school is where many of my own friends found some loneliness, but at least they had their network to fall back on. It’s a whole different beast to operate in a space where nobody looks like you, understands you, or feigns interest in the context of your life. It’s also a life I just don’t know. Again, I apparently take my experience for granted.

I realize that her experience is not an anomaly and there are lots of students at PWIs struggling with being the only Black student in their major and all of their classes and it does suck. It’s why we keep reading articles from students demanding Black faculty in the sciences at these schools which is great in theory, you just can’t manufacture faculty. There’s a dearth of Black STEM graduates and I’m guessing they get swooped up quickly by institutions with long pockets and great resources.

It saddens me that so many of our best and brightest minds are winning on paper but struggling on the mental or social end of things for whatever reason. That brought actual sadness to me. I realize that doesn’t pertain to everybody. Some students of color couldn’t care less, but I’m guessing the majority realize the disadvantage that comes with not having a person to confide in or advocate for you. Though on the flipside, in grad school, I had a Black professor who pointed out that all through his education he made it a point to stay as FAR away from race related study and research as possible as to not get labeled as a race man. Not for nothing, but I definitely didn’t view him as anything more than a professor. My advisor was a very nice white man who cared about making sure I won in life. Point is, your experience is what it is and what you can manage to make of it.

And we still all need hugs.

3. Damon and I talked about VSB and we could have called our talk, “How To Make It With a Super Black Voice In America”

You know what I realized while Damon and I were answering questions about our ride here at VSB? We’re pretty lucky.

Our talk was well attended and the students seemed engaged and asked good questions. One of those was about what we say to people who told us we wouldn’t make it. And I for the life of me can’t remember a single individual who EVER told me I wouldn’t make it. Either it never happened or I just plain don’t remember them, but that question stumped me. Then I realized, maybe a lot of people DO get told that they won’t make it in certain areas. And that sucks. So we’re lucky in that regard, but we’re also lucky in another and its something I brought up while I was talking.

I don’t ever remember thinking I couldn’t do something. At no point in my life have I ever felt limited by my Blackness. I went to high school in Alabama; if it was going to happen, it was going to happen there. Now, obviously I’m very aware that I’m a Black man, but while I know there are institutions intentionally intent on my downfall, I’ve never personally felt stifled by them or maybe I’ve just ignored them wholesale. Even with VSB, I don’t ever remember thinking that there was something we couldn’t do. I had no idea where were heading, but I also never saw a ceiling, and I DID think being Black helped. I love who I am and I’ve never not loved who I am. I don’t know where this #shelfofsteam came from, but in some of the conversations I had with students and things I heard at panels, I’m damn sure glad that I have it because it is not a guarantee. I saw a bunch of students excited to be around Black people doing things as if that wasn’t just life.

My whole life is full of Black folks doing important things and I not only got used to it, I expect it. Just an observation, but one that made me think and inspired a lot of conversation after the talks.

Talking about VSB and our rise and motivations is fun. I enjoy inspiring (such as that’s what happens) and providing motivation and putting a battery in the back of somebody who is at the cusp of giving creativity a shot. I’m all about the arts so it was great to be there to help shine a light on how we make it do what it do while we do it like we’re doing it for TV.

It was a great trip for various reasons, many of which were reminding me that “making it” comes with its own set of struggles. Blackness looks very different depending on where you’re sitting. It’s good to be reminded of that sometimes as it adds perspective and context to my own life. We are doing great as a people and there were hundreds of Black faces that showed this.

And yet, we still all need hugs.

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 panamadjackson@gmail.com.

Previously

An Ode To SWV

  • LadyIbaka

    Ummm…. Bout them STEM tears, you want to tell me, the cryee, only knew of 2 black scientists….i’ont know, but I feel like they were exaggerating. I’m sorry. Jesus forgive me in advance.

    • Sigma_Since 93

      It’s not STEM; it’s a struggle in Corporate America too. I’m the only fly in the buttermilk in my department. It’s not lost on me that we prop up our diversity numbers with White women and a few Indians and they want to pat themselves on the head.

      • LadyIbaka

        I know. My issue is, I feel as though, yes, there aren’t that many, but if you are interested in knowing more scientists-not on a personal level, there are so many avenues available. Black Girls Rock initiative comes to mind.

        • Sigma_Since 93

          At an old job, I asked my employer if they wanted to increase the pool of Black Engineers, why didn’t they travel to NCATS, FAMU, or a NSBE conference. The response I got was silence.

          • LadyIbaka

            Gotcha.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            Ouch

      • That Guy

        I’m about to start a new job at a large corporation. I watched their diversity video and saw one black woman and no black men out of about 20-30 people.

        • miss t-lee

          Try being the only Black woman at your company.
          That’s me right now…lol

          • Quirlygirly

            Me too! In fact I am the first black person to work at this company in over 10 years. That really is a sad stat.

            • miss t-lee

              In 10 years? Dayum!
              I have 2 brothers here with me and we hold it down, but I’m the only chick.

          • fxd8424

            I’ve been the only Black woman at more than one company and am the only one at my present firm, but I can say, they actually treat me well. There is always one obtuse co-worker though. He said he didn’t understand BP burning down their neighborhoods (this was during Ferguson). I reminded him that white people burn down neighborhoods when games don’t go their way/when they get the desired outcome and sometimes just that it’s Friday night and they’ve had a beer or two too many. I reminded him of Penn State riots during the Sandusky scandal and other Penn State riots, burning and mayhem. And the riots in San Francisco in 2010, 2012 and 14 after the World series win. You gotta love the white privilege.

            I still have nightmares from the others. The racism was in your face every day. There wasn’t too much they wouldn’t say. They made certain you were “othered” and knew what they thought of black people. But of course they didn’t think they were racist. But what was amazing was one day, behind closed doors one co-worker said something about me that must have been pretty racist because I heard a lot of screaming and hollering. Then the architect surfaced and asked if I heard what he said about me. I told him I didn’t and didn’t want to know. The screaming I heard was the racist Project Manager checkin’ the other racist. LOL.

    • Sylqué

      It’s not that surprising to me at all. Though I am curious how old this person was.

    • Junegirl627

      I’m not surprised, I worked for a national magazine publication company about 10 years ago in the executive offices where the CEO CFO CMO and COO as well as the Publishers, Senior Editors, and their teams worked and on a floor with about 250 employees 1 was one of 3 Black people when I started. I got laid off the other went to a POC magazine and I was stuck in no blacks land until I got laid off. Plus that is not the first time this has happened. I am usually one of the only if not THE only black person on my floor or in my company.

    • L8Comer

      Depends on where you grew you up I suppose. I grew up in a really diverse area. So all my physicians were black. But I had cousins who grew up in Morgantown, WVV and they’re petty much the only black people there. Same for maybe Utah, Montana? Very few black people. I went to a PWI in VA and there were few black faculty. Outside of my school I rarely saw black people.

      • panamajackson

        One of my Spelman sisters is from Idaho. The real Idaho. She would tell us about how few Black folks she saw growing up. It’s real out there in middle America.

        • L8Comer

          I loved my undergrad experience in VA, but that’s why I could never ever stay there or raise children there. It’s not how I grew up. I enjoyed my time there, but it really made me appreciate home.

      • AlwaysCC

        my mother and father would specifically seek out black physicians, dentist, etc. if they couldn’t find a black doctor, they would choose another minority lol

        • L8Comer

          I think my parents did this on purpose too. I adore my dentist and GP. My parents knew them personally too, so they are like family. When my insurance ran out they would see me fuh free. Hugs and kisses all the time. I plan on doing the same if I have kids.

        • Michelle

          I can see why. It had taken me over seven years to have my endometriosis diagnosed because every OB-GYN that I had (four of them) kept giving me the “Oh, it just cramps!” It wasn’t until my fifth doctor (a Black woman), when my concerns were finally listened to.

          • L8Comer

            The racism is medicine is real. Either they are ignorant or they low key ignore us. A lot of things show up differently in us and black people are prone to different things. My friend is a pediatric nurse and I couldn’t believe it when she told me some white doctor was so perplexed as to why she never saw sickle cell in Reston (white VA area), but saw it so regularly when she worked i DC years ago…just really, truly perplexed.

        • fxd8424

          I do that now. Keep them dollars in our community and make some other BP rich. My doctors, dentist, attorney, realtor, contractor, electrician, barber – all black.

    • panamajackson

      One of my friends who was there found it hard to believe as well, but I didn’t. I was definitely surprised, but I don’t think its entirely impossible. I mean, I hadn’t had a single Black science teacher until college.

      • fxd8424

        I had black teachers from elementary school, right up through high school with a sprinkling of whites. Had a few in college at PWIs but most were white.

  • Kwazi Style

    Sounds like a great conference… I’ll keep an eye out for it next year.

    • panamajackson

      It was definitely a worthwhile experience.

  • RewindingtonMaximus

    1) I feel the Black students who go to PWI were the kinds of students in high school who were accussed of “acting white” and hence still feel that trend follows them into these exclusive institutions. But like you P, I never saw that. I only saw people bashing HBCUs all the time. I can’t front, there was a time where I was not happy about my time with Howard. But I had to rewind the tape to see if I never went there, I would have missed out on some crucial learning curves that I needed.

    2) I’m just going to assume the issue with Blacks in STEM is the same with women in STEM. There are plenty of people on the come up now, but as far as the field goes, it is still very much cut and paste. It’s going to take a while for it to change. Thousands of people vs. a few hundred speaks for itself.

    3) I consider you and Damon to be very much inspirational folks. To you two perhaps, VSB was just a way to get a ball rolling and see what would happen, as you both grinded through your everyday lives and jobs. But fast forward to now, and I say this after being here since maybe 2008…..failure was never an option for yall. I think naturally the progression was in the stars, but you both had to experiment, learn lessons, deal with losses (RIP Momma Young), lose some friends & partners along the way, and try swimming in different ponds first. And you guys did just that. And here you guys both are, in way better positions than before, with families, responsibilities, and insight that trump where you two started at. It’s more than just entertainment and conversations about being Black. This place here is straight up inspirational. Even more so, for someone like me, who’s had a series of dark clouds for quite some time, yall even inspired me to speak up, find my voice, and try. (especially you P, thanks for all the helpful hints about my writing). All that was said just to point this out, that whatever you guys do…this is the response you’re getting:

    http://www.themarysue.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/rock2.gif

    • Dougie

      To your 1st point, from my high school, the black students who “acted white” mostly went to HBCUs. It felt (at the time) like an over compensation. But that’s what happens with Blackness. Every decision is scrutinized from a racial position instead of “well, maybe (s)he just liked the campus, the opportunities, the area, and the people”. I went to college to play basketball, so I went to the best academic school that would offer me money so Blackness didn’t play into my decision at all. I don’t know if I was judged or not based on my decision.

      What I believe happens to people (especially some of the types of folks who attend this conference), post over-stimulating social media, is that they see their high school friends being super black, and the HBCU cats see their PWI friends at keggers surrounded by white people. I also believe that there’s an injection of black pride that gets ingrained in every HBCU student as soon as they touch campus. Which is dope, but it also causes that natural side eye to every other black soul that they feel don’t share this same pride. And being that many things are superficial and based on pictures/memes now a days, that sometimes manifests itself in Thanksgiving/Christmas/Spring/Easter break conversations when people go home.

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        Hmm.. You explained my youthful years pretty accurately there.

        I was the kid who “acted white” but when to a HBCU. I had no pride in the school so I side-eyed everything.

        I don’t really know how things would work out for the better so that we would stop putting so much pressure on ourselves, especially as a race. I just consider the individual struggle to trump everything else in the meantime.

        • Dougie

          I think we’re getting there with conferences like this and demanding more Black faculty, as well as outlets like VSB. Our experiences aren’t THAT different. There will always be the haves and have nots in every aspect of life, but I feel like the more similarities everyone realizes they have, the better things will turn out going forward.

          • panamajackson

            I agree with you here.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            That’s my hope as well. I want to see things turn around for people to stop imagining that everyone else is somehow the enemy and more or less just another person trying to live and thrive.

      • panamajackson

        See, that’s what confused me. I didn’t feel any more sense of actionable Black pride than before I got to Morehouse. Sure I was probably a little more angry, but I wasn’t side-eying the students at Ga Tech or Emory.

        • Dougie

          You went to school before social media though. I think that has a lot to do with the judgment of our peers (and everything else). Now people can “see” what others are doing. They see a picture of you getting a beer from a keg with 25 white people around you and all of a sudden you’re Eldridge Cleaver endorsing Ronald Reagan. You were also an army kid so you saw a lot more of the world than most, and probably had a better sense of self and worldly issues, as a result. That all matters.

          I also think Atlanta is a bit different because there are so many black folks around everywhere.

          • panamajackson

            I feel like you just said, “you don’t count, fam”

            • Dougie

              hahahaha, I kinda did, but in a good way. There are some who have an enriched sense of self and responsibility going into college, whether at an HBCU or PWI. I feel like you were in that category. Not to say that you and anybody else in that category don’t also learn and become better people, but the turnaround doesn’t seem as drastic.

              But I also can only speak from my perspective, and I was a junior in college when Facebook popped off. Nothing has been the same since, including and specifically judgment. I noticed that some of my high school classmates who went to HBCUs side eyed other Black folks PWI college choices pretty heavy, and it seems that Facebook enhanced that.

        • Sigma_Since 93

          I think Hoteps stated / kept the debate going on the yard, ninjas kept flames going back at home, and employers perpetuated it in their hiring practices.

          • Lea Thrace

            ^what he said

        • Lea Thrace

          I was no stranger to the AUC when I was at GT (around the same time you were at Morehouse). That whole you arent down shade was most certainly thrown my way on more than one occasion though not close to a majority of the time. Oddly enough got it more from Clark Atlanta folks and Spelman ladies. Only once that I can recall from a Morehouse dude, but he was a bit hoteppian in persuasion so that probably factored in.

          All that to say, they’ve always been there but I think social media has just facilitated those squeaky and small voices to a higher level.

          • “Only once that I can recall from a Morehouse dude, but he was a bit hoteppian in persuasion so that probably factored in”

            That makes sense considering the source. The f***ing nighttime isn’t black enough for Hotep ninjas.

            • fxd8424

              LOL!!The f***ing nighttime isn’t black enough for Hotep ninjas”

              LOL!!

          • panamajackson

            Interestingly, my freshman year my girlfriend went to Georgia State and stated in GSU housing, Olympic Village that now belongs to Tech. Anyway, she was from DC and one of her boys from high school went to Tech. So one day, me and myboys are visiting her for cable and kitchen, and her boy and some of his friends come thru.

            It was a sh*tshow. Them dudes, I swear, were trying to hard to prove how down they were. There was nary a Blackoff to be seen, but them dudes had something to prove about how Black they were and also how cool they were. I wish I could re-enact it. When they left, we had a freakin’ debriefing on what we had just seen.

            Now, its possible that they were just being themselves though my girlfriend said she’d never seen them act that way, but I feel like they assumed that the Morehouse dudes were on some Dead Mike “I’m Black” steez and tried to fit in.

            We just wanted to watch cable.

            • Lea Thrace

              When insecurity is amplified by environment, you sometimes get an extreme course correction…

          • Brother Mouzone

            I feel like the people from PWI’s who catch all this shade from the HBCU crowd, must have a LITTLE sumthin to do with what their receiving. It can be an unconscious “looking down their nose” thing or just a general attitude or body language thing..not saying this applies to you, but I have observed people who were around folks that they felt were inferior to them, and a lot of time they have NO IDEA the type of vibe they’re giving off to said “inferiors”.

      • Brother Mouzone

        I went to an HBCU (Go Rattlers!) and some of my friends went to PWI’s and I also never heard any bashing of the PWI choice…what I DID hear, however, is a lot of is that whole “how are you gonna learn to deal with white folks” thing and “that all-Black world is not the real world”..as if you’re not dealing in the “real world” as soon as you step off campus..SMDH.

        • Dougie

          That’s the typical rhetoric though. I think that most HBCU students get what you got. I also think that to an extent, it’s kinda true. A lot of my HBCU friends got an immediate culture shock when they had their first internship or got their first job and saw nobody who looks like them. It hits you. Almost similarly to when you go to a PWI freshman year and you’re part of the 7% of black folk. It’s a weird feeling. The judgment within those questions are unnecessary and kinda foolish, but the feelings behind them are valid. Being in work environments seeing nobody who looks like you after having 4 (or possibly 21) years of being surrounded by folks who only look like you

          However, this was in response to the comment saying that this situation is akin to the kids who “acted white” going to PWI’s. I’m not sure you brought up anything new. The surprise in this post from Panama was that there was this reverse feeling of not feeling down. Not the typical stuff that HBCU students feel. Everyone knows about that story.

    • panamajackson

      Thanks homey. It’s truly appreciated.

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        No problem man,

      • MALynn

        I agree, VSB is hella awesome and there was never any doubt in my mind you would be in a deluxe apartment in the sky. Also like you, I’ve never encountered people who explicitly said to me “You’ll never make it.” WTDTA?! Do people hate to your face these days? You got kids at Yale who’ve been told they’ll never make it? Man we are hella lucky then if that is the case. Anyways, I dont comment much, but I read e.ve.ry.day! Great job to you guys, I’d love to have attended that panel!

    • MALynn

      So to your first point:
      Some people like me, who didnt grow up in the USA, were not aware of HBCUs. So when I came to the US for college, I went to MDC, then Barry U (Miami, FL), then after a summer internship at PSU, I went there for gradschool. It wasnt until I mid-undergrad that I learned about HBCU, through the movie Drumline. I was hella mad because it looked fun! But I also didnt know some of them had graduate programs. It wasnt until gradschool that I met someone with a PhD from Howard U. If we don’t know….we don’t know.

      Second regarding that student who never saw a black person in STEM…for real?!? Not even Neil DeGrasse? Not even poor Ben Carson?!? I’m not saying we outchea in mass, but dang. Even if she went to Yale for undergrad and grad… that seems very exaggerated to me. Connecticut is white but yo…

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        I can say this…like all information…you can’t ask a question if you never knew that such a question could be asked in the first place. Which is why it sucks when information is not readily available for people who aren’t privy to it.

        But let’s be real about STEM for a moment. Many of the industries that exist today are still primarily an all-white male group. Finding people of color or even women tends to still be a rarity in many fields. Video games for example, is still a trying field,. Many companies have a staff where all these engineers, artists, programmers producers, etc are working together but the majority is primarily white male, and maybe two or 3 women. Rare to see a person of color in those environments. STEM isn’t that much different. It isn’t that people don’t go to school and become professionals in these fields, but our numbers are not anywhere close to being high, and thus it will continue to be rare for two or three people of color to be in the same room, depending on where they are working.

        • MALynn

          I completely agree with your second point. I was always the only back kid in everything in gradschool. However, I knew that there were women of color in STEM, even if not at my school (in central Pennsyltucky). Do you see where I’m coming from? I know we are under represented, I know we dont have proper exposure, but this was a student at Yale. This was not a student at an obscure rural college in mid-USA. Yale might be PWI, but Yale is in CN, in close proximity to Boston, NY, NJ…all big cities with big name universities. So even if Yale doesnt have STEM people of color in their faculty, I find it very very surprising that this student never ever saw a black person in STEM.

          Panama said she said never…not that she hasnt seen a lot, but she’s never seen one of us in STEM. Bruh… the few black people in STEM most likely went to an Ivy. With the majority of Ivies in the NE USA, this student hasn’t seen even single one?

          Btw, I know I’m debating a moot point here. I know this wasn’t the bigger picture, but it just stuck and hurt to hear that about a black student at an Ivy. We are agreeing on the same thing- lack of exposure is never any good for our kids. But yo…even during black history month they highlight black scientist.

          • fxd8424

            Where did you attend school in Pennsyltucky?

            • MALynn

              PSU college of medicine in Hershey. Are you white and blue?

              • fxd8424

                I assume you mean Penn State. No, I’m not. No disrespect to your alma mater, but they just always left a bad taste in my mouth – at least the campus in State College does. I just live in Pennsylvania, Philly specifically, that’s why I asked. I attended Temple and St. Joe’s. If I hadn’t gone in service right after high school, I would have gone to a HBCU.

                • MALynn

                  Completely agree! I started as state College and transferred to the medical center because main campus was a pile of white privileged kids. The medical center was very diverse, had lots of black folks in big leadership positions, cared about important causes, and gave students a say in how campus was run.

                  • fxd8424

                    State College Penn State always just seemed so racist to me, along with their privilege. Glad Hershey was diverse.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            Trust me, I totally get your point. But from a individual perspective, what do you relate to more: the people you see before you and can personally interact with, or pictures of random people doing something similar to you that you’ll probably never meet?

            We bother know it’s the former. And maybe that’s what this girl was emphasizing. That she wasn’t seeing anyone like her anywhere around her.

            • MALynn

              Which brings us back to what Panama said…if you’re not surrounded by people who are on their grind,you can’t even think of starting to grind. So your environment is key! Thanks for the cool discussion. I always love chatting with vsb folks!

              • RewindingtonMaximus

                No thank you madam. You just said something I need to keep reminding myself of. I’m not grinding because I’m not surrounding myself with anyone, and I need to find people who want to do better, more than just the few I know.

                • MALynn

                  Here is a good place to start! Networking!

                  • RewindingtonMaximus

                    True indeed madam, gotta start somewhere.

                    At least for the moment, a pleasure to speak with you.

      • fxd8424

        Believe it or not there are white counselors at predominantly black, college prep schools who aren’t aware of HBCUs. When my granddaughter mentioned her interest in attending an HBCU, the counselor asked her what is an HBCU. I feel if you are a counselor, you should at least have basic information about colleges.

        • MALynn

          See…that’s foul. Why don’t these prep schools hire black qualified counselors?
          It’s not like there a scarcity of them…

          • fxd8424

            They’ve cut back on a lot of services. Counselors was one. 2 counselors for over 2,000 girls.

            • MALynn

              Jeez…such a disservice. This is why I have kids coming in to my class not knowing even about the basics.

        • LMNOP

          Wow. They have to get graduate degrees and certification to do that too.

          • fxd8424

            IDK what the problem is.

  • Sigma_Since 93

    Did the Yale students elaborate on the issues they’ve had with faculty and their campus police?

    • panamajackson

      Not in any of the talks I attended. If the HBCU vs PWI one was the place for it, it just never had a chance to get there.

  • Eva_baby

    I feel completely out of the loop on the whole PWI vs. HBCU thing. I must preface this by saying I am 43 years old and finished my college degrees about 20 years ago. I went to a PWI. But it only felt like one on a macro, educational level. On a social level we black students created our own social culture and tended to stick together so in some ways we created a mini-HBCU.

    But in my interactions with friends and fam over the years who did go to HBCUs I never felt any of the me vs. them tension that one gets when one ventures onto twitter. So it is very alien to me.

    I can say that when my college friends and I tended to get into conversations about college environments with friends who went to HBCUs it was more of an envy exchange. We were somewhat envious of their ‘saturation of blackness’ they seemed envious of what they deemed our ‘wider experience’.

    I will say looking back I am sometimes regretful I didn’t choose to go to an HBCU, but then I realize I am ultimately glad I went to a PWI. I came from a black family, black neighborhood, black high school. So going to a PWI gave me the room to learn how to navigate socially, politically & psychologically amongst a diverse body in a relatively protected environment. Gave me some of the tools (and yes weapons) that I would ultimately need to wield when I entered a very competitive working world.

    • Sylqué

      “…more of an envy exchange”
      I’ve seen much more of this myself IRL. However Twitter seems to over hype these conversations and that’s where these convos become much more contentious. IMHO

      • Question

        Its virtually impossible to have a dialogue in 140 characters. Not to mention, questions and thoughtful answers aren’t prime for the retweet…

        • Illumina

          I think the best thing about Twitter can also be the worst thing about twitter: it gives everyone a voice.

        • Sylqué

          Eh! Reasonable people can have thoughtful exchanges, but I think vanity, the desire for RT and likes changes the dynamic a lot.

      • panamajackson

        I agree. I think Twitter exaggerated the heck out of all of these talks and turns what could be an off-hand comment into a catalyst in Black World War Infinity.

    • 909girl601world

      I too am 43. And I went to an HBCU for undergrad. Best. Thing. I. Ever. Did. I seriously almost flunked out my freshman year because I just sat on a bench and stared at all the blackness for hours. Yes, it’s creepy in retrospect…but I’d never seen anything like it. My experiences growing up were the exact opposite of yours. White, whiter, lily white, and alabaster everything. I found myself during undergrad.

      Having said all that, I’m tired of this debate. Go where you want to go. Get the education you want. Don’t feel the need to defend your life choices. They are yours.

      • Lea Thrace

        “Go where you want to go. Get the education you want. Don’t feel the need to defend your life choices. They are yours.”

        It really needed to be said again for those in the cheap seats.

      • Illumina

        “Having said all that, I’m tired of this debate. Go where you want to go.
        Get the education you want. Don’t feel the need to defend your life
        choices. They are yours.”

        This logic could be applied to so many other ‘debates’ it ain’t even funny.

      • Eva_baby

        Yes. That is what I mean why this particular debate feels so alien to me. I may sound like I am coming off as “why back in my day….” codger but I can truly say that those of us in my circle whether PWI or HBCU just felt grateful and privileged that we were able to go to college. Some kids literally COULD NOT GO for a variety of reasons.

      • panamajackson

        This is the main takeaway that almost NEVER gets heard. there are so many hurt feelings that people forget that your college choice is yours. What other people feel about your choices is irrelevant.

      • fxd8424

        “I seriously almost flunked out my freshman year because I just sat on a bench and stared at all the blackness for hours. Yes, it’s creepy in retrospect…but I’d never seen anything like it. My experiences growing up were the exact opposite of yours. White, whiter, lily white, and alabaster everything.”
        My condolences on your growing up experience. . . . .LOL! I might have run away from home. All that blackness must have been beautiful.

  • Sylqué

    I went to an HBCU – I love, I love my HIU! #HamptonUAlum
    My lil brother went to a PWI – U of Pitt

    I live in a one of the bourgie black meccas – DC proper, not just the DMV ;-)
    My brother lived for 6 years in Morgantown, WV

    The differences are very interesting in both our experiences and perspectives. I have lots of professional friends who are POC. Meanwhile he kind of had to cultivate and create spaces for the few POC in his area. We’d even talk about how he sometimes felt disconnected to “us” and out of touch, especially when it came to codeswitching. Oddly, while he felt he couldn’t “switch” back, I find I rarely codeswitch at all, since I’m mostly around POC and don’t feel I have to.

    So when the PWI vs/& HBCU discussions come up, I’ve feel like I’ve had a good view of the other side and find the conversations to be mostly overblown – akin to the whole HU vs HU ridiculousness. I mean what does Real HU mean anyway?! Both are very reputable and have their great and not so great points. IJS But I digress.

    But I do think living in DC and the DMV over the last 10 years has put me in a kind of bubble where it’s easy to forget that everyone doesn’t get this kind of exposure to BlackExcellence all the time, like I do.

    • YeaSoh

      Just had to head nod my fellow Pirate. As you were.

      • Sylqué

        Sup Pirate, I dig the avi!

        • YeaSoh

          Preciate it

    • Also shouts to your brother being a Pitt alum and living in Morgantown. He’s a brave man. LOL

      • Sylqué

        They recently moved to Cincinnati, but he seriously contemplated making a life in WV.

    • fxd8424

      My granddaughter has been accepted to Hampton.

      • Sylqué

        Congratulations to her and you! I hope it is and awesome experience for her.

        • fxd8424

          Thanks. I hope so too.

  • Tulani Foy

    I love this article, the findings and the fact that it turned into an “&” and not “vs” conversation. It’s important that PWIs & HBCUs folks understand each others’ experiences — and support one another regardless.

    Having graduating from PWIs (BA & MA), it is a real thing that your social circles and psyche feel deficient when you: 1) look around and find that no one understands your very black experience and 2) that there’s no one to turn to, to dry those very black tears or advocate for you. Fighting the good fight gets tiresome, leading to thoughts of “why am I doing this anyway?”

    Regardless of the experience, I love that we’re all recognizing that both experiences have their challenges and opportunities. And most importantly, when we get those letters behind our names and enter the workforce, we are all black folks out here having very real black experiences that can (and do) bond us as one force changing what it means to be Black/POC in America.

    Hugs for everyone.

  • How you get into the Ivy league and you in your feelings about schooling? That’s so bizarre to me. Having an identity crisis on whether or not your authentically Black because of schooling is weird though. I honestly think that’s entirely a product of Black people on social media though because prior to it, I KNOW that if you didn’t live in the South, you probably weren’t aware of any HBCUs prior to finding a gaggle of people who went there on social media.

    Also, the STEM portion is interesting considering a big selling point of PWI from Black students is that it’s more reflective of the real world…why are you surprised there are few other Black students and faculty then? Hugs for the loneliness and isolation because that does wear down on you. That’s one of the reasons you went there though, for the diversity.

    • Sylqué

      “That’s one of the reasons you went there though, for the diversity.”

      That’s a huge assumption. Some may have while others, like my brother, might have been looking at who was providing the most scholarship money and the best program for his field of study. He’s always been pretty pragmatic.

    • -h.h.h.-

      How you get into the Ivy league and you in your feelings about schooling?

      you’d be surprised.

      then again, i’m old, and we made the best of our situation. *shrug*

      • Sigma_Since 93

        You can add elite prep schools to the list too. White folks assume you are there solely for sports and the folks in the neighborhood clown you or think you sold out. Finding Forrester is a great example of the situation I’m attempting to articulate.

        • -h.h.h.-

          i can’t speak on my school’s current situation, basically because i don’t know enough to speak on it, but when i was there, we did have a dorm -for- POC. and the atmosphere, and the programming, made it feel like ‘home’. that you weren’t ‘alone’. maybe that might be something elite schools / ivy schools should invest in.

    • Junegirl627

      I got Fam in a PWI and they created the multicultural dorm for non white students. Which is why he is having such a great time there he lives in an apartment building full of people who look like him that he can connect with if he needs to. So I get it

    • Question

      The STEM stuff also made me think about groups like NSBE – ain’tchu supposed to be addressing that loneliness issue? Sometimes I think our Black organizations get all caught up in the dope annual conference-turnt-ups, and forget that the day-to-day navigation is where we need the help…

      • Lea Thrace

        You have to find out about NSBE to join NSBE. If you are in an environment that does not expose you to diversity orgs or professional orgs, I cannot fault someone for not participating.

        I’ve seen this very phenomenon in student I have mentored who knew NOTHING about certain STEM orgs because their tiny school didnt have any representation in those orgs. The problem extended to larger orgs like AIChe and ACS. Not just NSBE.

        If you are at a larger school which has those representations, then in my opinion, your argument begins to fall deaf…

        • I mean it’s the year of 2016. We are all well versed in the Google. If I could stumble upon VSB back in like 2009 or 2010 through it, I’m sure if I wanted to I could find NSBE if it was what I was searching for unless I was of the mindset that something like the NSBE couldn’t possibly exist.

      • Sigma_Since 93

        NSBE can’t help you when you’re at Iowa State and there are three Black folk in STEM with different areas of concentration located in different buildings with no classes in common. I was fortunate to have two sistas going through my econ grad program with be but one wasn’t on her grind so being Black really didn’t help me. You have folks in your national networks but sometimes when you need someone in the flesh to encourage you it’s tough.

    • DC Guest

      I can speak to how you can get into an Ivy League school and “be in your feelings” about your experience. I went to Harvard undergrad and law school and I am proud of that accomplishment (and am supported by most of “my people”) but I can say that I had the unfortunate experience of having a few people say things like “oh it must have been really hard for you-poor you’ (sarcasm dripping), “so I guess you’re not really down for the cause” or “at HBCU’s, we really support each other as black students and really get to reinforce our own.” The subtext sometimes feels as though the HBCU student is questioning the “blackness” of the PWI child. I am not sure if this is even a conscious thing but it is definitely a “thing.”

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        Well shade is shade. And it comes from both sides. So while for your experience, you may not have thrown shade back, plenty of others from PWI have.

        I’m still not sure if that’s a class/pride issue or is it just about people being d i c ks.

        • DC Guest

          I think it’s just about people being insecure about their choices–on both sides. I just don’t think people are honest about it and accordingly, that insecurity is masked as “pride.” (And I say this knowing that people from PWIs sometimes do wonder whether they aren’t supporting our community if they did not choose an HBCU-real talk). FWIW, I never threw shade at an HBCU student because BOTH my highly successful parents went to HBCU’s and instilled pride in me about that experience. At the end of the day school choices are about fit, whether it’s academics, social interests, financial considerations, etc. so we all should support that our people are becoming more educated and that’s a good thing.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            Ok, I’m agreeing with you but you might have misinterpreted what I said to you. You may have not thrown shade to anyone, but those that did to you, clearly felt compelled to go out of their way to treat you as such. There’s a reason for that, but since you nor I are those people, we won’t know why.

            I’m all for everybody just getting over themselves & their differences and just letting people be who they should be instead of what they envision they should be.

        • Lea Thrace

          “Well shade is shade. And it comes from both sides. So while for your experience, you may not have thrown shade back, plenty of others from PWI have.”

          This is coming precariously close to the “what about black on black crime” motif that is thrown when people talk about BLM and other such activism. Sometimes we just need to listen and take in what is being said rather than throwing our opinion back…

          • DC Guest

            Thank you. Sometimes people just want to be heard.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            *shrugs shoulders*

            I wasn’t saying what I said to dismiss DC’s experience at all. But he clearly experienced something, and it didn’t just come from nowhere at all, so maybe those same people who treated him as such were just either bad, or felt that had a reason. Doesn’t excuse it either way though.

            But ok then.

        • Asiyah

          I find it fascinating to me that this is even a thing. I never placed too much emphasis on the importance of what college to attend. For example, I never thought a person attending Harvard was somehow better than a person who is attending a CUNY. I felt it was just a name more than anything. I obviously got a real rude awakening in life when I discovered just how serious some people take stuff like that.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            It’s elitism. Which is a part of human nature, because we are always trying to separate ourselves from the herd. I don’t support it but I remember back in my younger days, I had real conflicted views on how I’d be perceived going to a HBCU. But I’m 32 now. I graduated from CUNY. The education doesn’t make me less than anyone else just because my school aint cost as much as someone else’s.

            But that’s just how people are. Always looking for a reason to put other people in the “them” category.

            • Asiyah

              Yeah. When I was 13 I wanted to attend Columbia because I wanted to be a journalist and because of its legacy BUT it was never like “I have to attend an Ivy League or else!” By the time I was a senior in HS journalism wasn’t it for me anymore and I didn’t even apply to Columbia or any of the Ivy Leagues my HS kept stressing. I only applied to CUNYs and SUNYs and it was because of the majors they offered and I got called into the college office for a meeting about why I would choose schools that are beneath me. That elitism sickened me and to this day it still does.

              • RewindingtonMaximus

                The funny thing is due to the economic crash, CUNY & SUNY schools have received record attendance. All these NY jobs still don’t care where you got your degree because they will still pay you $30k a year. And yet somehow through that glaring reality, people still want to play “My School Is Better Than Yours”.

      • panamajackson

        And see that is so surprising to me. I mean this, from the heart, I never heard anybody question a Black student for NOT going to an HBCU until recently. That just never occurred in my life. Even now, I’m super supportive of HBCUs, but its purely about the HBCU.

        I’ve had to defend HBCUs for so long that I’m always ready for that argument that it would dumbfound me if a person from Harvard would say, well I was told I wasn’t supporting the community enough. Pure amazing.

        I’d bet GOOD money that short of maybe Morehouse, Spelman, or Howard, if the choice is Harvard or NCA&T, its Harvard all day.

        These convos really are interesting when you do listen.

        • DC Guest

          And I really do appreciate having this forum to talk about this because it does happen occasionally I would say that it doesn’t happen as much as the attacks on HBCU’s but it does happen. But the good thing is that we are getting better about this conversation on both sides. (See most of the comments on this board). Because at the end of the day our people are doing BIG things and our ability to get education at ALL of these schools is a wonderful thing.

        • Brandon Allen

          I think the nuance comes in when people try to lump in HBCUs together when the dichotomy that exists within the greater higher ed system (public v private) applies to HBCUs as well.
          People try to act like Morehouse, Spelman and Howard, are the same as some of these small regional HBCUs (which are usually state schools) while simultaneously caping for some small regional state school in Maine like it’s the same as going to an Ivy or U Michigan or something. You can’t go to SUNY- West Bumble and talk bad about HBCUs.

          I think for the most part people people are content with everybody getting learn-ed wherever but I don’t get why people are so quick to get negative.

          • panamajackson

            This is very real.

    • IsitFridayyet?

      “I honestly think that’s entirely a product of Black people on social media though because prior to it, I KNOW that if you didn’t live in the South, you probably weren’t aware of any HBCUs prior to finding a gaggle of people who went there on social media.”

      I’m curious as to how you came to this conclusion. The Northern Midwestern city where I grew up did not have a very large population of African-Americans, however, it has a college fair for HBCUs specifically. I know of schools in other cities in my state that used to take high-school aged students on tours to see HBCUs and this was prior to social media. Keep in mind that many African-Americans in the Midwest have family from, or family that currently lives in the south that may have told them about HBCUs.

      • Brandon Allen

        I grew in the Northeast and my mom went to Spelman and I knew basically nothing about HBCUs as a greater thing than Morehouse and Spelman.

        • Val

          Spelhouse is really all you needed to know about.

          j/k :-)

      • L8Comer

        Co-sign. I grew up in Maryland, that’s hardly the south although technically people like to point out it’s below the Mason Dixon line. Ever heard of Howard University? The Mecca? It’s just down the street lol, no social media needed for awareness.

        • Sigma_Since 93

          We’ve had this discussion before but the Bill Cosby impact cant be ignored.

          • L8Comer

            I’m unfamiliar with this. I know he was connected to Spelman. But, he never came up in relation to HBCUs in my household and we loved the Cosby Show. I didn’t know about his connection to education until I was out of college. I guess my experiences are very different from others?

            • Sigma_Since 93

              I’m referring to the tv aspect. He went to a HBCU, his wife went to a HBCU, and the grand parents went to a HBCU although it was fictional. Evey week, he wore a different HBCU sweatshirt and then a Different World.

              I know in my hood, the church trips to HBCU’s over spring break saw an uptick in participation and the United Negro College Fund had tv ads on blast. I haven’t seen an United Negro College Fund had tv ad in years

              • Quirlygirly

                Come to think of it, I haven’t seen UNCF ad on TV in a min. The only time I hear about it is on the Tom Joyner Morning Show.

              • L8Comer

                Ohhh okay, I may have been too little pick up on the fact he was wearing HBCU sweaters, I don’t remember. And yea, Hilman was fictional, idk about the others.

                Anyway, I’m not saying it wasn’t a thing for others or trying to downplay the impact of all that at all. My comment talked about MY experiences personally. That show had no relation to my knowledge about HBCUs or decisions to go to one. Probably b/c my parents, sisters, and a gang of cousins, aunties, uncles went to HBCUs and/or worked at one, so my influence and exposure was much closer to home.

              • fxd8424

                There was an uptick in the number of kids going to HBCUs as a result of those shows. I met a guy just last week who said that Different World was instrumental in him attending an HBCU.

        • In high school, could you name more than 5 HBCUs, not counting Howard, Spelman, Morehouse, or even FAMU? Could you peers name more than 5?

          • L8Comer

            I could. 12 years later I certainly don’t know how many HBCUs my peers in high school could name or not. I’m speaking for myself and my family, not the majority of people in Maryland.

            I guess I could b/c I was in close proximity to two (Howard and Morgan State), I had several family members that went to different ones, and when it came to applying for college I looked into HBCUs and PWIs so I became familiar with many programs. I never realized this was abnormal if you weren’t from the south, on social media, or knowledgable about Bill Cosby outside of his role as Dr. Huxtable.

          • Sigma_Since 93

            Yes. I can thank BET for playing Black College football games at night and my Church for having it’s HBCU pride service every year. Mind you I’m from Upstate NY. There was a pipeline of students going to Morgan State from one church, Lincoln in PA at another, and track heads knew about St Augustine.

          • fxd8424

            I don’t know about my peers, but I could. They were always on my radar.

      • I came to this conclusion as a military brat who has lived all across this country. Obviously it’s not literally no one that knows of any HBCUs because there are two as far as Pennsylvania (shout out to Lincoln and Cheyney), but kids in the south considering going to HBCUs FAR more than kids anywhere else in the country.

        • IsitFridayyet?

          I wonder if more kids in the south are considering going to HBCUs because it may be closer to home. I went to a PWI state school and most of the Black students there originally wanted to go to an HBCU but opted out due to the distance from home and the cost.

          • Brandon Allen

            I mean I’m wouldn’t want to live a thousand miles from home and pay 40 racks for school, seems like simple math to me.

        • Brass Tacks

          “…kids in the south considering going to HBCUs FAR more than kids anywhere else in the country.”

          Agreed. I mean, I remember my first few field trips in elementary school consisted of touring the AUC. Maybe it had to do with a lot of my primary instructors hailing from these institutions. But they definitely had an impact on making HBCU’s that much more intriguing to my peers and I.

    • miss t-lee

      “I honestly think that’s entirely a product of Black people on social media though because prior to it, I KNOW that if you didn’t live in the South, you probably weren’t aware of any HBCUs prior to finding a gaggle of people who went there on social media.”

      Yeah, I don’t think that’s true. Considering there are HBCUs in the North and Midwest. Maybe some of you youngsters are only finding out about them via social media.

      • agreed. why do people always want to blame social media for convos folk been having for decades?? lol social media wasnt close to being a thing when i went to college but most of the ppl who went to my southern HBCU (outside of the locals) were from NY and CA.

        • miss t-lee

          Receipts.

    • To defend my PWI STEM brethren, some things have to be experienced to make it real. You can read all the guidebooks you want, but until you realize that the janitor is the only one that doesn’t look at you crazy when you mention Mase and Ja Rule, it’s hard to understand.

  • Junegirl627

    When my family member was going through the college application/ tour process I told him a little trick about diversity on campus. I told him that when he had a break to sit on a bench or look out the window an count the space of time between seeing people of color walking by. So he told me that he and his friends did this and the worse results came at Villanova because it took about 20 minutes to see a person of color and then another 30 to see the next one. He told me that they stopped and asked the student about diversity at the school and this kid told them that Black and Brown people referred to the school as Vanilla-Nova and that he was transferring out so I feel for these kids at PWI’s. It can’t be easy and it takes alot to be that far removed from what’s familiar.

    • Usi

      I think it becomes hard for them when there aren’t any groups or clubs on campus which is like a safe haven. Part of my friend’s decision criteria which contributed to her decision not to attend a university was because they didn’t have clubs like ASA (African Student Association) regardless of their 12% blacks and African student population. Ha.

    • fxd8424

      I’m familiar with Villanova and it doesn’t surprise me. Just where it’s situated is enough to give any POC who has grown up in Philly pause. It’s situated right in the center of the Mainline, an area of highly affluent, stiff upper lip type 2520s who call the cops if they see a POC daring to walk thru their neighborhood. One such attorney I’m familiar with has many not so pleasant memories of arranging interviews in the area and constantly being stopped by the police after some homeowner reported “suspicious BW.” We used to laugh about why they may have considered her suspicious. Maybe it was the suit and heels she was wearing or the briefcase she was carrying. LOL.

      • Quirlygirly

        Because we all know the preferred attire of a thief is a suit, heels and a briefcase! j/k But it is sad that these affluent types are so used to seeing only people like themselves in the area that the glimpse of a POC warrants a police call.

        • fxd8424

          They see color and lose their minds. There are some blacks in the area, but they and their children have problems. They can’t wrap their brains around educated professional POC living in million dollar homes. Philadelphia Magazine did a piece on racism on the Mainline a few months ago and it commanded a cover. It made me pick up the mag to see what was said and it didn’t paint them in a flattering light. I can only imagine the backlash.

      • Junegirl627

        Which is why I told him to do the watch and see test and talk students of color away from counselors and school officials about what life was really like on campus. I think he made the best choice

        • fxd8424

          I think he did too. I’ve met a lot of people who attended Villanova, none of them black.

  • Sigma_Since 93

    I wanted to attend Morehouse. My high school academic counselor told me point blank White Corporate America isn’t as embracing of HBCU’s yet despite their claims; don’t get caught up in the wash. I went to a PWI but I was very fortunate to have a HBCU down the street. My roomate’s brother attended the HBCU and my social life took off as he took my roomate and I with him to campus to chill. I pledged Sigma, attended CIAA classic games and after parties, participated in panel discussions, and ate in their cafeteria. My senior year, I had more pictures in the yearbook of the HBCU than I did at my PWI.

    Flash forward 20 years, I saw that two of the Alumni from my high school attended Morehouse. Corporate America is better that what it was when I was a senior but there’s still work to be done. I’m thankful I was put in a place where I had balance.

    • fxd8424

      Corporate America has gotten better recruiting HBCU grads. A lot of the big name companies recruit from HBCU campuses. There are always going to be diehards tho.

      • Sigma_Since 93

        Keep in mind I graduated from high school in 1991. It has gotten a lot better.

    • MALynn

      “White Corporate America isn’t as embracing of HBCU’s yet despite their claims; don’t get caught up in the wash…”

      This!! This is why I never knew about HBCUs growing up outside of the USA. All folks talked about back in the Afro-Caribbean diaspora were the Ivies and Big 10s. All the people were bragging about how their kid was a Harvard-Dr. graduate etc…My grandma knows about Columbia and NYU, but she dunno jack about Morehouse or Spelman.

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