To My Dearest Bennett College Belles » VSB

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To My Dearest Bennett College Belles

Over the past week, some simmering tensions have reached a fever pitch, ignited by an article written by an alumna of Bennett College, Aziza Jackson, calling for the end of the brother-sister relationship between Morehouse College and Bennett College because Morehouse sucks. While Ms. Jackson takes out most of her frustrations on her fellow “brothers” from Morehouse, she does manage to slide in some shade at the “low-hanging fruit” across the street. Of course, that would be Spelman College, the school that most people associate with Morehouse (and most of us Morehouse Men associate ourselves with). What followed were other articles from Bennett Belles feigning ignorance at how any woman from Spelman could take such words as disrespect (I’m sure that entire article was written with a wink) and articles from Spelman women responding to the “clap back” articles from Bennett. And in the middle of it all, I think Brick killed a guy.

And apparently – though I didn’t see any of it myself – Twitter became a firestorm of back and forth between past and current students of Morehouse, Bennett, and Spelman. I’m sure that was a real brouhaha.

Let’s just start with the obvious: what you’re not gon’ do is call Spelman low-hanging fruit, then hide your hands and pretend it was ONLY meant to mean “next door”. Everybody knows what low-hanging fruit means. It’s even pejorative when people are literally picking fruit. Look, I have love for my Bennett sisters, but let’s be real, there was NO way that shade was going to be left alone. What started out as legitimate frustration (we’ll get to this in a moment) ended up looking like bitterness because of some alleged second-tier status on the Morehouse ladder, which is a problem in and of itself. It ends up looking like a group of women upset that the “constitutional” leverage they’re granted by admission to Bennett for the adoration of Morehouse Men got usurped solely because there are a group of women across the street that we see everyday.

Instead of beef with Morehouse, it looks like beef with Spelman. And beef, shit, Spelman women overcook that meat. Do you remember what they did to Nelly? Also, the beef angle looks funny because I’m sure quite a few Spelman Women are definitely looking at their Morehouse counterparts with the exact same disdain, specifically BECAUSE they got to spend every day with us.

There is indeed a thin line between love and hate. And it is called Westview Drive.

But let’s get back to the frustration that some (obviously not all) Bennett Belles have with their brothers from Morehouse College. The main issue – and it is a fair one – is that, for the most part, the brother-sister relationship is more of an idea than an actuality. There is very little done to foster a true sense of brotherhood and sisterhood between the two schools. This to me is a legit concern. Hell, I didn’t even know Bennett College existed, let alone that they were our official sister school, when I got to Morehouse. Though full dislcosure, I’d never heard of the majority of schools that were on our football schedule, either. Apparently my Black college knowledge was less than stellar. Point is, I found out that we had a sister school way up in North Carolina, but I had my own Spelman Sister from Philadaelphia who I could hang with after class on the steps of Gloster every afternoon. And we were fast friends. It’s not that I didn’t care about Bennett College. Quite the contrary, I thought it was cool that if I were to ever run into a woman from Bennett, I could point out that she was my sister.

But for four years, I had my Spelman sisters. I even took tons of classes at Spelman. I love Spelman and I love the many women I came to know and love from there and the relationships I was able to build that still exist today. ALL of my closest friends either went to Morehouse or Spelman. On the Bennett hand side, I can count on one hand the number of women I know from Bennett. Now, the two who immediately come to mind are great women, but I only know two.

If Bennett women were coming down for homecoming while I was in college, I either had no clue or wasn’t cool enough to approach any. But most likely, I just had no idea. During homecoming we’re all walking around tailgating and really enjoying the moment. Nobody is taking the time to ensure they’re fostering constitutionally bound relationships. Morehouse College AND Bennett College could have done more to create a sense of community between our two schools. There could have been some kind of event specifically created to make sure we all got a chance to meet. That falls on the backs of both schools. This is something I could get behind.

But it didn’t happen or hasn’t. And I wasn’t active in the student government so I have no idea if leadership from the two schools do any real connecting or not when it comes to homecoming. So while I get the frustration, its not just on the fault of Morehouse. Both schools could do a better job. And the truth is, I’d imagine that, unfortunately, the only group truly upset about this is Bennett because, well, we do have have our sisters across the street. And lucky for us, those sisters are Spelman Women, some of the smartest, brightest, most beautiful, accomplished, and impressive women on the planet. I don’t know why Spelman College isn’t our “constitutionally bound” sister school in the first place, but it matters not. Proximity breeds affection on both sides.

If I went to Bennett and was told about my brother school and somebody implied that the red-carpet was going to be rolled out and all I saw was a red fruit rollup somebody dropped on the ground when I got there, I might be pissed to. But I also might realize its homecoming and I might as well take advantage of being in Atlanta during the turnup. There are so many people out during homecoming that if you’re there to meet people, you’re going to meet people, and invariably, some of those people will be Morehouse students. I can understand feeling like, “hey, I’m here in Atlanta at Morehouse and I went to Bennett and nobody cares” but realize that unless somebody specifically states that I have to care about you, I probably won’t anyway unless we meet organically and it becomes something.

I don’t agree with Ms. Jackson (sorry), that we should end the brother/sister relationship. It can still mean something; both schools just have to be more active in that process. But the truth is, that will never trump the brother/sister relationship that exists with Spelman, anyway. It just won’t. It can’t. Sure, some bitter Morehouse dude who gets played by 2,000 too many Spelman women will tell you that he prefers a Bennett woman over a Spelman woman, but I mean, we don’t like him at Morehouse either. The fact is, Spelman is right there. But that’s only the half. Meeting those women makes it easy to understand why so many Morehouse Men are drawn into those gates (and have risked rubber bullets as we tried to scurry through the gates before midnight).

It’s not personal. I will always have love for Bennett College, the institution and the many fine women who graced her halls. But I love Spelman, for Spelman was nearly as vital to my college experience as Morehouse. If there is one true drawback to Bennett it’s that. Bennett can’t be influential in my life the way Spelman was and continues to be via the relationships I’ve built and my daughter who is already convinced that she’s going to Spelman.

To the ladies of Bennett, if you ever feel like us Morehouse Men don’t care, always remember…each one, teach one…

…and Tupac cares, even if nobody else cares.

Thank you and good night.

 

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.

  • Val

    “Bennett can’t be influential in my life the way Spelman was and
    continues to be via the relationships I’ve built and my daughter who is
    already convinced that she’s going to Spelman.”

    Somehow, after reading your post, PJ, this is all I remember. Go Spelman! And Go Spelhouse!

  • Aly

    Do current students care about this, or just people who graduated years ago?

    • AlwaysCC

      i was thinking the same thing.

      • Aly

        The woman who wrote it is 26, and a quick scan of the comments on the article show it’s alumni discussing it.

        • AlwaysCC

          yep. and her article seemed to be just – steeped in disappointment. with the men, the (lack of) recognition, the lack of people even knowing they were the “official” sister school.. it seems that the older alumni (her professor and people from orientation) sold her on some dreams without checking for the current reality

        • Val

          Within any cohort there is going to be a very vocal minority who get hyped up about pretty much everything.

          Am I concerned about this? Not really. Sometimes words need to be said in any relationship. I’d only be concerned if this gets out of hand and turns into a long-term resentment and conflict type of thing.

          • Would it be all that bad if Bennett decided to cut ties with Morehouse? I mean, what would Bennett really be losing if, according to the author, they don’t foster the bond anyway.

            • Val

              I have no idea. Obviously there is some frustration there but is that really a reason to end the relationship? Hopefully they’ll talk it out.

              • Again, I don’t understand the historical significance behind their bond so I’m speaking out of turn entirely lol but I don’t see how the women of Bennett gain anything from this union aside from hurt feelings that the men of Morehouse don’t know who they are.

                Bennett women are awesome in their own right. No bond is going to make or break them as individuals. I suppose it’d be nice to make nice with each other and for that author to extend an apology but what happens after that? I can only see both parties resenting each other even more.

                • panamajackson

                  I agree with you. it seems like a lopsided union anyway unless there is some concerted effort on the parts of both schools to make it a thing. Everybody already assumes that Morehouse + Spelman are a thing. So unless you went to Bennett, the relationship isn’t even on your radar.

                  • Real talk, like most people here, I had no idea the bond existed until all this started hitting the fan. EVERYBODY and their mother knows the bond Spelman & Morehouse shares. H e l l, my pastor and his wife are a product of both and were trying to sweet talk me into Spelman for the entirety of my Junior year of high school lol

                    That being said, this all seems like some in house issues which should’ve been hashed out offline.

                    • Val

                      Why weren’t your pastor and his wife successful in getting you to attend Spelman? If that’s not too personal a question.

                    • No problem. I wasn’t sold on the thought of attending an all female school as a young 17 year old girl. Plus, I’d visited Howard twice and was already sold on the dream they were pushing. I went down to tour all the AUC schools and Spelman just didn’t seem to be the right fit for me. I really respected the history and the legacy but I knew it wasn’t for me.

                      Also, I knew that Spelman scholarships were far and few in between for students. Atlanta is already a higher cost of living than my mid-sized hometown in NC, tuition was high, and coming from a middle class family who already didn’t have much, that wasn’t the kind of burden I wanted to place on my family.

                • Val

                  Well apparently most Morehouse men are clueless. So either start fresh and make something of it or end it. But, they should consider, both parties, that networking between HBCU grads is a real thing. So despite what may have or may not have happened in the past it would be wise for both sides to make it happen now and forget about the past.

        • miss t-lee

          As someone who has no dog in this fight, when I read it last week, even I could even tell she *still* felt some kinda way.

          • Aly

            Yeah, she definitely does.

        • panamajackson

          The comments were alumnae. The Twitter wars were current students.

          • Aly

            Ah ok.

    • panamajackson

      It was current students fighting about it online.

  • I have fam that went to Bennett (which is honestly the only reason i know of the school’s existence) but i never knew Bennett and Morehouse were brother/sister schools. Interesting. While ridiculously salty, i can somewhat feel where the author of that article is coming from. Especially if she was being sold a dream from freshman orientation that just wasn’t so. But instead of being mad at the Morehouse Men she encountered, she shoulda been mad at whom ever sold her that dream way back when. Either way, at this stage of the game, she really should be over it

    • panamajackson

      My guess is, and its completely out of the blue, she came back down to a Morehouse homecoming and felt that icy coldness all over again.

  • Glockenspiel

    Damn……I went to school in NC and had no idea of the Bennett/Morehouse connection…

  • Belleluv

    As a Bennett Belle Class of 2010, it really isn’t that deep. We know the deal… One opinion doesn’t count for all. Shout out to my Brothers at A&T! All Belles aren’t salty & some of my Sisters have amazing relationships with the men of Morehouse. I would write more but I have to keep working to pay off Sallie Mae (The REAL ENEMY).

    • panamajackson

      LOL. Sallie Mae being the real enemy made me laugh. I wouldn’t think it was deep either. But hey, I went to Morehouse. Might as well toss my hat into the ring.

      • Deb0nair D0c

        Well done. Its true they can tell us but not tell us much.

    • cakes_and_pies

      I never got the impression she as speaking for all of y’all, so I don’t get why the author through all y’all in the same boat as salty.

  • I saw soooo many Belles reposting that article and I felt second hand embarrassment for those who posted with the intent of co-signing the author. I have no dog in said fight but I can see how the women of Bennett would feel slighted that their brothers don’t know who they are for the most part and don’t really care all that much if they do.

    Such is life. They have NCA&T right down the block if they’re looking to foster meaningful male friendships though :-)

    (I can’t speak to whether or not the caliber of men over there is equal to that of a Morehouse man….but…..*shrug*)

    I didn’t know there was a Twitter war taking place over it! The “low hanging fruit” comment was a low blow that was truly uncalled for. No matter how that woman feels about being left out as a sister of Morehouse, that’s no reason to drag the women of Spelman through the mud for something they had nothing to do with. She should know better. All that being said, I hope she finds whatever she’s looking for. Maybe Bennett should cut ties with Morehouse, maybe both sides should discuss was to keep that sisterly/brotherly bond fresh, etc. Internet thugging won’t help at all though.

    • panamajackson

      I didn’t follow it on the Internets, but I was told about it and I just didn’t feel like stepping into that minefield. Especially cuz in all honesty, its just college. I have love for all my HBCUs.

      • True. As much as I rag on rival schools I wish all of them the best in all areas. I can’t imagine that Bennett is teaching their Belles to harbor so much hatred in their hearts.

        • QuirlyGirly

          It is already an uphill battle for HBCUs, despite turning out top notch talent, to be seen on a level playing field as PWIs but to insult another HBCU is terrible.

          Much love to all my HBCUs because whether we are big or small we all united and serve a purpose.

    • tgtaggie

      “(I can’t speak to whether or not the caliber of men over there is equal to that of a Morehouse man….but…..*shrug*)”- I don’t know how I feel about that comment. lol.

      Anyways, We’re 7-0 and I’m pretty sure we are going to be MEAC champs. Oh and congrats to Cam and co. being 9-0. lol.

    • QuirlyGirly

      The “low hanging fruit” comment was a low blow that was truly uncalled for.

      I read the article and when I saw that comment I was like really- she did sound bitter and jealous. All constructive commentary on the relationship between Bennett and Morehouse -or lack thereof- was wiped out by that comment. I too went to a small college that some may not know of but to tear down another all female school because an all male school didn’t recognize or appreciate the relationship between my school and theirs is warped.

      The author sounded like a jealous ex girlfriend insulting her ex’s new girlfriend.

  • Robbinesque

    See? This is when I hate social media. Why are we even discussing this? Inventing and inviting “beef” where there should be none. This is not the Michigan vs. Notre Dame rivalry! It ain’t that deep. As an (older) Belle, I find the entire conversation out-of-pocket. I’m proud of my school and EVERY HBCU -Spelman, Howard, Morehouse, A&T, Tuskegee, etc. We ain’t got the numbers to be acting scandalous toward each other.

    • panamajackson

      A lot of it is social media driven. That one article just happened to catch fire, and mostly b/c of the unnecessary shade towards Spelman. It ignited a flame. I’m with you though. Can’t blame the girl for feeling a way, but she should have been prepared for the blowback.

  • Eva_baby

    According to google maps that is a damn near 6 hour car drive or a $300 plane ride between the two schools. How the heck do you foster a sense of community with that distance?

    Rather than taking shots at the male student body and throwing shade at Spellman, the author really should have kept her remarks directed totally at the Boards of Trustees of both schools. If they aren’t maintaining that sense of brotherhood/sisterhood between the schools then it is a failure of the institutions who are piloting the plane, not the people who are sitting in coach right along with you.

    • I was thinking the same thing. Why even try to keep up that kind of relationship when both schools are so far from one another? How do they benefit from this kind of thing? Aside from one annual trip to Homecoming that apparently no one knows about.

    • Spelmanite

      There’s only one L in Spelman. :-) As an alumna I am constitutionally bound to correct this error in every occurrence.

      • Eva_baby

        Only one ‘L’? That just feels all kinds of wrong.

  • Marc.J.H.

    I’ve never heard of Bennett and I’m from Carolina….#weird. Thanks for teaching me something new today.

    • Val

      That is weird.

    • See, this is indicative of a larger issue that Bennett should be addressing. V I S I B I L I T Y.

      I think the only reason I know Bennett exists is because I know more than a few Alumnae, I live one city over, and I was dragged across the entire Southeast to every HBCU under the Mason Dixon on college tours.

      I doubt many people know that Bennett is older than Spelman too.

      • panamajackson

        I feel like most people don’t know most HBCUs though. We all know the big ones. But when I realized there were like 100+ HBCUs, I was floored.

        • Yup. I had no idea there were that many until I got to college and started building up my HBCU network through clubs, events, etc. UAPB was the biggest surprise for me personally. I didn’t know Arkansas was home to such a great school but I’m proud to say that I’m good friends with an alum.

          • Lauron Thomas

            I’m from Arkansas and didn’t appreciate UAPB until I went to an HBCU in MD, then visited the Bluff on a vaca home. I was floored.

          • 909girl601world

            I just got back from Homecoming so I’m particularly thrilled to see our small, yet mighty HBCU mentioned on this here page #RoarLionsRoar #UAPB #HBCULove Okay, I’m through.

        • miss t-lee

          We have one here in Austin, that gets overlooked for the other bigger ones here in TX.

          • QuirlyGirly

            I went to a small HBCU and it is overlooked all the time. There should not be any hate for the bigger schools. All HBCUs have an esteemed history. A quality education is what is important.

            • miss t-lee

              True, true.

      • Marc.J.H.

        Agreed. I’d like to think that I’m more in tune and aware of all of my surroundings but this one missed me. I am from South Carolina though so I feel I can be excused….a little bit.

        • Lol Yea, I ain’t know about Vorhees until I met two alum and I’m from NC. Some schools many people wouldn’t know existed unless they were from the area or knew someone who attended.

          • Marc.J.H.

            Haha! So we have a 1 up on each other.

          • Randon fact: Nikki Haley’s dad taught at Vorhees.

            • tgtaggie

              Lol. I thought Nikki is originally from Orangeburg.

            • Marc.J.H.

              Oh word? Now that’s definitely news to me. Have you been there? If her dad taught there then she should feel even more compelled to keep the hbcu’s of this state on a high priority list for more funding.

              • tgtaggie

                I doubt it. Nikki is all about embracing the “whiteness”

                • Marc.J.H.

                  I can wish

              • I’m from Allendale so Vorhees was right around the corner. Nikki doesn’t care about HBCUs.

            • SororSalsa

              I read an article about Storer College a few weeks ago, which was in West Virginia and closed in 1955. Their alumni numbers are getting small and the graduates want to make sure that people remember it. I had no idea it existed until then.

      • heyheyno

        Exactly I only knew about it because I made it a point to know about all the HBCUs in my state (NC). They need to do a lot more to become visible.

  • NomadaNare
    • Val

      Well it’s an all-women’s college so it’s probably not on the radar of most men outside of those who go to school in the Greensboro area.

      • NomadaNare

        Apparently it should be #themorethemerrier #yassssssssseducatedblackwomen

      • Oluseyi

        I spent a year and change at UNC Greensboro and never heard of Bennet College.

        • Val

          Interesting. Well UNC Greensboro is a PWI so maybe that explains it. Otherwise it seems odd to me that any str8 Black guy who has spent any real time in Greensboro doesn’t know about Bennett.

          • Oluseyi

            I don’t know that my time in Greensboro count as “real,” though: it was my first time south of Virginia, coming from New York, and without a strong support network—or a car. The isolation eventually broke me and I fled back north, after a six-month restorative in Lagos. So yeah, I’d put an asterisk on my own assertion.

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