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Damage Continues

jayah's picture

In a casual conversation at lunch, a friend of mine, who is also African American, and I were talking about where were planning to study abroad. She was planning on taking a program where she studied at Spelman College for one semester. I told her that I was considering going there, but I decided to come to Bryn Mawr College instead. She made a face, which looked to be disgusted. I asked why she made that face, and she responded by saying, “I do not mind studying there for a semester, but to actually attend that school! You have to dress up everyday and I like here where I can wear whatever I want.” I immediately began thinking of another conversation I saw two of my friends having on Twitter. One went to an HBCU and another went to a different, very liberal school. The girl who went to the liberal school stated, “HBCU’s are party schools. When jobs see applications, they are not going to take you serious for attending an HBCU. It is a joke.”  The girl who went to the HBCU responded by saying, “all schools party, but they seem to publicize it more at HBCU’s. I love my school, and if you do not attend it, your opinion does not matter.” 

            These two events on black people’s thoughts on HBCU’s made me think of the reading we did in class, Suspending Damage: A Letter to Communities by Eve Tuck. It seems that the way the media portrays blacks makes them see themselves as damaged. Instead of viewing an HBCU as desirable, many black students see them as damaged.  This perception is shaped by the media and also history, which many negative views are often shaped through.

            The only reason that I, personally, did not attend an HBCU is because I went a to a predominately black elementary, middle, and high school. I wanted a new experience. I know that the world, especially in politics, which I plan to study, is not filled with people of color. Therefore, I need to be able to work with different people of different races and personalities. Spelman would have different personalities, but not the race aspect, which I needed exposure to. It surprised me that my peers thought of HBCU’s as a “fashion show” and did not take them serious “in the professional world.” Is it true? I would hate to think so, but personally, I do not know.

             This whole event further pushed me to think about why schools that were ranked the highest, the “whitest,” and the schools ranked lower had more black people. There needs to be change. How that change can begin to occur is the hard question to answer though!