Or The Case Against Integration
If you HBCU is dead, dying or in disarray it’s probably because you didn’t go there. You probably didn’t even realize it was yours. It was just that one school in the bad neighborhood where you were all, “My God! Who put Spellman in the middle of the ghetto?” because you’re not from Atlanta. You’re from Chicago or St. Louis or New York or Los Angeles where they don’t have HBCUs and colleges are in “nice” places. Your expectations are framed by the not-so-magical, integrated world of suburbia where if you were fortunate to actually get a decent education you dreamed of “A Different World” and most certainly got it if you actually pursued that dream at a black school.
But most of us didn’t go chasing after Dwayne and Whitley. Not us, the children of integration. And a lot of didn’t see those schools as ours, even if they’d been created for us, and went on to create mini-versions of it with other black students through self-segregation on the “white” college campus, ususally by joining black sororities and fraternities and trying to live amongst other black students. Because, in the end, even though we grew up integrated, we still didn’t always feel welcome.
Which was the crux of a discussion two older black men had with me years ago for a newspaper story. Both were ministers and both were members of the NAACP. They’d belonged to the local chapter in Bakersfield, Calif. for years, and they’d joined the larger organization when they were still young men trying to grasp the fight for Civil Rights of the 1950s and 60s. They both confirmed something that had been nagging in my heart nearly all of my life.
Integration wasn’t what it was cracked up to be.
More after the jump.