HBCU: The Marvel and the Myth

By Kerwin Holmes, Jr.

Group-think hurts once you have to separate and become an individual again.


So…I’m going to make this point quickly because it matches up with a bit of what has been going on lately.

You have already seen my post earlier about why I refuse to call and promote the refusal for calling HBCU’s by the moniker of “black schools.”  If not, this is quick for that purpose of you getting your fill, so after you finish just click that hyperlink and read that other quick post…if you want to.

Lately, a lot of my friends have been complaining after going off to a so-called “predominately ‘white’ institution” also known as a PWI (which is code for any college/university that isn’t an HBCU and especially the prominent ones) that they no longer feel “at home” or “belonging” but instead feel “alienated” and “exotic.”  Well…this is a good thing.  Being around people who you consider to be similar to you isn’t always healthy, and at the uni-versity where unity meets diversity in various ways (but primarily in thought and argumentative reason) going to study with persons from different cultural and social backgrounds than you even as far as physical appearance goes is jovial.  Or, at least it should be jovial.  After all, for many of us, the HBCU experience’s whole goal was to do just that, to set us up to be instruments to add onto that diversity chain in whatever manner and way that we are able to.

So then…what happened?

Well, I noticed a trend.  It turned out that most people who complain about the transition I also realized were the persons who relied more heavily upon the affirmation of others while at the HBCU.  In other words, group affirmation carried a little bit too much weight for them as they charted out their ethnic identities (which isn’t necessarily something that you have to do or should do at any college/university).

And, now that they have left that nurse mother for another, it seems that they have a problem with the breast milk being a bit too different in flavor.

There is a time and purpose under heaven for everything.  There is a time to be weaned, and a time to cease from being weaned.  Pretty much now is the time to cease from being weaned.

Yes, the HBCU offers some unique experiences just like living in Finland is Finland living, but living in Texas is Texas living.  That doesn’t make it mystical…but it does make it special.  At the end of the day though, if you’re born one place then your birth is still a birth, and if you die in one place it is still a death…so how do you think that it will be when you actually live in a place?  It will be a unique experience and it will influence your character.  It may even change the trajectory of your life in such a manner that you won’t look at yourself the same or ever be looked upon the same way.  But that’s just the thing.  It will influence you.

You are still you.  And you will always be you, no matter where you live.

Don’t get me wrong, affirmation helps a ton in the long run for social and communal cohesion, and it certainly is a whole lot better than just abject rejection.  But let’s be real, our identities can ultimately never lie in other people, no matter how badly we want them to approve and how close they are to our hearts.  Even those who may look more like us than others can cut us just as deeply when we upset them…some of them even more so because of how close that they are.  Just see how people treated Jennifer Holiday for daring to sing at yet another president’s inauguration…whether you like him or not.

Come on, people.  We need to actually be people.  And we can never be people if we can never learn to actually be persons.

[Updated March 3, 2017 where I typed “Michelle Holiday” instead of Jennifer Holiday.  It was a long day after studies, guys, and I still put 3 posts up.]


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