Buy Black, Education Too

Buy Black, Education Too -- @chattyantisoc

We understand that our ancestors overstood the value of education. There is no greater illustration than reading stories of them risking their lives to learn and teach reading and writing. We understand that education dictates poverty and poverty dictates crime. Therefore, it ain’t hard to tell why schools in our neighborhoods are intentionally defunded. From secret schools to Brown V. Board of Education to the Little Rock 9, school choice for us has generally represented anything but…

Prior to higher education being desegregated nearly all Black college students enrolled at HBCUs, obviously this is where they had any chance of being admitted AND would undoubtedly be more comfortable. Because honestly, Ruby Bridges most probably would have rathered received a quality education at the school by the house. As a product of the Deseg [desegregation] program in St. Louis, I would have.

The Higher Education Act of 1965 defines an HBCU as: “any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of Black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary of Education [Betsy DeVos] to be a reliable authority as to the quality of training offered or is, according to such an agency or association, making reasonable progress toward accreditation.”

Quick bullets in case you are somehow doubting the importance of HBCUs

  • While only making up 3% of colleges and universities, HBCUs are responsible for 27% of Black folks with bachelor's degrees in STEM

  • In 2011, HBCUs conferred 25% of all bachelor's degrees in education awarded to Black folks

  • HBCUs confer nearly 35% of all bachelor’s degrees earned by Black graduates in astronomy, biology, chemistry, math, and physics

  • Xavier University, [MY ALMA MATER] awards more undergraduate degrees in the biological and physical sciences to Black folks that ANY OTHER university in the nation

  • 8 of the TOP 10 institutions producing Black undergraduates who went on to earn doctorates in  science and engineering were HBCUs

*not including homecoming, lifelong friendships, mentors + mentorees, other immeasurable lessons

We are already underrepresented; imagine our representation in STEM if HBCU grads were not in the equation! It is clearly not the lack of results that are responsible for the consistent lack of funding for HBCUs compared to other state institutions. South Carolina, Mississippi, and Maryland are among states who have sued their governments for inequitable funding of HBCUs.

As PWI’s began to integrate to fulfill Black student requirements, more Black students began attending these institutions. These students tended to be those with greater means, access, and preparedness for higher education. Less prepared students seeking higher education were accepted into HBCUs which is indeed a positive thing that comes with some challenges:

It is systematic racism that allows legislators who are well aware of the importance of the history, rich tradition, and success of HBCUs and simultaneously question ‘why do WE need HBCUs anyway’? And we know white folks question with their dollars!

So what’s with us? Do we really believe in us? The same racism that persists and persuades folks to place the education of PWIs superior to that of HBCUs permeates Black folks too. Do we believe that a bachelor’s of Science from Xavier of Louisiana holds as much weight as the same degree from Harvard?

If we allow the government’s continued divestment, where will our institutions be? If we continue our divestment, where will our institutions be? These institutions designed specifically to educate us, where ancestors wrapped their books in paper to avoid discovery. Do we want HBCUs represented by more David Duke appearances and DeVos commencements, while being converted into whitewashed versions of themselves to compete for funding? We need HBCUs and if they are to remain, we gone have to put our money where our mouth is. We have to take care of us, as we always have.

Send your kids to an HBCU. Bang.