Growing up in a two parent home in the Southeastern region of the United States, my parents were a significant influence in my understanding of the importance of education. Both of my parents attended Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). My mother and father, received Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from HBCUs. Neither of my parents attended a predominantly White institution (PWIs). I often wondered if they pursued their post-secondary education at a PWI, would I have grown up in a predominantly White neighborhood. Would my quality of life been significantly different if my parents were graduates of PWIs? Especially during a time when degrees were more valuable than they are today.
Currently, I am pursuing a Doctorate of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration at an HBCU. At times I find myself regretting pursuing a Doctorate degree at an HBCU. At other times, I feel that the education is just as valuable as if I were attending a PWI. At a time when dismantling HBCUs is in the headlines of the news, I’m finishing a PhD at one. Is this degree even going to be worth the hard work and dedication that I have put into my quest for greatness? Or will I end up with a name tag working at Wal-Mart that says “Dr. ——-? Oh how embarrassing that will be. Ironically, the education I have been pursuing has educated me about how these very same institutions that we grew up idealizing were major players in the perpetuation of Black inferiority. Yes, Princeton, Harvard, and the majority of the Ivy Leagues were institutions of higher education that perpetuated Black inferiority.
Regardless of the information that I have received pertaining to these institutions about how students dug up African cadavers at an Ivy League school in the northeast to dissect. Regardless of the fact that my doctoral education has informed me that African human tissue was the currency of the establishment of medical science at these institutions of higher education that we are taught to idealize, I still feel that if I had children I would prefer for them to attend a predominantly White institution. Don’t get me wrong, I love HBCUs and I know that they have produced an enormous amount of leaders in America, I still feel my children would have a better opportunity of the American Dream if they attained at least one degree from a predominantly White institution. Isn’t this just the perfect example to illustrate the strength of the White power structure in America? I wonder how employers really look at the applications of HBCU graduates. In fact, I was told recently by a friend that her manager looked down upon the very institution that I am attending. I have friends that graduated from HBCUs that frown upon their very own HBCU. Are our institutions becoming obsolete?
I argue that they are not, in fact I argue that HBCUs are literally lifesavers for members of the African-American community whose grades may not have been considered stellar in their secondary school days. This article was written to discover ideas and theories regarding the PWI vs. HBCU debate. Are our institutions still relevant?