Attending Howard University was a choice of destiny and that alone, personally speaking. The HBCU in general and Howard University specifically celebrates blackness and all that being Black entails. Understanding that no institution is perfect (be it a school, a church, a governmental agency etc.), though this does not excuse the actions considered “bad” or negligent, this still should be the premise of all arguments asserted. HBCUs allow for curated conversations about race and what it means to be black in a country perceived to be built white. The primary reason (some would argue otherwise) many desire to attend a historically black college or university is due to the perceived safety and exploration of cultural understanding promised by said institutions.
Ric Keller, a former U.S. Representative said; “Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs, have played an important role in enriching the lives of not just African Americans, but our entire country.” The HBCU, in my opinion, provides an outlet for Black America, it is a pod of purposeful discourse and if such was taken away it would stunt progression. Also, besides being a cultural outlet the HBCU compared to a PWI is more economically sound and affordable for those within the African American community that are disadvantaged…or at least this is the ludicrosity that many are offered and buy, including me. I don’t necessarily write in a state of regret, but with a hope for reform.
The truth is that the ability or opportunity to receive or rather purchase the tool of education is a deficit in many communities (overwhelmingly in the Black community). For years it has been indirectly projected that the opportunity to go to college is a gift, almost a privilege. However, it is now becoming a necessity; with, as it has been said many times over, the college degree is becoming the new high school diploma: the new minimum requirement, albeit an expensive one (emphasis added), for getting even the lowest-level job. This expensive tool called education is something we (especially the Black community) cannot afford to not have and something many can’t afford to have.
In an analysis compiled by the Center for American Progress, 78 percent of African American students entering college during the 2003-04 cohort financed their education with some form of federal loan, but made virtually no progress in paying down the loan in the years following graduation or leaving the school. With interest, the median average of debt owed by black students is 113 percent of the original borrowed amount, compared to 65 percent from white and 83 percent of Hispanic borrowers over the same period.
This, my friend, is a new, covert form of slavery; enslaved by Sallie Mae and owing uncle Sam! Though this slavery doesn’t care about the color of your skin (per se) it does interrogate the contents of your pockets.
How could something promoted and marketed as “affordable” be the very opposite? I simply guess this is the cost of cultural education. It must be the curated cultural conversations, only authentically afforded at HBCUs that we (African Americans) feverishly pay for. I often wonder, are we, by default saying, by taking out loans to purchase an education, perceived to be prestigious, enslaving, I mean, indebting us to a government (or the system) that we say has always been against us; “you can put me in chains again, just let me sign this MPN first”?
HBCU finance needs reform. It needs review and it needs drastic revival. Will the millennial policy movers and shakers arise? (To be continued…)