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HomeHBCU LifeThe Only School You Should Be Giving Money To Is An HBCU

The Only School You Should Be Giving Money To Is An HBCU

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Black History Month is a time to refocus on and recommit to Black institutions. A people can only advance if they have strong institutions to support their community and that includes vibrant educational institutions. A great number of Black people attended and graduated from predominantly white institutions (PWIs). Even so, Black people owe those institutions nothing and if they wish to write a check, it ought to be a Black college.

PWIs owe a great debt to Black people in America. Slavery, of course, played a large role in building and sustaining them. However, few think about the tax dollars Black families have and continue to pay to support them. Well before Black people were allowed to enroll at the University of Mississippi, they were taxed to support it. James Meredith — one person — integrated the school in 1963 but Blacks were only allowed in small numbers for years after. Before 1963 some schools up north admitted Blacks but only a token few, especially if they could play a sport. All of those schools denied opportunities to our great-great-great-great-great-grandparents and yes, even to many of our parents: but they gladly accepted their tax dollars. A few minority scholarships, targeted at a select number of Black individuals today, doesn’t begin to even the score for the generations of taxpayers who were excluded.

Some Black grads say they would like to give back to their PWI, specifically so other Black students will have the same opportunity they had. This is a logic that Black people must reject. It is not incumbent upon those who descend from generations of the excluded to create opportunities for their seed at PWIs. Rather, it is the responsibility of the institutions that have done the excluding to figure out how to be inclusive. Indeed, Black people have been and still are taxed for them and that is sufficient. If the universities actually value the presence of Black students on their campuses, it is incumbent upon them to create the opportunities. It is the responsibility of Black taxpayers to push their states and state schools to prioritize the welfare of Black students and ensure resources are allocated for them. That push must take state institutions beyond the safe pursuit of “diversity” to a clear mandate addressing the opportunities denied my parents and their parents.

A great number of schools integrated only at gunpoint — literally. PWIs have made great strides since that time but the atmosphere on many campuses still leaves much to be desired. The recent incident at Michigan State University illustrates that point well, along with many other examples from various campuses. Still, Black people are paying taxes. In some cases, those taxes support public universities that have endowments in the billions. The billions those universities have are far too often managed by investment teams or outside firms with little to no Black presence. The universities crave Black dollars and invest them in various places outside of the Black community, with little input from Black organizations.

Imagine a man who is unemployed, broke and has few prospects. Imagine that he has an amazing woman who sticks with and helps him to realize his potential. Let’s also imagine that after he gets on his feet and starts making money, he is desired by many other women. If that man left his woman for another that only now desires him, what would you say? If his woman began to fall on hard times herself but he chose to ignore her and chase the others who never wanted him before, what would you think of that man? This is precisely the relationship of Black people HBCUs today. When no one wanted us, they embraced us. When we had no other options, they sheltered us and made us great. Even now they outperform PWIs in vaulting the lowest income students into the top quintile as adults. They are still our best investment as a people and yet too many of us are eager to date the woman who wouldn’t even let us walk across her lawn, a few years ago.

Many Black people benefited in some way from PWIs and that’s perfectly fine but we owe those PWIs nothing: they in fact still owe us. Any assistance they provide to Black students is not charity for which Black people are indebted; it represents a meager return on the labor and tax dollars our parents to great-great-great-great-great grandparents contributed to build those schools, while being denied access to them. This Black History Month we should rededicate ourselves solely to Black institutions, so that we can secure a Black future.

About Post Author

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D'Juan Hopewell
D'Juan Hopewell
I care about Black Power. Period. Currently working on creating jobs and funding new startups on the South Side of Chicago and writing here and there at HopewellThought.com. Follow me @HopewellThought.
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