Person: …oh so where did you go to college?
Me: (already feeling the judgement as I gather the right words to explain why I chose the school I graduated from) I went to a small school in North Carolina Johnson C. Smith University.
Person:…..(looking confused and passing judgement at the same time) oh ok.
Let me first say, for a while I didn’t always tell people where I went to school because I was tired of being looked down on and judged for going to an HBCU. It was almost like I always had to prove that I got a “real education” and a “real degree” every time someone asked where I went to college. It didn’t matter if the person who was asking me was black or white or any other color because if they didn’t go to one themselves they instantly judged those who did go to an HBCU.
Then, after a while I just said F it. I don’t care. YES I DID GO TO A HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGE and YES I DID GRADUATE ON TIME WITH HONORS. MY DEGREE IS REAL. MY EDUCATION IS REAL. I would always get a crazy look or “why did you go to a black school?” or “that’s not a real school” or “never heard of it”. I’m going to be honest. If you are going to judge me for going to an HBCU then don’t bother to even try to talk to me about anything else. Period. My patience is at zero for a lot of things nowadays and that’s high on my list.
I always say that there are a lot of dummies with degrees and a lot of geniuses without degrees. But people show their true colors when they judge you on whether you went to a PWI or an HBCU. To this point I say it’s good for kids who look like me to have at least one HBCU experience. Whether if it is just taking a class or two here and there or going there full time or even visiting or volunteering. HBCUs have produced some of, if not the majority of, the most successful black people of all time.
There is so much history at each and every one of these types of colleges and universities. These schools were built because no one wanted black people to be educated and learn our true history. They shut us out so we built our own. They were mad when we tried to learn beside them and then they got mad when we took matters in our own hands. The crazy thing is…they’re still mad because they tried to burry us but we kept growing. Not to shun PWIs because they as well have produced the Baracks and Michelles but there is something special about schools like my alma mater. Big and small. HBCUs matter. Period.