Voices

Shout out to ‘Black-ish’ for this week’s HBCU episode

The show reminded me just how special it was to attend a Historically Black College or University.

JCSU students out on the yard. (Qcitymetro file photo)

One of the best decisions my parents ever made was to send me to an HBCU (Historical Black College or University). I can’t say I wanted to go at first, because I didn’t.

My reluctance didn’t stem from some guidance counselor telling me I could do better, nor from my African American peers turning up their noses at my choice. Most of my parents’ friends attended HBCUs, so I was always surrounding by alums from North Carolina A&T, Hampton, FAMU, Bennett and Benedict.

No, I wanted to attend the schools my high school friends were attending. But that wasn’t what I really needed, and my parents knew that.

This week on the ABC television show “Black-ish,” Junior was visiting colleges, and one of the schools was Howard University, his dad’s alma mater. Although the trip appeared to be going poorly, Junior really liked what he saw. He loved the vastness of the African American Diaspora at Howard — the beautiful, black people living their lives without outside wonderment.

A nurturing environment

When I watched Junior explain why he wanted to attend Howard, it made me swell up with pride.

It wasn’t easy at first, but I slowly fell in love with the HBCU experience.

My parents wanted me to be in a nurturing environment that would help me grow into a strong African American man. And looking back, there was only one place where I could get that.

I’m sure other schools have great academics and nice amenities But an HBCU taught me ingenuity and hustle. It also taught me about my culture and heritage.

Many African Americans attend Predominately White Institutions (PWIs), and they end up creating environments similar to what I had at an HBCU — Black Student Unions, black campus kings and queens and other safe spaces to discuss issues pertaining to African Americans. I had all of that for free, and I didn’t need to pull a sit-in at the president’s office to get it.

My only issue with the show was with Junior’s father, Dre. He made it seem as though he had a hard time relating to white folks after he left school.

Camaraderie and love

I know comedies are exaggerated, but I found this part to be too silly. So, on Facebook that same night, I wrote, “After I left my HBCU Experience everything else became wack!” I was really trying to be facetious, but dammit, I was right.

It wasn’t because everyone else I encountered was mean, or that white folks didn’t understand what my education experience was like. I simply missed the camaraderie.

That was something I found hard to replace, no matter how hard I tried. And I get that feeling only when I encounter other HBCU grads.

Sometimes it’s hard to explain my HBCU experience. I try so hard, but it never quite comes out right.

Watching “Black-ish” was therapeutic; it explained everything I have ever felt about my college experience. And during our current challenging times, we all need something to remind us what love is.

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