Dec 17, 2006

The Historically Black College or University - What Is Our Role In the 21st Century?

Greetings HBCU-GOP,

Have you ever thought about the role of the HBCU in modern times? If we know our history, then we know that these institutions were founded because of and in spite of the bigotry and systematic discrimination that Black Americans suffered during post-slavery Reconstruction and Jim Crow. We needed institutions of higher learning that catered to our needs, and the HBCU was born. However, now that times are different, does the HBCU still continue to play a significant role in our society?

I ask this question because as conservative thinkers, the idea of an all Black learning environment may at times seem contradictory to our sociopolitical beliefs. Furthermore, as are most college campuses, HBCU campuses are havens of liberal thought, even more so because of our collective loyalty to the Democratic party. Most politically concientious students at HBCUs are Democrats with tendencies toward Black nationalism.

As conservatives, that is not who we are at all. I am proud to be Black, but Black is not what defines me. My race is only a portion of who I am, and although God created me as a Black woman for a purpose, that purpose was not to create a superficial basis for my identity.

We could say that we still attend HBCUs for the history, but if the truth is told, that history is mostly social, (the African American studies departments are tiny, and so one sided that they aren't relevant) and even that is dying out. I'm greek, and in case you didn't know it, the greek scene at most HBCUs these days is cat to say the least (using a little bit of vernacular), and the sophistication that once shrouded the serious, focused student bodies has been replaced by a gutter idea of being crunk at all costs. The marching bands are still hot, but that's far less than enough to justify the need or relevance of today's HBCU.

So, for a conservative thinker, what purpose does the HBCU serve? You guys are fortunate enough to have figured out which way was "right" while you were still in school...

So, post your thoughts. There is no right or wrong answer - its a purely philosophical kind of vibe...

I.C. Jackson
"Need some more? Visit the Black Conservatives Blogspot on MySpace!"


brotherbrown said...

What is the role of white colleges in the 21st century? To produce the professional class for the nation.

Ditto Black Colleges. Once you have your degree and are in the workforce, where you went to school is less relevant than whether you can do the job.

The advantages of black colleges for black students:

1. Relationships with Professors. The whole time I was in high school, I never had a black instructor, never was a "favorite student," even on those occasions when I was a top student. It happened several times in college.

2. Control. If a black person causes you a problem, it is a black person that usually helps you solve it. It is a good thing to see black people in charge, as problem-solvers. Many black people don't think there is such a thing.

3. Student Government Association. The student side of governance is staffed by black people. It is a good thing to know, by personal experience, that young blacks can work together to achieve goals.

4. Job Placement. I can't speak for every black college, but the Placement Center at FAMU always had a full calendar. Companies and agencies looking for black students don't go to Florida State or Louisiana State, they go to FAMU and Southern.

5. Nation Building. Most of my friends met their wives while in college. The college years are the last time you will ever be around so many marriageable people in your life. On a campus of 6,000 black people, your chances go way up.

The bands, the greeks, come on, you really can't make any less relevant points than those.

Nathaniel Peete said...

I would have to ditto brotherbrown. I went to Alabama A&M and as a freshman it changed my outlook on being black. I loved it, I loved the homecoming, the history, and the different culture. Coming from Nashville, I wasn't accustomed to seeing so many blacks from all over the world. My roomate was from Bermuda, my friends from the East Coast, West Coast, Trinindad, South Africa, and the list goes on and on. All of these this exposure gives students a since of amazing pride for the race. Professors that looked like me (also many other ethnicities) were easily and readily to serve as mentors and could relate to me and just seeing intelligent black people/professionals had a profound impact on me as well.

Nathaniel Peete Jr.

Donnell said...

Its obviously a deep question. How do you retain the culture in a "diverse" society. How important is race? Well, its pretty important if history is a judge.

These questions would be a lot easier to answer if we were still in the days when minority was synonymous with black.

The relationship between black and white is the crucible this nation was founded on but that narrative will need to be revised.

As for the part HBCUs play traditionally... Its about choice. White people don't have to think twice about the opportunity to attend college with a majority white population. HBCUs give Blacks the same opportunity to learn among those with a similar culture.

So get ready for LHCUs. Latino and Hispanic Colleges and Universities.

Leslie N. Crews said...

It seems as though, from a few of the blogs posted that conservative legitimacy is challenged at HBCUs because of the predominance of the liberal mentality among faculty, staff, students, and stakeholders. Rest assured this problem is witnessed at predominately white schools as well; I am a student at Virginia Tech, and have bore witness to this liberal effect at my school. It seems to be perpetuated even further by the small community of blacks at my school, who tend to follow the adage 'birds of a feather...'

...and evidently, this feather is coated with the same belief that the essence of blackness entails an expected allegiance to the Democratic Party.

Virginia Tech is the largest state university in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and I am proud to be the Chairman of the College Republicans at this school. I treasure this title and my responsibilities thereof--not as a black student, but first and foremost as a concerned Republican. Yes, I am black, but this is not the primary focus (or at least I would not like for it to be). My being a Black Republican should not be a red flag during political conversations with my fellow colleagues, and should not most certainly be a horrid label written upon my forehead whenever I present myself in any political environment whatsoever. All too often, at my school, this becomes a key issue--not just for me, but for other conservative black & minority students as well. This should not be the case, and I take it this seems to be the problem with HBCUs as well.

Truth be known, the socioeconomic problems that are holding back (the bulk) of the black community from realizing their potential, are the very problems conservative values address, but the Republican Mask seems to block any consideration of them. This saddens me and surely, you as well, the future policy creators, implementors, and interpretors of America.

This brings me to my question: how do you feel we as members of the black conservative community--you as an experienced member of the HBCU institution, and me as a member of the alternate end of the higher education continuum?

Pall Stanley said...

What does it mean today to be black or African American? We are not all alike thank God nor do we think alike or come from the same exact roots or background necessarily. And no we were not all kings and queens. There were few of them and plenty of followers within the trible system.

Back to the original question imposed from the beginning, what is the role of HBCU's today? Back in the day, there were no other alternatives for blacks to acquire higher education, therefore they had to attend HBCU's.

Our ancestors wanted to be seen as equals and desired to attend the same colleges the whites in that society attended. Today, for the most part, we have the opportunity to attend thousands of colleges within the USA.

In todays global economy, how are HBCU's preparing students to compete? Compete not based upon the typical proven past college credentials that lead to the college degree(s), but rather the facilitative skills to deal with a variety of people and other cultures of the world. Even predominately white colleges struggle in this area.

I never attended a HBCU, but I do think black institutions can serve a significant role in educating our people to compete in this global economy. How? Every single student must learn how to build or gain access to a global network of resources and people. Learning not just about our own culture, but others. And how to reach the highest level of "Interdependence"

Later in this comment, I will discuss another major problem that must be solved in the minds of our people as a whole. And that is a matter of ego's. We must have the ability to pool our resources together forming partnerships leading to larger institutions giving us the ability to control or play a significant decision making roles in the marketplace. More on that later.

Of course there are fraternal orginizations that exist allowing people to network, but even organizations alone have limitations. That means going outside of ones common lines. Even a software guru like Microsoft learned a long time ago that it could not be a leader in the industry without reaching out to other existing companies and or inventors to create better software and it does. Even the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) realized they could not rely on there own people to create innovative technology to serve there needs alone, so they formed partnerships with existing corporations and individual contractors.

HBCU's can use our past historical accomplishes to inspire our people to greatness, but we must understand more about the market place and the people in the world. Learning about other cultures, languages, and more can be a tremendous benefit longterm.

Take companies like BadBoy, P.diddy, Shawn Puffy Combs, they find the talent, manage, and produce artist and more. This company can generate millions in revenues, but the existing infrastructures P.diddy relies upon to generate his money, they earn billions from his and other related companies in the industry. What am I talking about? The companies that own the infrastructure of the industry.

The same applies to the movie industry, we can direct films all day, but we still do not own the infratructure of a company like Universal studios. Better yet, why couldnt we create our own Universal Studios and take more control over our ability to gain more control. We can be part owners of sports teams, and even coach the teams, but how many whole black owners of football teams exist and baseball? I am not talking about fronts.

We as a people can spend billions of dollars in the markeplace in the USA every single year, so we have the money, but perhaps what HBCU's can also do is help us to work together! Thats right, we need to perhaps learn how to work together as a team. Thats right, I said it because it needs to be said, we need to learn to sublimate our egos as a people and work together to build enterprises that can build infrastructures like a Universal Studios, and many other organizations.

Ego's keeps us always depending on other people's infrastructures alone. As much of the money we put into the market place and yet we do not have the ability to control it or at least be the influential decision makers or players of the market place, I can only conclude we are missing a critical part of what HBCU's should be about.

Check this out, a man from Baltimore by the name of Reginal F. Lewis, a man and his company became at the time, the largest black owned company called Beatrice Foods International which at the time was grossing over 2 Billion dollars. Where am I going?

This man exceeded the owner of Johnson Publication's 100 million at that time which hurt Mr. Johnson's aparent ego. For a longtime, the owner of Johnson Publications was the number one or largest black business owner.

Stay with me, Mr. Johnson's ego could not allow himself to publish anything about Reginald F. Lewis in Jet or any of his publications about his company and accomplishments as a business man and lawyer, why? This is an example of what we need to stop as black people. The ego destroy's our progress.

And please, do not say I am attacking the late Mr. Johnson, I am not, but tell me why a black publication that publishes thousands of articles about black people of both significance in terms of public awareness as well as those that are unknown in the publics eye? Please answer this question. Reginal F. Lewis, search for information about him on the net, he was an awesome black business man, if he were still alive, he would have accomplished greater business deals than Beatrice Foods!

Reginald F. Lewis made attempts to break the ice between them but Johnson could not. This type of scenerio needs to end if we are to progress as a race. The Willy Lynch writtings proves to be true once again unfortunately. Shamefully, I do not think its going to change anytime soon. And we as a race of people will be thinking as individuals rather than unified in the marketplace.

As a result, many of our people will survive the upcoming global market place overall. There will always be a few that thrive as individuals. How will HBCU's address this issue? How will they convince our people to work together instead of one individual trying to winning it all for themselves? Should this concern to left in the hands of HBCU's only? --- Pall Stanley

HBCUkidz said...

As a parent of 2 future HBCU students (one is 3 and the other is 4), I truly grow concerned about the future of our HBCUs. Why? Because each day, I meet more and more people who would like to see the HBCU closed by year 2028 (approximately the year when my kids would be graduating). I started a little boutique (for-profit corporation) that promotes the concept of parents starting early preparing kids for an HBCU education thinking it would be a fun little venture. However, it has really been an eye-opener to hear the number and consistent negative thoughts and opinions on the HBCU's relevance or lack of relevance in the future. I am not sure if we alumn are even aware of how much disdain is out there. I think it is important because many of these folks go to the polls and vote for funding to be cut or redistributed away FROM the HBCUs and TOWARDS other educational institutions. If alumn sit by idle...there will be a price to pay in the future.

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