*There actually were quite a few similarities of the good things from "A Different World" at real HBCU's*
For those of you who have never been to a HBCU I’d like to take you on a campus visit. I’m going to let you in on a few secrets of what makes an education from a HBCU so great and precious. Maybe this will help you to understand why graduates (and almost graduates) from HBCUs go just about crazy when they see another alum. Maybe you’ll stop hating (for all those hates) on something you know absolutely nothing about and have never experienced. This post doesn’t come out of a place of darkness, this isn’t a post for the haters. This post comes from the oh so many times I credit my HBCU experience for getting me through a tough situation, or for giving me the strength wisdom and guidance to preserver. I love my dang school and as I type I’m trying so hard not to throw up our sign or shout from the top of my lungs our various chants. I wont start humming the song for the band. I wont start doing the chants from the cheerleaders. I wont even mention my school colors…nope, not gonna do it, because my love and education from my school goes soooo much deeper than games, colors, and parties.
My HBCU taught me that nothing, absolutely NOTHING is handed to you. If you want something, you have to get up off your lazy, momma will take care of it, spoiled ass and fend for yourself. If you want financial aid, you have to fill out the forms CORRECTLY, then wait in a line, a long line to turn them in. Put on some comfy shoes and bring a book (prepared me for the line to vote, going to the DMV, and getting into a club. I’m so used to it from undergrad that I don’t bother to complain, I already know complaining don’t solve shit).
I’ve learned that I AM MY OWN RESPONSIBILITY. That leaving paperwork and such up to the people in the offices is an easy way to get your stuff lost. The people who process paperwork are there to do one thing, process. They don’t care that you didn’t know which form to fill out, they don’t care that you didn’t know when the deadline was, they don’t care about you. They don’t get paid to care about you and your education. That is your job. This has made me a highly organized person who duplicates all of her important documents and is not too good to walk her paperwork form department to department just to make sure it gets to the right people.
Dealing with paperwork and financial aid has taught me important social skills. I’ve had to learn how to talk to people, from admin to professors. If you want something done quickly, you’ve got to know how to talk to people. Someone is more likely to go the extra mile for you if you genuinely say please and thank you with a smile, than if you have an attitude and think someone owes you something. If you look like you’ve put some effort into what you are doing, its amazing how open people are to helping you. Baked goods and chocolate go far too ;)
Going to a HBCU was such a departure from going to my all white high school. For once I wasn’t the only one in class. For once it wasn’t assumed that I was not as smart just because I was black. There was no place for those kinds of thoughts, imagined or real. We were all black and we were all there for the same thing. I felt so comfortable knowing that I was being looked at for what I said as a person, not as the black girl. We were free to talk about “white folks” and the janky shit they do without offending anyone because it was just us. Everything was culturally sensitive. I began to feel good for being smart, I spoke up more in class, I even sat in front of the class. By junior year I was co teaching with my professors. I loved school, and I never thought that would happen.
We were humble at my HBCU, I mean we didn’t have much, nothing was a luxury so we all really bonded over chicken Wednesdays and fish Fridays. If someone was going to the store, because only maybe 2 people on the hall had a car, people would get something for you. People would share what they had. Folks reached out to you. For those of us with no car, we made up stuff to do together, on campus, we worked with what we had and had a good time! Campus parties were the bomb! We didn’t have to leave just to have a good time. Sneaking up into the boys dorm wasn’t always about having sex. We actually went up in there, as a group, to hang, to really hang and chill as friends with no cars do. My HBCU taught me how to value what I had and make something great out of very little. And I was never afraid of the guys on campus. Most of them were really cool and looked out for us. If they saw us outside of campus at a club, they’d make sure we were ok, that we had a ride home. Because they knew we were fellow Eagles (oops how’d that get in there?).
My HBCU showed me what it looks like when a black community works together. And that’s something no one ever wants people to see. Through the good times and the bad, my HBCU was my black community that I could count on. And it wasn’t just blacks that went there. Every kind of person went there, although we were the majority. And of course were weren’t racist or discriminatory. We didn’t look at other folks like they were “other” they were Crystal and Cliff and Jason. They were students who happened to be white and Chinese and Hispanic. Racial harmony on a HBCU, what a concept.
These are all the reasons why I get so offended when people talk negatively about my kind of school. Even the people who went there who talk mess, I want to punch them too, because there was so much to get out of an experience of going to a HBCU. If you missed it, you missed something the lottery or the highest paying job could NEVER give you.
My hat goes off to my alma mater and all of the HBCUs who keep producing such excellent professionals. cheers!
We love our school! Eagle Pride! -Cubicle Crusaders