It is that time of the year again where students around the U.S are receiving their college acceptance (or rejection) letters. It is a proud moment for Black students and parents, many whose financial mobility is set upon their kids graduating a university.
This time of year has me thinking of my own path to undergrad. I can’t help but to think of how unaware I was about a lot of things when it came to choosing a college.
As a first generation college student, I was just happy to have achieved my dreams of rising above the confines of my inner city community.
Prior to college, I had no real understanding of racial identities in America and the politics that come with it. I also had no real understanding of institutional racism. This meant that I did not understand that many of the institutions accepting Black students for college, are the same institutions which once banned our presence.
Yes, a new day has come, but this history has lingering affects on these institutions and the people who run them.
Historically Black College and Universities are the safe spaces for Black college students. At HBCU’s we do not have to worry about being perceived as inferior by the institution due to race. At an HBCU everything is already geared towards Black student achievement and raising their sense of racial pride.
At the predominately white universities, Black students and students of color as a whole, are constantly fighting to carve out space within institutions that have historically deemed us un-worthy.
The lasting affects of this lockout are apparent in the hiring practices at predominately white universities. Black faculty at these universities continue to be largely under-presented, more than the students. When in reality, Black faculty and professors are integral in the success of Black student achievement.
Representation matters, especially in higher education.
It helps shape what students deem possible upon graduation, when they see those who look like them in positions of power, or just on campus in general.
Students coming from inner city communities who find themselves in small, remote, white-towns and areas for college need to be laced with a certain level of understanding. It is going to be critical for their survival and achievement.
- Find you a mentor. It may be hard due to the lack of representation at PWI’s, but find you a faculty member or professor that can offer you life skills and advice on navigating the university and surrounding community.
- Find You A Set of Friends That You Can Truly Trust. Everyone is NOT your friend even though you may hang out. True friends never switch up on you.
- Try your best to avoid confrontations and fights with white students and locals. This might be the most important message to stress. College student or not, you are Black in a community where the criminal system is ran by white folks. To them, you were guilty before you even stepped foot in court.