RESPONSE: “I Went to a PWI and Still Had A Black College Experience”

So a couple of days ago I was on Facebook scrolling through my news feed and I kept seeing many of my friends sharing an article called “I Went to a PWI and Still Had A Black College Experience,” so I thought hmmm something to read later on, **continues scrolling** then I see a friend of mine who attended an HBCU share the post along with a rant about how inaccurate the writer’s experience was to what a “real” Black college experience is. I continue scrolling, YET AGAIN another share of the post, this time from a friend who attended a PWI (for those of you who don’t know that is, Predominantly White Institute). Now this friend is actually agreeing with the writer, that although he attended an institute where Blacks made up 7% of the student population, he still had a “Black college experience.”
At this point I’m like okay I need to read this article and see what all the debate is about!

MY COLLEGE EXPERIENCE
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Let’s just put it out there, I completed my undergrad at the City College of New York, attended for 5 years, worked on campus for 2 years and joined a few clubs. So you can say I was on campus enough to be familiar with the population. Every semester I took 5 classes and I was always the only Black student in 3 out of the 5. Out of my 5 years attending City College, there were only 3 classes I took where Black students out numbered every other race and that was “Intro to Black Studies, Black Theater in the USA and The Social Inequality of Hip-Hop” **peep the trend here**

Despite the low population of Blacks we still had many events that focused on Black culture, we had several Black student organizations that were pretty active on campus, we even had Black sororities and fraternities that often put on events for us. Something about being around the other Black students on a campus where we were often scarce did bring on a sense of comfort and community. And I have to admit I’ve shared some similar experiences to the author. HOWEVER, I COULD NEVER EVER state that I STILL had a Black college experience at a PWI. It just isn’t possible in my eyes.

WHERE I DISAGREE WITH THE ARTICLE

Although I don’t agree I can’t completely bash her post. It’s HER EXPERIENCE, HER OPINION. But I will admit she (author, Sesali Bowen) did contradict herself several times throughout the article and included content that will make you raise an eyebrow. Take this paragraph here:

“I certainly wish I didn’t have to deal with the racist macro- and micro-aggressions my peers and I experienced at our institution of higher learning: Nooses hung in front of our cultural house, fraternities and sororities throwing parties with racist themes and guests in blackface, our events being over-policed, our intelligence questioned, and my peers not understanding why I wore a bonnet as I checked the mailbox.”

The first line is ENOUGH to argue that there is no possible way she could have still had a Black college experience. Granted my HBCU friends occasionally mention stories of colorism and classism being prevalent on Black college campuses, I still couldn’t even compare that to witnessing nooses being hung and Whites parading in black face. But to add to that she mentions that Black culture was “so lit” at her university because they had fried chicken, shoot dice, had girls walking around with fresh bundles, natural sistas, double dutch tournaments, Black activist and homecomings that looked like All-Star weekend. I mean I’m happy when I hear about PWI’s having Black events, and based on her description it seems like they were pretty LIVE! …HOWEVER… I would argue that many of her statements sounded like something someone who isn’t Black would define as “Being Black.” From the stereo-types mentioned like having fried chicken at the parties and shooting dice and hot cheetos….I WAS JUST WAITING FOR HER TO MENTION THE CAFETERIA HAVING KOOL-AID TOO! **sarcasm** My school could’ve had that all and I still wouldn’t compare it to having a real Black College Experience.

WHERE SHE MADE A VALID POINT

“I see both the pros and the cons of attending an HBCU over a PWI. With the current student debt crisis that unsurprisingly affects black folks disproportionately more, my only advice on selecting a college is: Follow the coin!”
I completely agree with her here! When I graduated college I was DEBT FREE, MY TUITION WAS PAID IN FULL, I was at my graduation ceremony throwing gang signs at Sallie Mae (I kid). And this was the case for many of my friends who opted not to go to HBCUs. Almost everyone I know who went to HBCUs and did not receive scholarships still have loans that they are trying to pay off. And of course you can go to a PWI and still be in debt but the point is that there are pros and cons for each so make your decision based on what you’re able to handle.

Overall it was an interesting read and she’s entitled to her opinion buuuut I personally don’t think she had the real deal Black college experience at her PWI! 😉

To check out the original article, click here!

2 thoughts on “RESPONSE: “I Went to a PWI and Still Had A Black College Experience”

  1. Denise says:

    Interesting read. This question has been brought up time and time again. I personally believe that if it isn’t a black college it isn’t a black college experience, she maybe had a “black experience” but how can one have a black college experience at a non-black college? I do agree that we all need to make a decision that serves our growth as human beings, for me I was already black & proud so it was more important for me to immerse myself in the unknowns of a PWI.
    Keep Striving,
    Denise

    • “I was already black & proud so it was more important for me to immerse myself in the unknowns of a PWI” I love this! In the institute I’m in now this is exactly how I feel. Thank you for your response!

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