Embracing HBCU Pornography
There are many social and moral debates that people can have about the watching and making of pornography, but few can argue about the basic tenets of what makes the industry profitable and lasting.
It’s the selling of sex; a basic human need that everyone wants, everyone needs, and is socially taboo enough to push the average, well-intentioned person into a tug-of-war between passing curiosity and outright addiction.
Pornography grosses billions of dollars a year, despite having federal laws and advertising restrictions that limit its visibility to the masses. If they want to find it, people young and old can find a way to get to a store, website or channel that will deliver the goods.
On a far less morally questionable scale, so goes the way we approach HBCU social culture. Students and alums relish sports, homecoming, parties, Greek life and all the fun things that flavor the college experience. These elements attract students from around the country, and bring alumni back to campuses with carefully crafted engagement resources planted within events.
But a look at any common HBCU website or talking points from leadership conveys no connection to the parties and celebrations that enrich the black college culture.
Why shun the elements that make HBCUs culturally unique and appealing? Why present HBCU value and omit the long-standing social structure that, outside of the universal “do you have my major” and “can I afford this place” questions, is a top predictor of enrollment and retention?
Why do we pretend that HBCU “porn” doesn’t exist?
This isn’t to suggest to campus life and HBCU social culture trumps academic rigor and research. But it is a part of the college experience that, at the very least, HBCUs should risk to test the cost-benefit ratio of promoting. North Carolina A&T describes its homecoming celebration as the “Greatest Homecoming on Earth.” “GHOE” has become an annual staple among global trending topics on Twitter.
So how many clicks does it take to get to any mention of it on the NCA&T campus life portal? Same thing with Howard, the Mecca of HBCUs with the most commercially recognized homecoming in Black America; zero mention of it outside of its annual event-dedicated site.
Neither school posts blogs, photos, videos, anything that can confirm what potential students have heard about these events. Both schools, like many HBCUs, drastically miss the opportunity to shape the perspective on how social programming builds community, solicits support, invites media coverage, and attracts revenue streams.
At least students and young alumni get it.
Social life is a major part of the HBCU experience, and while every opportunity should be taken to shout about the black college legacy of academic and professional preparedness, other elements of undergraduate and alumni social ties can’t be devalued or privately celebrated.
If HBCUs say they change lives through learning, scholarship and service, let them also cop to the civic pride the build through parties, football games and step shows. These things don’t make us lesser scholars, unfocused students or lackadaisical alumni; they make us well-rounded people who know how to have fun and serve humanity when the right time demands each.
Socialization is a basic need and few institutions do it better than HBCUs. If we stop treating our social legacy like a common skin flick, the more power we’ll give to students and alumni to embrace all that we have to offer, and for potential students to join in the fun.