At what point do we say we’ve had our fill of racism and racist behavior, and we decide to move on? Institutionally, it doesn’t seem like we’ve yet arrived at that point, but it feels like we should’ve been there and gone several years ago.
Fans from SSU and GSU corroborate that some knuckleheads on the GSU side instigated and carried on with racial slurs against one or some of our women. Is this going to be enough, or do we keep trading in financial reward for cultural risk when it comes to our HBCU brand, and historically black dignity?
We still play guaranteed games in football and basketball which propagate varying ideas of socio-economic inferiority with every blowout. But instead of re-engineering our approach to collegiate athletics, we essentially tell each other, “do the same thing you’ve been doing for the last 30 years, just try harder at it.”
Racist treatment for fans and anti-HBCU and anti-LGBT legislation wasn’t enough for the CIAA to leave Charlotte, and not enough for black and LGBT fans to demand it.
Predominantly white institutions around the country, shoved under a searing spotlight just a year ago by protesting black students who showed the nation the meaning of ‘micro-aggressions,’ and ‘safe space,’ still attract the largest share of black enrollment, even with many HBCUs breaking enrollment records.
We did more to respond to Wendy Williams clueless rants about HBCUs, and VH1’s airing of ‘Sorority Sisters’ then we have done to preserve our own campuses. We have been infinitely more concerned with how HBCUs are viewed on reality television, then with the financial solvency of our athletic and institutional capacity.
We’ve raised more money for Paine College in the last year than at any point in the school’s history, but only after its accreditation was taken.
When lawmakers in North Carolina proposed to reduce tuition at three HBCUs to $500, we protested enough so now only one HBCU remains on the verge of disaster instead of three. That one school — Elizabeth City State University — yesterday announced that a new executive team installed by the UNC System Board of Governors would be running its daily operations, completing its full takeover of the school likely to be merged in the next three years.
ECSU is one of several historically black institutions, including Albany State University, Alcorn State University, Fort Valley State University, Grambling State University and South Carolina State University to have a president appointed by predominantly white higher education boards without the customary courtesy of a national search or campus listening sessions.
Florida A&M University, with all of the attention and acrimony surrounding the fight between its president and board of trustees, will covertly be the next to make the list, thanks to new rules passed by the Florida Board of Governors earlier this year.
Maybe we keep waiting for Soledad O’Brien or Roland Martin to bring it up. Or maybe its going to require an actual merger, or the Department of Education closing an HBCU due to financial insolvency. But something has to give for our people to become more astute beyond reacting to the absolute worst of circumstance — a body in the street and slain on camera, an unjust verdict, a bill on the edge of passing or the closure of a black campus.
There are many systems at work to stymie our progress, and every one of them is built upon and powered by the notion that we don’t pay attention until its too late. And it shouldn’t take an inflammatory headline in the HBCU Digest, or a Facebook rant to get us to a better place of concern and mobilization.
At some point, we have to act like we’re as smart and worthy of equity as we say we are. And we have to do it in all cases, not just the ones involving Wendy Williams or Mona Scott-Young.