The PWI vs. HBCU Debate Needs To Die

Photo by William Stitt on Unsplash

Honestly, I don’t even know why this needs to be a debate. But it is, because black people love to debate. I blame the ridiculous amounts of hours spent waiting at barber shops and beauty salons. For instance, when you’re waiting all day because Mrs. Janette double booked your quick weave with Sheila’s wash and set. Or, when you ain’t got the time to let first chair Willie fxck up your line-up so you wait until your barber finishes with the eight people in front of you — one of whom wants to have all the lines that lead to nowhere that you could ever imagine. Yes, I blame them for our love to debate — makes the most sense to me.

Anyway, publicly demonstrated racial transgressions have caused some to bring up the PWI vs. HBCU debate — not that it ever went away — and the best place for black students to further their education.

I get it. Why make your self susceptible to discrimination and hatred when you can go thrive around people who look like you in a much more supportive environment?

On the other side, why give racists the satisfaction and reduce the fight of those like Harold A. Franklin to a meaningless point in history?

Personally, I don’t think that it matters where black students choose to pursue their degrees. Each type of institution provides unique experiences for black students, and they each have their cons as well. In the end, all black students who complete their programs are college-trained professionals ready to leave their mark in their respective industries and fields. No institution, in my opinion, negates their ambition.the-pwi-vs-hbcu-debate-is-a-waste-of-time

For that reason alone, the debate needs to die. But, I’m assuming you still have your arguments for either side at this point so let me entertain you for a bit as I debunk the four most popular arguments I typically hear in this pointless debate.

  1. HBCUs are not a representation of the “real world.”

    This is probably the most stupid argument because I’m willing to bet most of your social circles are not representations of the “real world.” I’ll be completely frank. Most of my friends are black. I hang with black people on the weekends. I hang with black people at home. I hang with black people when I eat, when I travel, when I live my happy life in the “real world.” For me, a job is not the only aspect of the “real world,” so a school where a majority of the students are white doesn’t equate to the “real world” for me. And, if I’m being completely honest, you know if you go to a PWI, you’re not going to gravitate towards mixed crowds. Most often, we tend to congregate with those who look like us; hence, the reason this argument is stupid.

  2. A PWI looks better on a resume than an HBCU.

    According to who? I went to a PWI. True, Auburn is not an Ivy League, but according to this argument, it’s supposed to hold weight, right? Well, that could be the case, but I haven’t seen the study so I don’t agree with it. In fact, I believe as long as you have an ethnic sounding name, some companies don’t care where you went to school, and will still throw your resume in the trash. I kid you not — I’m a part of a class action at this very moment for being discriminated against — along with 84 other black applicants — during the application process. These companies don’t care where we went to school, and if you did happen to go to Harvard, I’m willing to bet that at least one person who views your resume will think you only got in because of affirmative action, and not because they feel like you truly should have been accepted because you’re smart as shit.

  3. HBCUs have better homecomings and an overall better social experience.

    Let’s be real. A good social experience in college is easily any situation with some good music, free food, fun people and a cheap bottle of Aristocrat Vodka, Jim Beam Bourbon or case of Natty Light. This argument is definitely a preference thing, and that’s fine. If you like to have week-long celebrations for homecoming that culminate with a dope ass performance by a show band and a mediocre football game, go for it!! But, I will tell you, there is nothing like waking up around 8:00 am on a Saturday morning, and heading to tailgate with strangers who let you come eat their food just because you scream ‘War Eagle!’ So no, homecoming isn’t special to [black] PWI students, but really, any big football game or basketball game — depending on where you go — can be a homecoming for us. Lastly, you can really partake in the social experience at either, regardless of where you go to school. It was nothing for me and my girls to hop in the car and go kick it with our Tuskegee friends down the road and vice versa.

  4. Black students at PWIs are “white washed.”

    I laugh at this. All the time. I don’t think a “white washed” person would love Issa Rae simply for saying she’s rooting for anybody that’s black at the Emmy AwardsIssa-Rae-Unapologetically-Blackbut I digress. The fact of the matter is that going to a PWI can heighten the appreciation of your blackness, if anything. I’ve always been taught my black history, and I’ve always been aware of the plight of a black person in America, but did I experience it directly before Auburn? Nah — because I had parents and relatives protecting me from the cruelties of the world. Auburn was where I experienced my first blatant racist situation. Actually, I had a couple of them, but it didn’t change my view of the school. It actually served as a strong foundation for the reason I started this blog, why I’m outspoken about injustices and discrimination, why I want to do more to advocate for African diaspora studies in middle and high school, why I still want to learn more myself, and why I’m so adamant about being black and proud and celebrating us whenever, wherever, for whatever.

So, if you haven’t gone to college, go where you want to go. Go where you will create the best experience for you. If you have gone to college, shut up. You went where you went. We’re not a monolithic group of people. Our preferences are not always going to be same, and that means that we should be able to have school pride without taking this debate seriously. Ever.