Thursday, August 18, 2011

Are Black Colleges Racist?

Photo Credit: Roundup Russy
In this era of increasing ethnic diversity within the United States, there are some that question whether Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU's) are still needed. To be more direct, some detractors of HBCU's question whether they are actually racist in nature. They argue, for example, how would it be received if there were colleges that identified themselves as "White Colleges & Universities?"

I've argued before here about why I feel there continues to be a need for HBCU's for those that choose to pursue higher education in that setting. I've also provided some facts here about HBCU's that might be of interest to you.

Because I've written at length about this before, I won't go into the reasons about my thinking on the place of HBCU's within modern America but it is interesting to note that many feel that HBCU's are somehow more exclusive to non-blacks than major state schools are to people of color. Having had the privilege of visiting a number of the country's top HBCU's, I know from firsthand experience that though in the minority, I have always been welcomed and treated with courtesy and respect during my time on HBCU campuses.

The Wall Street Journal has written a good article detailing the efforts of HBCU's to recruit non-black students. Nsenga Burton, of, comments:
"Some black colleges are stepping up recruiting at mostly white or Hispanic high schools and community colleges. Delaware State University is bringing 100 Chinese students to its Dover campus this fall for cultural and language training. Other colleges are showcasing unique programs. Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens promotes its chorale, which backed Queen Latifah in the 2010 Super Bowl, for example.

Even top-ranked black schools such as Howard University in Washington, D.C., and Spelman College in Atlanta, are recruiting more aggressively in the face of intensifying competition for top African-American students.

About 82% of students at the nation's 105 black colleges are African-American, a percentage that has been fairly constant over the past 30 years, according to a data analysis for this column by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a New York nonprofit. Increases in Hispanic and Asian students have offset declines in whites, partly because of cuts in federal- and state-scholarship programs that encouraged white students to attend historically black colleges, says the fund's president, Johnny C. Taylor Jr. He predicts growth in white, Hispanic and Asian enrollment, as black colleges cast a wider net.

We're glad the Wall Street Journal has discovered what is commonly known on HBCU campuses, there is racial, religious, gender and cultural diversity on them. Recruiting outside of your core group makes sense especially since Blacks have many more options than before. Further with the elimination of affirmative-action programs and massive cuts in funding at mainstream universities, it stands to reason that more whites and Hispanics would be seeking education elsewhere. Yes, affirmative-action helped white students too. Some graduate and professional programs at HBCUs have been extremely diverse for decades now. It's no surprise that colleges and universities that have always valued diverse populations would reach out to non-black populations in the interest of continuing this tradition and survival."
Even though our nation's college campuses are becoming more ethnically diverse each year, American ethnic minority students are still outnumbered by white students at most of our nation's top schools. Yes, African Americans still comprise the majority of students at HBCU's, but the efforts of HBCU's to recruit and include students of other ethnicities is similar to the efforts of most major state schools to include students of color.  Because of their history, HBCU's are readily identified as institutions primarily created for African Americans students but this designation makes them no more exclusive than any other state college where whites are the overwhelming majority.


Mr. President said...

Thank you for your very thoughtful and well-researched position on the current, and growing, diversity on HBCU campuses. Our schools have never excluded any race of student -- something we are quite proud of.

God Bless!

scottmcrocker said...

Thank you for your kind comment, Mr. President.