Thursday, November 14, 2013

Diversity of Being Black

Often times, when people hear or first learn about the African diaspora, it comes from a position of oppression.  To this day, educational institutions mainly emphasize on post slavery conditions and the current state of what it means to be black. Even in African American history courses taught by black professors, the only significant era that is familiar to most of us is the Civil War and the Harlem Renaissance. It's a pure confirmation of the theory that what is known by the elite isn't taught to the masses. No one likes to talk about the royalties and immaculate civilizations before slavery or that the basics of everything we know from math to music originates in Africa...oh, but I will. While it is important to know history and not dismiss any part of it, it is also equally vital to know where the history begins and to paint all dimensions of it.  

Attending a HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) really exposed me to a lot of things I never would have known otherwise involving the richness and vitality of black culture, not to be confused with or limited to African American culture. Because of that, I began to learn to fully embrace myself and the melting pot of what I am naturally apart of.  For so long, I "knew" about my roots without connecting to them and could never explain to peers how I identify with mulatto if neither one of my parents are of European descent.  In retrospect, I realize how silly it is to believe that being mixed is as restricted and absolute as I thought it was. This realization was confirmed by a former colleague and white man who I assumed was Irish. Ask me how dumb I felt when he told me he was actually African American? The sad part is that he took more pride in saying he was African American than most black people do.  

If you ask anyone who chose to attend a PWI (Predominately White Institution) why they chose their school, I almost guarantee they'll say it's because of the diversity. I absolutely respect that preference and do believe it's essential to interact with people outside of your own understanding to better explore different backgrounds, but have yet to grasp why they feel like that aspect of college is not offered at a HBCU or why unity of black people are looked down upon. The myth that HBCU's aren't "diverse enough" is extremely close-minded and shows a very limited perspective on the world we live in.  It does stand true that Black schools don't receive as much funding as larger Division I schools and lack substantial resources most of the time, however, each color is symbolic of an array of different, yet equally beautiful, cultural experiences. Perhaps, it is the duty of more black people to love ourselves enough to represent ourselves in a better light in order to recreate the standard.


At the end of the day, I am simply a black woman in this skin I'm in...and it took a while to get to that point. Even though labels don't define who I am or who you are, they are attached to us within this human experience and the ones I carry that with pride.  Don't categorize me or put me, or anyone else, in a box, because we are all multi-dimensional. Don't automatically stamp the context of a person's knowledge or capabilities because of race. Last but not least, don't assume that I'll only want to discuss oppression, when my main focus, when it comes to race, is to talk about truth, liberation, justice, and progression.  

@ChymereA
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6 comments

  1. *stands up and claps*

    You did that! I really enjoyed reading this. I learn something new everyday and it's evident that you did your research.

    I attended a PWI for undergrad and will admit the reason that I chose to attend (as well as other people I know) is because I received more scholarship and monies there, then I would have at an HBCU.

    I think that's one thing that I always envy about those attending an HBCU, you are taught to embrace yourself and the melting pot that you are naturally apart of. At a PWI we don't get that (obviously). Instead of embracing, you constantly feel out of place in the classroom because you're the only one or one of three in a 100+ classroom setting.

    I've been thinking about attending an HBCU grad school and this helped me.

    Court

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    1. Thank you so much, Courtnee!! I think it's awesome that you are considering an HBCU for grad and definitely think it's something you should look into. Glad I could help with that major decision even in the slightest bit!

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  2. I love how you really took the time to understand this issue and explain it to others - really awesome post.

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  3. Loving the new blog name and have updated my blog roll as well :) In reference to this post, I agree with a lot of points that you made. I do think that in African American classes only certain aspects of black culture are emphasized (I've only taken a couple thus far but from what I've seen, this is a good point). I think a lot of times, being black, we're taught that we're entitled to that feeling of oppression and everything we talk about has that possibility to go into that default mode of which we've been programmed. As blacks, is always where we've come from not necessarily where we are. I definitely did consider going to an HBCU because Howard was forever on my mind but after living in a predominantly black area during middle and high school, I sought for diversity and unlike your mention of PWI, I don't believe GSU falls under that category - I'd say it's about 50/50, with many other racial groups represented in our student bodies. When I sought for diversity, I literally wanted diversity. Not just more white, less black, but an equal playing field for all groups of people. And I think HBCUs sometimes don't get the broadest array of students filing in because of how expensive it is, which again is due to lack of funding as you mentioned, but I could never afford to go to the one I wanted to go to even if I wanted to. Butttt...going back to the point that you were making lol. I like that you've introduced this blog and are explaining to present, past, and future readers your intent and that that intent doesn't necessarily encompass viewpoints of oppression and that it shouldn't be assumed just because of the color of your skin.

    I really liked this post and hearing your opinions of HBCUs vs PWIs. It was very interesting

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    1. And that's the same with your school. Yes, it's diverse, but just as you said about blacks that it's not where we come from, it's the same for every American with different roots. I mean, I get the preference, but there is a diversity present at HBCU's that is misunderstood.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your opinion!

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