To be Black is to accumulate several identities, and then told that the identities you have or have chosen are incorrect. A choice that few of us have to make when applying to college is whether we will attend a Predominately White Institution (PWI) or a Historically Black College/University (HBCU). As someone who is exposed to the never ending debate of which is a better or more suitable choice to go to, I have devised a few perceptions of my own.
I attend a PWI. Very diverse I must say, but very, very, VERY white. After visiting my best friend's HBCU, Lincoln University, my sophomore year I was exposed to how HBCU's really are and I must say, I don't think I'd fit in.
When I applied to college, my top choice was Howard University (HBCU). After rejoicing over my acceptance letter in November, I soon wallowed over the financial aid letter sent in March which indicated that there was no financial aid for me. The school which offered the most financial aid was the school I currently attend, the University of New Haven.
I've seen many stigmas being attached to Black students who attend PWI's.
"You think your degree is better?"
"You're not down for the cause"
"You've given in to the white man"
None of this is true.
As a Black student at a PWI, I really only go to for financial reasons, I feel as though I've never had to address my own Blackness. Although my experience is different, this does not mean racist or biased incidents do not occur on campus. Luckily for me, my school is very liberal and does not tolerate or condone racism in any way and is always looking for ways to build a diverse and inclusive community. Though there will always be people who are not receptive to it, they still try.
Socially, I don't think I would've fit in at an HBCU. Im very quirky, antisocial at times, and love dressing as a bum. These social attributes work for me at a PWI.
Academically, I do wish I had more professors of color and more classes that explored the African American experience.
At my school, most of the Black students create a community. There are typically separate clubs, parties, spaces where Black people get together and do not have to awkwardly feel like the only Black person in the room.
Attending a PWI has made me more aware of my Otherness, but it has also diversified my perception on the social world around me. My social circles include all different shapes and types of people which I appreciate. I used to feel like I was missing out on something by not attending an HBCU, but I haven't (excluding a homecoming that's actually fun).
Do you attend a PWI or an HBCU? What are your thoughts?
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