Thursday, December 11, 2008

Black Provincialism: Help or Hindrance?

Why is it incumbent upon me as a black woman to prove that I don't despise "all things black"? Why is there even an "all things black" phenomenon? Exactly WHAT are "black things"? How is this not self-inflicted racism? Why should I bother to live up to stereotypes and bad caricatures of black womanhood to somehow prove that I am "down"( is that black enough)? Actually "down for what? Why must all black thought be monolithic? These are the questions that race through my mind whenever I have a conversation with familiars that I love (aka my family).

I understand being proud of your heritage and having healthy self-esteem but have we gone too far?

One area of black provincialism is the decision to attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities --Are they Healthy or a Hindrance? Mini-me wants to attend a historically black college -- I would rather that she does not, but it's her choice. My familiars never have a shortage of words on the subject of the prevalence of racism in our society. So, if racism is such an issue then why would I be happy about my kid going to a college which "racists" will view as inferior? I guess I can answer that with "who cares what racists think", but as a Mom I don't want my daughter to be hindered in anyway by a provincial mindset. Can anyone help me sort through this one? I concede that I can not see clearly on this issue and I implore a bit wisdom and guidance here.


Biased Girl said...

Tough call. One of best friends went to a Historically black college after growing up in a primarily black urban neighborhood, and wasn't exposed to what he calls "White people" until after he started his first professional job. In fact I'm his first Real white friend. It's been interesting because we have such an open relationship we've discussed stereotypes and misconceptions that he had prior to getting to know me and others.

But at his roots, he was open to whatever all along he just hadn't been exposed to it. His mother raised him to be a good boy, and that would have been the case regardless of which school he attended.

Zabeth said...

Are you paying for her college education? If so- you have a say.

Attorneymom said...

CBW, I thought we resolved this issue.

Conservative Black Woman said...

It reared it's head again AM. I can't let it go. Help me!!!!!!

The Smokin' Frog said...

I wish I could talk to your kid. I would tell her to listen to her mother, since she is a heck of a lot smarter than most anyone I know. Your daughter should be proud to have you as a mother.
I hope things work out for you and your daughter.

darcsfalcon said...

Forgive me if this comes out wrong. It seems to me that going to a historically Black college is kind of like self-segregation. Wasn't the Civil Rights movement about fighting all of that sort of thing? People fought, and died, so there would be no more racial barriers, no more segregation, and now it seems that many Black people have decided to segregate themselves. In my mind, that's kind of a slap in the face to those who fought so hard. If we are truly color blind, there shouldn't be any "White" colleges or "Black" colleges, right?

As a parent, naturally you want the best education for your child, and I agree with Zabeth that if you are paying for it, you have a vote.

Bookworm Girl said...

like your readers have said, if you're paying for it you have a say.

my oldest is a third year college student, dean's list every semester, at a college of their choice in a large city. i would not have chosen it, but it was a compromise because HBCUs were out. i would not allow it. my youngest has made her choices as well, but no HBCUs.

we are a few weeks away from the year 2009. i do not support segregation of any kind. also, i want my kids to have the full gamut of the college experience, with as little drama as possible. i have found that among blacks, my family values and political perspective fall into the minority category. it makes no sense to place my children in the midst of an uphill battle that will detract from their studies.

maidintheus said...

I'll answer questions with questions.

Wouldn't forced segregation the real problem v segregation by choice?

How much (if any) does 'race' have to do with obtaining a quality education?

What are the actual reasons for wanting to attend a particular place? No wrong answers, but can one get these things elsewhere, due location or something?

Is 'indoctrination' v 'just education' less at one place then another? Are there places with a more preferred 'teaching method' that would also have the other things that your college bound may (understandably) be interested in?

Conservative Black Woman said...

Thanks guys for all of your comments. I am seeing a bit more clearly. Here are my issues... Yes, I could put my foot down and say NO but I want her to be happy since she has to be in the environment for the next 4 years. She says she wants the "black experience" (WTH!!!! - Duh, you ARE black how much more experienced can you get do-do bird)

Mini-me seems to think that I think these schools are inferior academically this is emphatically not the case although I question why their admission standards are soooooo low. I didn't bust my butt paying for her tuition and toting her across statelines 5 days a week to ensure the best education my money could buy for her to go to school with individual reading on an 8th grade level!!! She says this isn't the case with the college that she has chosen, but I can't find any quantitative analysis to prove or disprove this because their admission standards are pretty low too when compared with tradtional schools.

What is bothering me even more than that is what Bookworm hit values,politics and overall world view isn't popular among my black folks. I don't want Mini-me to be indoctrinated with the prevailing "mindset" which I'm sure is pervasive at this school.

I know that most college environments are liberal and there are worst things she could pickup than a "mindset". But I am confident that my daughter is firmly planted in the Word of God. Her faith is tight-- her politics -- not so much. But I'm sure that all parents of the college-bound worry about the influences their kids will face in college. So this is part of my problem too. Am I over worried, over reacting. Everytime I start to think that I'm cool with this and it's not so bad the feeling that Mini-me is making the wrong choice overtakes me again. Sighing.....MINI-ME PLEASE DON'T DO THIS...(sorry to be a drama-queen)

Rose-Bud said...

CBW, I understand your angst.

I am in the midst of completing my dissertation on HBCU's and there is no current data that exist which states HBCU's are equal to traditional white colleges in regards to the quality of education. HBCU's stopped collecting that type of data long ago, and rarely participate in studies that can be viewed by the general public as unfavorable to HBCU's

From my own observations of teaching at a HBCU for three years is that due to the low-no admission standards, thier students are not ready for the rigors of college academia.

I had to lower my lesson plans to the level of my students, even in the adult completion programs.

Also, there is the problem of HBCU graduates not being able to compete with thier peers in the job market because of their socialization with only one race, except their instructors, which they give little respect to.

Futhermore, HBCU students are brain-washed to think their race is better than others, and if the others don't cowtow to that vein of thinking, they lable them as racist. How can your employer be racist if they hired you and expect you to adhere to the company standards?

In addition, HBCU's rely on affirmative action programs in workplaces in order to get their graduates hired, and preach-teach a victimization mentality which is unhealthy to the student.

At one HBCU I worked, a student attached his visually impaired music teacher because he didn't get picked to sing in the Christmas program, and another student of mine got busted for selling drugs out of his dorm room.

One of HBCU's main mission was to educate blacks due to them not being able to attend a white colleges. Currently, thier mission is to enroll those who are the first in their family to attend college. What is not being addressed is that everybody is not supposed to attend college, that is what trade schools are for. Still they come and are in remedial classes almost two years before they are ready for college level classes.

The data I collected on HBCU's dictates that its mission is outdated, and is more of a hindrance than a help to black students.

I understand your daughter wanting to get the 'black experience' offered at HBCU's, but she should reconsider going to a HBCU if that is her main reason.

Depending on her major and whether or not that program is certified by a recognized accrediting agency, her degree might be looked upon by employers as unfavorable due to the fact they know HBCU graduates got a chip on their shoulders, and seem to look for the slightest reason to file a discrimination suit against their employer.
I have additional data on HBCU's. Let me know if you want to view them.

Conservative Black Woman said...

Thank you RoseBud for your honesty. My gut was telling me that this is the case with HBCU's. I would so appreciate any additional information you have.

"Mini-Me" said...

Apparently I’m known as "Mini-Me" so I figured I would put my two cents in. I applied to Spelman College in the beginning of November as an early decision applicant and am patiently waiting to hear back from them. Spelman is my number one choice which is why I chose to do early decision, a binding plan; if accepted, I will withdraw my applications from all other schools.

A couple of weeks ago my mom and I were having the conversation that seems to resurface everyday and she was talking about one of her friends who attended a traditional white college is realizing how hard it is to get into an Ivy League for grad school. My mom made the point that because it is so competitive to get into these top colleges for grad work, I should not attend a Historically Black College with less of a reputation. It seems that all the folks I know who have attended Historically Black Colleges, however, are doing pretty well. To name a few: My friend Ashley’s sister came out of Hampton University, a historically black college, and is now studying medicine at Georgetown University. My friend Ryan graduated from Fort Valley State University, a historically black college, and is now working on his masters at Syracuse University. When my mom attended the Spelman information session this past September, a mother came to tell the group that her daughter received a full ride to Harvard after graduating from Spelman. I don’t understand how attending a Historically Black College “hindered” these people in their future collegiate pursuits.

My friend Olivia is currently a freshman at Clark Atlanta University. At first her mom was struggling with the idea of her daughter going to a historically black college but once she got down there and got to talking to some of the professors and admissions officers she felt much more comfortable. She told me that she knew the professors actually cared about the students, giving them a kick in the butt when needed, and would treat them as individuals rather than just a number. “Hey Taylor, I found a scholarship you might eligible for” is the type of relationship I want to have with my professors. Even in my high school fashion marketing class, my teacher Mrs. Woodson, an African American, has taken a personal interest in how I’m performing in other classes, how I’m doing with the whole college process, how I’m doing with the scholarships, etc. I have another teacher, Mrs. Lamson, who is not an African American and is the sweetest lady in the world who checks in with me from time to time for updates. I know Mrs. Woodson, however, has gone above and beyond outside of the classroom to help me out because she is determined to see not only the black ones but all of her students do well. In college, I don’t need my professors to hold my hand but attending a school for four years where your professors and peers begin to feel like family, to me, is important.

As for “the low standards” argument, the typical student admitted into Spelman has a 3.6/3.7 grade point average. In no way does my gpa match this, which is why I’m working my butt off to get it to where it needs to be. I’m not even there yet and I’m putting in overtime so I don’t understand why my mom thinks I won’t be challenged. As for MONEY, I know that Spelman doesn’t give a lot of it. You pretty much have to exceed their admission requirements by far (again, it doesn’t seem like they have low standards). I understand that I am going to pretty much have to pay for school by myself which is why I am in the process of applying for as many scholarships as I possibly can.

Earlier in the week my mom also said you can’t believe the hype that the school tells you about sisterhood and excellence because they’ll tell you whatever just to get you to come. Aside from what the school tells prospective students, I have yet to meet a Spelman student or alumni who doesn’t /didn’t love the time they spent there.

My mom has also told me that she does not want me to put myself in a box. If anyone has seen “This Christmas” Lauren London plays the character of a Spelmanite who brings home her boyfriend, Devean, who attends the neighboring school, Morehouse. One character asked him in a condescending tone what the experience was like attending an all black institution. He replied: “Morehouse has certain principles by which its entire foundation stands. It includes an appreciation for the ideas of justice, equality, democracy, humane treatment of all people and spiritual development.” The man who asked him the question said “Sounds like you got it from the school mission statement.” Devean replied: “I did…Morehouse is the right place for me, not because it’s an all black school but because embodies the traditions and beliefs I value. The fact that all the students look just like me, is a bonus.” Well, I couldn’t have said it better. As for the putting myself in a box argument, I’ve been in predominately white schools. I know how interact with people of all color and I will still know how to do so in four years. I don’t see anything wrong with attending one of the top schools in the (Ebony) League and moving on to one of the top schools in the Ivy League thereafter.

Conservative Black Woman said...

Mini-Me~I care more about you than Mrs. Woodson and Mrs. Lamson and any perspective professor you may have at any school you choose to attend. So, what's your point? Ms. Woodson didn't choose an HBCU and Mrs. Lamson will never have to have this fight with her kids. Secondly, you have a family-- if you feel that you need familial support at school then keep your butt home. I'm not sending you to school for a "secondary family" feeling. I would be interested in knowing how many politicians send their children to HBCU's. Ms. Brown, Jesse Jackson, Jr's grandmother told me that none of her grandchildren were even allowed to consider an HBCU. Have you asked yourself why?

If Spelman were the best choice for you then I WOULD want you to go there. It is not. It is not best for you. I know that you think it is but you are mistaken. You write that you can't see anything wrong with attending one of the top schools in the "Ebony League". Well, that's what's wrong-- that there is an ebony league (it's a joke). Who takes that seriously in the "real" world? I want you to go to a traditional school and "kick-ass", you can do it! I want you to be competitive not only on a national level but an international level. You will not be able to build a case for that isulating yourself in an HBCU -- nobody except someone who has attended an HBCU gets it. I promise you they do not! Why is it so hard to find data about performance for HBCU students and graduates? Why don't they participate in studies? Is it because the data may not speak well for them? Life is no crystal stair honey, don't make it harder than you have to. I don't want you ill-equipped in any area. Sure, many students may do well after graduation as I'm sure you will but perception counts unfortuntely and a degree from an HBCU will not be as favorable in the eyes of the world as a degree from a traditional college (hey, I didn't create the situation - it is what it is). You don't have to do the HBCU thing, you have other options, explore them.

I didn't send you Alex. Montessori, Immanuel & St. Stephens for you to settle for a less competitive college. This isn't the trajectory I was aiming you toward. You are concerned about your GPA I know but everyone knows on a national level that the FFX Cnty grading scale is higher than the nat'l average and most schools will take that into account.

While I am disappointed with your decision, there are much worst decisions that you could have made.

I am trying with every fiber within my being to understand your position and support you in it but.... this is truly a challenge.

JudyBright said...

Just my two cents CBW and MM. I might make both of you mad.

A couple of things concerned me in MM's comments, and I think I had some of the same thoughts when I was looking through shiny college brochures.

First, I think the whole thing about professors being like family is junk. I don't think it happens much. Even if it does, I'm not sure how valuable it is. I'd rather have a knowledgeable professor who's a good teacher. This whole prof as friend thing is perpetuated by the pictures in college brochures.

Also, early commitments benefit the university only, not the student. They do this so you won't truly weigh your other options. What if you change your mind in a few months? They want it to cost you and make you think twice.

This one might make both of you mad. I believe one of the primary concerns (especially in this economy) that you should consider is how much debt you will accrue while in college. You don't feel it now, nor will you in your 4-8 years in school, but it will be a weight around your neck for years to come. I'd advocate an in state state university and a part time job, plus as many scholarships as possible.

Also, the whole Ivy League thing is a rip off. They probably still have some excellent programs, but they're so extremely liberal and outrageously expensive I can't imagine wanting to go there.

maidintheus said...

The post by 'Mini Me' is a big treat. Thank you!

I'll be frank and blunt, for expediency.

Perhaps both of you haven't discussed, fully, the actual things that seem to be the individual concern. Perhaps neither of you are speaking to the others concern, enough.

It seems that MM wants to attend an HBCU to be more integrated in that community and the accompanied familial relationships . It seems that CBW has understandable concerns about 'group mentality' and better rewards for the effort.

Aside from input from family, friends, and others, the two of you tenderly love each other. After all is done, it will still be a most important relationship. As you pursue a deeper understanding of each others reasons, as this deserves, I'll be praying for wisdom and honest, respectful, comprehension.

Taylor, your congenial attitude with having everyone's two cents is much appreciated. Be blest.

Rose-Bud said...

Below is the research you asked for:

1)Branson, H. R. (1987). The hazards of black higher education: Program and commitment needs. Journal of Negro Education, 56(2), 129-144.
2)Fleming, J. (1981) Blacks in college: A comparative study of student success in black and white institutions. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.
3)Jonsen, R. W. (1984). Small black colleges cope with the eighties: Sharp eye on the horizon, strong hand on the tiller. Journal of Higher Education, 55(2), 171-183.
4)Nabrit, S. M. (1971). Reflections on the future of black colleges. Daedalus. Journal of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 100, 600-677.
5)McGrath, E. (1965). The predominantly negro colleges and university in transitions. New York. Teachers College, Columbia University

6)Maxwell, B. (2007) I had a dream. St Petersburg Times, May 13. Retrieved 01/15/2008 from
7)Maxwell, B. (2007) A dream lay dying. St Petersburg Times, May 20. Retrieved 01/15/2008 from
8)Williams, D. (2008) Black Colleges. Townhall On-Line News Letter.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008 from

An informed decision can turn out to be the best decision one makes in their lifetime.
I wish you and your daughter well.

Conservative Black Woman said...

Rosebud~Thank you so much for this information. The only one I had read before was the Walter Williams piece on Townhall which I of course shared with Taylor (Mini-me) but she insists that Spelman women are different. Bill Maxwell's op-ed I had not seen but its very interesting that he speaks about the need to coddle and parent the students and questions whether they are helping or hindering.

I will insist that she goes through the information you have shared and continue to pray that she makes an informed decision.

Maidintheus~Thanks for your encouragement to both Taylor and myself.

JudyBright~Neither Taylor or I are angered by your comments. She actually has friends who are opting to go to a state school and live at home. Frankly I wouldn't be too disappointed if Taylor does the same.

Anyway the Spelman' early decision letter were mailed yesterday and we should hear very soon if she is "in" or waitlisted. Either way I lose. If she's in I'm very unhappy and if she is not in or put on hold then she is very unhappy. Aaarggg!!!!

Pamela said...

I really have nothing to contribute as far as advice is concerned. It never crossed my mind to attend a HBCU. I don't have children either.

I grew up in the DC area. I had black culture around all the time. I guess I did not feel the need for that type of camaraderie when I was going to college. I was also exposed to integrated schools. I just wanted to go to a good school where I could be trained.

I thought the following was an interesting article dealing with merging HBCUs with white schools to save money and end the Jim Crow mentality.

I just want to know everyone's thoughts about this. This is being considered in GA. The reasons to keep them separate I found might come into play here on this blog post.

Anonymous said...

I love stupid black conservatives. Especially ones that can't spell. Rose bud maybe you should have went to a HBC because you would have learned to spell 'their'
What you idiots fail to realize that so called traditional schools have no interest in educating black students. The only state that has two veterinary schools is Alabama. Tuskegee had one and the racist in Auburn couldn't stand the fact that a black school had one an created their own. Spelman grads do very well and your daughter would be lucky to go there and get away from a dumb self hating negro like yourself.

Conservative Black Woman said...

Anon~You have proven my point. After all of the dialogue that has gone on in this thread the best you can do is call names. How low-level, small minded and ignorant you are.

Your provincialism is the very reason that I am opposed to my daughter attending an HBCU because I fear that she will pick-up the mentality which you have exhibited just now that if a black person doesn't think the way that You think that they should then they are stupid and self-hating.

BTW, Taylor was accepted into Spelman and I'm sure she will do very well not just because she will be at Spelman but because she is an amazingly driven young woman destined to succeed in spite of this decision she has made. I just pray that she isn't jaded by the pervasive "all black thought must be monolithic" bullshiester that exists among black quasi-socialist fundamental progressive racism chasers such as yourself. And my prayer for you Anon is that you and your limited vocabulary mature.

Anonymous said...

Here is why Taylor aka Mini-me will not be jaded-- because YOU are her Mom. She radiates all of the warmth, grace, and intelligence that YOU have poured into her.

I am proud of her and I am Proud of you my beloved. We will be OK.

TMartin (the husband)

Brother OMi said...

as a parent: if i'm paying, you go where I go... bottom line. College is an investment. I liked to put my money where I will get the most out of it.

as an academic: a good number of my friends attended HBCU's. they fell into two categories:

a. those who came from middle class to upper class families and never really been around their own folks before. for them, going to an HBCU would be an experience. one that they didn't regret and appreciated.

b. those who came from working class families from predominantly black communities and felt that going to an HBCU was a natural thing.

as an academic, i have learned that it's not really the school you attend, it's how you work it. While it is true the folks that run the big companies and the big policy wonks come from IVY league schools but just because you are a high level Veep at a non fortune 500 company doesn't mean you aren't successful.

while many find HBCU's to be lacking, there are several that are of high caliber (Hampton University, Howard University, and several others)

but here is the bigger problem my colleagues who teach at HBCU's find:

that most students who enter them are definitely not ready for college life.

Brother OMi said...

one more thing:

Mini Me sounds like she will be a successful student no matter where she goes.

I think that is a reflection of good parenting and good loving.

Props to you CBW

i wouldn't worry at all...