You’re early to your eight a.m. college class, signaling that it's either the first day of school, or you took one of those super necessary afternoon naps the day before. You sit in the black and you start to see students shuffling in with their coffee and laptops. One kid enters with his music blaring unnecessarily loud, a group of girls walk in discussing their summer break and that one student that's always lost walks in and realizes he’s in the wrong class. Finally, the professor steps in and the door closes. You look around and slightly sink in your seat, suddenly realizing you’re the only black student.This is a common experience at most PWIs, and I know how it feels. Although I have been quite fortunate to have at least three other black students with me, there was still a sense of, "Is this all of us?" Black Student Unions, African Student Unions and all other diasporic unity groups help to relieve that feeling, but can never really substitute simply having people that look like you in your classroom.
At times, I wish I had continued trying to pursue Morehouse College, but the cost of attending was not something I could afford. The aid package was not horrific, but it was still not the best and I wasn't given a scholarship to help offset costs. But I believe these things can change for future potential HBCU students.
If the HBCU alumni gave back a little bit more to the institutions they love (maybe $10, $15 or $20 dollars a month), this could probably result in helping current and future students. My other suggestion would be that businesses and people who lease the schools' likeness for apparel could give at least 10 to 15 percent of their proceeds to the respective schools. If you’re making money off the North Carolina A&T State University logo, then the school should definitely be getting a percentage.
My last suggestion is investing in the HBCU students' creativity and skills. There are many students on these campuses who are incredibly resourceful and extremely talented. Some of them do hair, some give haircuts and others create apparel. HBCUs could give promos to support these endeavors or, if possible, do what other universities have done and open up a barbershop and salon on campus so that the money made from their business can be split between the college and them. This will enable more aid and scholarships for the students.
I, like many black students out there, would love to have attended an HBCU, but financially, it was not feasible. Fortunately it is a new day and we can all start looking for solutions. Maybe our children will have a better shot than us. It is not an easy fix and it will not be done tomorrow, but surely, one day!