In a recent interview with Uptown Magazine, Taraji P. Henson discusses why she decided to send her son to Howard University, a Historically Black University and her alma mater, after being racially profiled at the University of Southern California. Naturally these remarks stirred a debate of whether Black students are safer at HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities i.e. Xavier, Howard, Spelman, Morehouse, etc. ) or PWIs (Predominantly White Institutions, i.e. USC, Yale, Stanford, NYU, etc.).
In my opinion, the debate about students of color being safer at an HBCU or a PWI is not a worthy debate. The discussion should center on whether students (of color) are safe on or off campus, regardless of the student body’s demographic makeup. Higher education institutions should value their student’s safety regardless of race, but it has happened again and again, that these institutions find the need to revise the laws as an attempt to quell controversy and calm the hearts of horrified parents.
Especially with the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and most recently with Martese Johnson being brutalized and arrested by police, the safety of students on college campuses is on the forefront of everyone’s minds. If anything, these situations will reinforce the need to make sure that all students are ensured of their safety while in class and hanging out with their friends in their college towns; particularly in light of righteous concerns about police brutality. For instance, students at UVa are now protesting to restrict ABC officers to arrest people and the Governor has made an executive order to retrain all officers.
USC responded recently stating their concern for a student having to deal with racial profiling on their campus, since Taraji’s comments have stirred so much conversation.
Taraji even responded recently to critics on Twitter:
I really don’t care what ppl think about what I do with MY LIFE AND ALL INVOLVED WITH ME!!!!! Give it a rest. ✌️
— Taraji P. Henson (@TherealTaraji) March 23, 2015
Howard University has yet to comment.