6 Things You Can Do To Support Black Kids Who Are Attending A PWI
Being black ain't easy at a PWI!
September 11, 2017 at 3:02 pm
Let's face it, all of our baby cousins will not go to an HBCU. Some of them will attend a PWI (predominantly white institution). As a result, they may be subject to overt racism. Gone are the days where white students wanted to keep their racism to themselves. Charlottesville is my case and point. White folks are out here with their tears and torches. Gone are the good ol' days when our white co-eds would just deny you access to their study groups "because you didn't go to a good high school."
Here is a list of things you can do to support your black brother, sister or cousin (play or real) while they are attending a PWI.
1. Send a Care Package (Hold the Cookies)
If you are like me, you don't always have the time to pack a box of Better Made Chips, Faygo and half a caramel cake wrapped in saran wrap, and then foil, for freshness. When I send care packages, I use the Strange Roots Box Co. It is the perfect way to send a box of black owned goodies to your student who may be living in an area which is lacking in black-owned options. Each box ($29.99 a month with different subscription options) has different black created items which will allow a student to maintain their melanin content. Examples are shea butter, hot sauces (that are hot, not sour), room diffusers and a piece of black literature to nourish their brains, as well.
2. Roll Through
Believe it or not, all college students have that moment of homesickness. It presents itself differently for everyone, and no one wants it to negatively affect their academics. That is why you have to visit. Pack everyone you can in the car—mom, dad, uncle, auntie, cousin—and just roll up in the loudest, blackest way possible. Eat on campus at their buffet style cafeteria, and complain about the lack of salt. Assert your presence on that campus and show the world black students have a place in PWIs as any other white student. Remind everyone how unbreakable and dynamic these new black families are, and how we will support the goals of our students. They may be embarrassed that a quarter of the family came up to campus in a Cutlass, but in hindsight, they will appreciate that you cared enough to show up.
College students don't call anyone. Don't take it personally. Just break down the barrier and call them, and call again, and again. And when you get them on the phone don't spend 20 minutes complaining about how they never answer the phone. If you can't roll through, a phone call on a random time during your lunch break is the best way to show someone they are loved.
4. Send Money
5. Share Tales of Failure
Thankfully, the tale of the first person in the black family who went to college is diminishing as black women continue to be the most educated demographic in the nation. However, no one has any success without a marked amount of failure. From the outside looking up, it may appear that you graduated without pain or effort. After all, your Instagram was lit for four and a half years. But all of us who have some success know there are five million embarrassing moments wrapped in the color of failure we want no one to know about. Sharing your truth about failure will not embarrass you, but has the potential to keep someone else from making the same mistake.
6. Have the Talk
A lot of college campuses have deputized police departments to police the campus. These police officers are often new to their careers and lack diversity training (not that it makes a huge difference). Tell your cousins and god-brothers that they will see white students cursing at police officers and setting things on fire when the team loses. That is not our ministry. So encourage them to stay away from post championship riots and white thugs who decide to take on the police.
Then, tell them about Takiyah Thompson, who was arrested swiftly in the mixed race group effort of pulling down some Confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina while Deandre Harris' attackers do not even have arrest warrants on their faces. Tell them when they protest in a peaceful and organized way, it will be called a riot.
Remind them that no white person, not even your white African-American history professor, can ever be an expert on black pain.
Tell them to watch what they post on social media. They will be judged for life. Remind them police and black people do not have the type of relationship where we can interact and live to talk about it. So encourage them to stay away from post-championship riots and white thugs who decide take on the police.
Then tell them the most important thing: Formal post secondary education is one of the most important tools black people have used to infiltrate whiteness. There are no amount of degrees that can erase your blackness. There is no speech eloquent enough to decrease your melanin. Remind them that they are to take that PWI for all it's worth to make them into the type of person they want to be, and never the other way around.