“You can always tell a Morehouse man… but you can’t tell him much!”
President Obama recited this old saying while delivering this year’s commencement speech at Morehouse College. It was a friendly jab at the reputation of its students for being rather confident and outspoken.
Or in the words of GQ magazine, Morehouse men are “douchey.” For the fourth year in a row, Morehouse ranked in the magazine’s annual, lighthearted listing of the America’s 25 Douchiest Colleges – a suburban slang term that essentially means obnoxious, pretentious, and snobby. In other words, these students and graduates have the distinction of being perceived as especially “sadity,” to use a synonymous word more common in black vernacular.
And once again this year, Morehouse was the only historically black college or university, or HBCU, included on the GQ list.
Could it be that the magazine misconstrues the pride of a Morehouse man with run-of-the-mill male obnoxiousness? Let’s examine why this might be the case.
What’s GQ’s problem with HBCU pride?
The list was mostly comprised of majority-white, large state universities and small, high-priced private institutions that were included for having arrogant rich kids, or fanatical sports fans who believe that their football team makes them more important than you. But there, amid this collection of mainstream institutions of privilege, was Morehouse, which was branded as “douchey” for having students that are well-dressed, fraternity types who love materialistic hip-hop and militant black activism equally.
But as any HBCU graduate will tell you – and as a Hampton University graduate, I’m speaking from experience here – we are proud, and proud of our schools at levels that would put those on the GQ list to shame. There is simply nothing like the brazen pride of an HBCU graduate.
When graduates of those GQ schools begin rambling about their football team, we’ll kindly remind them that the halftime show is the real reason to come to the game. Then we’ll chuckle as our marching band breaks it all the way down and turns the stadium into a block party, while theirs tepidly play some catchy tunes.
HBCUs: As snobby as the best of them
And when their students from elite backgrounds brag about their membership in country clubs, the HBCU graduate will show them how his black alumni network provides more nationwide connections than they could ever dream of. (And, yes, he’ll do it while completely clad head-to-toe in a fraternity outfit.)
HBCUs can exercise conservative, traditional values in ways that would put the most exclusive private schools to shame. They ban inappropriate dancing, unacceptable hairstyles and attire, and can have limited visiting hours for socializing with the opposite sex.