From Black Voices — I remember going on a campus tour of Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, as a bright eyed, inquisitive 18-year-old girl in 1998. As I listened to the tour guide extol the virtues of attending the prestigious institution, the calls of young men and women cheering excitedly caught my attention.
Gazing past beautiful trees and outstanding architectural structures, I saw the young men of Clark-Atlanta University’s Omega Psi Phi chapter stepping passionately, while throngs of students – many with dreadlocks, some wearing African dashikis, all smiling and grooving – looked on with pride and a palpable sense of community.
It was then I realized that I was giving up my childhood dream of the Ivy League for the Ebony League. I was home.
However, based on a 2009 report by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund – an organization that provides scholarships and resources to almost half of the nation’s 105 Historically Black Colleges and Universities – the proportion of Asian,Hispanic, and multi-ethnic students enrolled in HBCUs has jumped from 6% to 8% from 1986 to 2006.
In short: ‘Home’ is undergoing a drastic renovation.
While many white and multi-ethnic students have a wide array of reasons for enrolling in an HBCU – ranging from more career opportunities upon graduation to a desire to experience a more diverse, holistic, educational experience – there is still an innate, often justified, hesitation felt by many members of the African-American community to embrace this trend.
A study done by Dr. Ivory A. Toldson and Aviella Snitman revealed that problems related to discrepancies between education and attainment depend on two key factors: (a) higher paying occupations are more commonly held among White people, even when controlling for education; and (b) the lack of education increases the chances that a Black person will be unemployed or live in poverty.
As a result, an African-American person with some college has a greater chance of living in poverty than a White person who did not complete high school. Similarly, White people with master’s degrees are more likely to live above middle class than Black people with doctorate degrees.