NYT: ‘Why I Chose A Historically Black College’

Photo credit: The New York Times
New York Times writer Skylar Mitchell takes aim at historically black colleges relevancy in today’s society in an op-ed titled “Why I Chose a Historically Black College.”

From Mitchell’s editorial:

“A black school? But you’re so smart, you could go anywhere.”

That was the reaction I got when U told some high school friends that I would attend Spelman, a historically black women’s college in Atlanta. I know they thought they were complimenting me.

At first, I tried to justify my decision, pointing to the college’s notable alumnae and research opportunities. But the fact that Spelman is the nation’s top-ranked historically black college was lost on them. I couldn’t make my peers understand the experience of a black student in an overwhelmingly white school. I couldn’t convey the significance of historically black colleges and universities.

I wasn’t interested in Spelman when I first visited. I was in the eight grade and my heart was set on the Northeast Ivies. I knew I wanted extensive study-abroad options, a core curriculum, and at least a 10 percent black student population. That last item was nonnegotiable.

Being one of the few black kids in my school was all I’d ever known before college. Having my hair teasingly prodded during recess or being called “oreo” felt normal. From 7 a.m. until 4 p.m., I learned to excuse small indignities, and I used humor as a defense mechanism. When I got home, I could finally vent to the few other people who understood. My mother was very clear: “Don’t let anyone touch your hair and you better not let them call you outside of your name.

Read the entire story here.