As a kid, The Cosby Show used to be my addiction. Each week I anticipated seeing that family on TV who resembled my family and other families I knew. I was in awe of the story lines, Denise Huxtable's fashion choices, and the positive perception the show gave off. I remember my mother scolding me about something and I bravely stood up and said to my mother, "Clair Huxtable wouldn't talk to her children like that." Yea, I was hypnotized by the show. Therefore you can imagine my excitement when Denise went off to college and A Different World was born. I thought I had died and gone to television heaven.
After witnessing the characters on A Different world, their colorful and stylish clothes, their hairstyles, the activities they were involved in, and how proud they were; I made up my mind at a young age that Hillman College was my school of choice. It wasn't until later that my dreams were deferred when I discovered that Hillman only existed in the black box that sits on the wooden stand in our house. "What? Hillman isn't for real Moma?" I was disappointed.
My disappointment didn't last long because I was later introduced to real Historically Black Colleges/Universities, and my dream came alive again. My mother would take my brother and I to college Greek shows and football games so that we could see what campus life was actually like. We were both amazed, and we committed to HBCUs. When I actually attended an HBCU, I developed a deeper perspective of why they are so essential and wonderful. Below are five reasons why I love HBCUs.
1. The Culture - The atmosphere feels like your old neighborhood or high school. You actually feel like you're apart of a family when attending an HBCU. You are the majority, and you fit in everywhere you go. You don't have to be quiet in a classroom because you feel that your opinions don't matter. You can be yourself. There are no funny stares from people, no one clutches their purse, or moves to the far side of the campus because you are walking by. It's home, and that is the vibe you get.
2. The People - While attending an HBCU, you get the chance to interact with tons of people from all over the world that look just like you! Almost everyone at an HBCU has similar backgrounds, similar goals, and similar struggles so it is easier to relate to your peers. You feel like an accomplishment on your part is an accomplishment for the entire college/university.
3. The History - Every HBCU has a story behind its doors. Either it's a college/university where a sorority or fraternity was first established, or it's a college/university that educated profound leaders like Thurgood Marshall or talents like Erykah Badu (shout out to Howard and Grambling!).
4. The Education - The education you receive at an HBCU is priceless. When I took my first film course at Howard University, I learned so much about African American filmmakers that I never knew! A friend from Nigeria once said to me that he learned more about Africa at Howard than he did from living there. Amazing huh?!
5. Life Lessons - HBCUs tend to prepare students for life. On most of our campuses, we aren't blessed with state-of-the-art facilities and the latest technology. We have to make lemonade out of lemons sometimes. We have to work harder than the students at other schools to be noticed and to receive the accolades we deserve. When we graduate and go out into the real world, we are equipped and ready to put our best foot forward, and we do what we need to do to get what we need to have. HBCU students are not only prepared for jobs - we are prepared for life.
I'm proud to say that I am a HBCU Graduate (Grambling State University '03 and Howard University '06), and I thoroughly represent it through my actions, accomplishments, and perseverance. Check out my HBCU Grad tee below that I purchased from HBCUGRADshirts.com (they have other cool shirts as well). You all know I love a good t-shirt, especially one that states the truth.
Have an extremely awesome week everyone. Put your game face on and slam dunk anything that comes your way like my boy LeBron James and the Cavs!!! Go Cleveland!!!
- Samjah Iman