Since my initial collegiate semester at Prairie View A & M University concluded, I decided to return home to Stafford, Texas. Prior to returning home for Winter break, I made a conscious decision to do a variety of constructive things such as visiting my former high school to: (a) consistently exercise and (b) interact with my former high school teachers and classmates to inform them about my academic progress and experience at an Historically Black University.
Returning to my old stomping grounds provided me an opportunity to interact with former friends, invariably our interaction turned toward a discussion regarding what they should expect from the collegiate experience. When I inquired about which colleges they were applying to? I repeatedly heard the same answers: Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin, and Texas State. As a proud African-American who willing chose to attend an HBCU over predominantly white institutions, I immediately asked my Black peers why they had not applied to Prairie View A&M or any other HBCU? I never imagined that I would hear such ignorant responses.
I received a host of responses from “why would I want to go to Prairie View? It is nothing but a party school” or “I can do so much better than that place.” I thought that I could not be anymore offended than when a friend told me that “a degree from there means nothing.” However, my ire was raised even more when one of my former classmates remarked “I won’t get a good education there.” Although each of those answers are idiotic, they are also revealing. They highlight a pervasive issue that flows throughout the African-American community as freely as a raging river. That issue is the failure of African-Americans to support their own businesses, people, and ironically, their own institutions of higher learning.
It is no secret that African Americans do not utilize the financial concept of group operation and collective economics like other groups do. Most of us do not support black-owned car washes, restaurants, and auto shops with any consistency as they are perceived to be substandard to white businesses. Truth be told, the only black owned business African-Americans consistently patronize are barbershops and hair salons; although the weave that Black women are addicted to comes from non-Black hands. Incredibly, such thinking has infected even my peers who honestly have limited life experiences.
Making matters worse for me is that the misinformation that many of my former classmates hold regarding the ‘substandard education’ provided at Prairie View A & M University is so erroneous that it is laughable.
So as a proud future Alum of Prairie View A & M University, I am compelled to use this space to debunk a few of the more prominent myths surrounding HBCU’s, particularly the one that I attend.
Prairie View A&M University is not a “party school”. Let me refute this common myth, I emphatically state that Prairie View A&M is NOT a “party school”. It is a school, like any other academic institution that has droves of undergraduates, where parties occur. HBCU’s do not now, nor have they ever had a monopoly upon collegiate parties. However, HBCU’s are neither romper room nor the Las Vegas strip in this regard, they are institutions of higher education.
In regards to the notion that a degree from Prairie View means nothing, let me take this moment to share a few facts.
- Prairie View A&M University graduates have the highest starting salary of graduates from any HBCU’s.
- Prairie View is the number one school for producing African American architecture undergraduates.
- Prairie View is one of the top ten producers of African American engineers.
I’ll close by saying this to future African-American collegians, if you are going to judge an institution like Prairie View A&M, or any HBCU, please do so from an informed position. Not via rumor and the innuendo’s of naysayers who tend to vilify anything Black owned or operated. Even a surface level examination will prove that HBCU’s like Prairie View A & M University are providing a quality education comparable to any American University.
Your reliance upon the misinformation of ‘haters’ may very well cost you an opportunity to have the time of your life on an HBCU campus; trust me, I know about what I speak.
© Manhood, Race and Culture 2015