I just found out about this through http://twitter.com/skepblogs which sent me to this.

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Opportunity is the key question here. Then there's "historically" as compared to now. As for the nature of the milieu itself, at least both sides of the question are given space. This particular observation, however, strikes me as kinda stupid:

But the best quote I found came from a magazine, not a blog. George E. Curry wrote last year in the Chicago Defender,
Do we still need Historically Black Colleges and Universities? It's a question that even some Blacks are asking. Interestingly, those same people never ask whether Catholics still need Notre Dame or whether women still need Wellesley College?

Actually, those other questions should be asked as well.
My son graduated Morehouse. Would I send him again? In a heartbeat, it was well worth working the equivalent of two jobs for four years! The freedom of not being judged by the color of his skin, the ability to meet other Black men from the families of the 'talented tenth' was priceless. The friends and connections he made, he could not have made in any other college. 12 years later, these men have accomplished so much and they are still firm friends. Yes, they are STILL necessary...and even if they were not, as Ralph stated so well, no one questions catholic colleges or any other subset of specialty colleges, why target HBCUs?
George Curry stated this, not me. The continued existence of Catholic brainwashing institutions should indeed be questioned. And since women's colleges originally were designed, I believe, with elites only in mind, perhaps they should be questioned as well, unless they've substantially changed their priorities. But it all boils down to opportunity. What ever it takes to get the opportunities you need is necessary and useful, and since we still don't have equality, then the remnants of a Jim Crow system of higher education still serve a function.

However, opinion is divided on the desirability of sending one's children to an HBCU. The social atmosphere, which may be a plus for some, would be a nightmare for others. I think that social segregation is inherently bad--perhaps the integration of some of these HBCU's would mitigate conformity somewhat.

But again, whatever it takes to get to where you need to go . . .
This view is hardly rare. You emphasize the practical disadvantage of self-segregation. The social climate of black colleges, from what I hear, also foster existential disadvantages, not least of all for atheists. We have yet to see this side of things presented in popular culture; instead we get bullshit dished out by Bill Cosby or Spike Lee.
I am Hispanic and took all my classes for my teaching degree at a historicaly black university near my house. The one thing that stood out for me here opposed to the other colleges I've been to is the amount of religion, Christianity to be specific. I was even asked by the associate Dean if I was a Christian. When I answered no, he looked flabbergasted. He didn't ask a follow up and I didn't volunteer. I needed his recommendation and something told me that had I said I was an atheist, my recommendation would have never happened. I never felt out of place because of how I looked, but I did feel very out of place for what I thought.
It's important for students, especially African American students, to become more international both in practice and in academic understanding. By socializing and studying with people from various backgrounds, we're exposed to more ideas from different frames of reference. That gives us much to draw from when problem-solving and theorizing in our adult lives. My understanding of women's rights in the Middle East, for example, would not have been deep if I hadn't befriended Muslim students (because no feminist can succeed agenda-wise if in deep conflict with Islamic understanding) and friends from that part of the world. How can we engage in such a multi-dimensional, multi-cultural world if we're only living, breathing and learning within the boundaries of ONE culture for fear of painful exposure to racism?

It's akin to raising kids in a sterile box. The world as we know it is filled with all sorts of icky sticky germs and viruses, and constantly wiping down your child's toys with Clorox wipes for juuuust a bit longer isn't going to prepare them for life at ALL.

And besides, the real world does not look like Hampton. Or Spelman. Or Morehouse.
Does anybody think HBCUs benefit society in general and people of other races?
Can they play a role in reducing racial bigotry and self segregation?
What if there were no racial discrimination in education, could HBCUs still be useful?
Of course HBCUs benefit society, and more importantly they benefit students, esp. for those who have fewer opportunities elsewhere. The key still is opportunity; whether they play the role some of them once played in preparation for the civil rights movement, I wouldn't venture to guess but suspect not so much. There will be no racial discrimination in education when there is no discrimination elsewhere; or perhaps this should be put a different way: as long as there are disparities in society at large, and as long as society as whole is not integrated, there will be need for such institutions, whether or not that is ideally the case. Whatever it takes to increase opportunity, that's what's needed. I think ultimately that segregation is undesirable, but then the onus for integration is on white society--which doesn't mean you or you or you as an individual--it means social institutions.
You're right Kole, HBCUs dont help with reducing social bigotry and are just another form of segregation that can only lead to more bigotry.

Sadly, in Toronto, they have just opened up an Africentric School with all the right intentions but no sense whatsoever. The thing is that people feel they are righting a wrong by opening these pointless places of education that dont know the first thing about being progressive.
Afrocentric is not synonymous with HBCU. Afrocentric is crackpot cultural nationalism.
As an Alumnus of a HBCU (NC A&T), I am biased, I must admit this upfront. If I had the chance, I would not hesitate to attend again. I do not see it as self-isolation but as opportunity. HBCUs are the remnant of the United States Segregationist past, but these colleges give opportunities to students who may not have the opportunity to attend the Carolinas, the Wake Forest, or the Dukes, they just need an opportunity. I can go any where in the world and if there's an Aggie there, it is like meeting family. Also, my college is becoming more diverse, it is more diverse than those non-HBCU I mentioned above. We may be entering a post-race society but I wonder if the opportunity will be there regardless of race. Jag, it is not a form of segregation that leads to more bigotry, it is just what everyone wants, an opportunity.

Black Socrates
K. Reverie,

I was born and raised in North Carolina. When I was in the 1st grade in a rural public school system, the first grade teacher who was a remnant of the segregated school system, (which did not end segregation until 1970 in the county I lived) put all of the children of color in remedial reading and all the Caucasian kids in normal reading (we were not tested), I felt marginalized at an early age, plus growing up in a Pentecostal Holiness home (my mother and father were ministers) being told that Jesus was coming any day did not help me prepare for the future (take no thought for tomorrow, what you shall eat or drink, etc...). I was a good student, I occasionally made the honor roll , but I did not develop good studying skills or do that well on the SAT. I applied to various colleges, but my Alma mater gave me an opportunity, I was the first in my family to attend college besides another cousin. I graduated within four years, cum laude, the tuition affordable (thank goodness for the Pell grant), and the class sizes were right for me, the instructors gave me and other students heart felt advise that I cherish to this day ( I remember a professor stopping class after a test and telling us we can't produce half-@ss work and think we are going to get a job or compete with other people applying from the non-HBCU institutions, a teacher had never told me that before). I developed a love for learning, and this lead me to critical thinking and why I am a freethinker today. This is what I meant by opportunity.

Black Socrates




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