Why I’m Leaving my HBCU, part 2: “All the Blacks are Men”

This is about black conservatism. Black conservatism ultimately privileging black masculinity as the only construct in need of protection. Because, under its tenets, once black maleness is protected then everything else falls in line. Need to protect black womanhood? Protect black manhood. Need to protect our children? Protect black manhood. Need to save the trees in the hood? Protect black men. The water in Flint? You know they’re just trying to get to the black man right?

Everybody else? Everyone else’s experiences? Merely the system’s collateral damage to get to the black man.

The last straw for me was on campus a few weeks ago when I saw a poster board celebrating that a black male was president at all levels of the student government. From freshman class president to the president of the graduate student body. It was advertising a whole story placed on the school website about how this “historic election” was “changing stereotypes about black men”. And then I came across the article, which starts off like this: “For decades black men have been subjected to unfair and untrue stereotypes. Now in a historic election during the 2016-2017 academic year, which propelled six black male students to the presidency at every level of the Student Government Association… is helping debunk negative stereotypes. This significant accomplishment is shining a light on black men… for their innovation, education, work ethic, and polished appearance. There are qualities many have always known black men possess, yet some choose to ignore.”


Then I find out, my school has a newly started black male initiative. Essentially, faculty, staff, and students go out to churches in the area trying to convince members of the community to send their black male kids to this overpriced university when the state school is right down the street and their students aren’t starving to death trying to print for class… but I digress. The male:female ratio here is 30:70, which is what apparently sparked the need for this. A few weeks ago, an administrator at the university speaking at one of these churches said something to this effect: “We’re always loving on our black sisters, it’s about time we show our black brothers some love”. In the words of one of my favorite women in life right now: “Well if this is what love looks like, I don’t wanna see what abuse is”.

WHY. In 2017, are we still playing black women as competition to black men? Why on my HBCU campus am I being told that I need to step aside and let somebody else win? Is there a reason why your masculinity still feels threatened by the mere presence of me? Literally, I could have gone to a PWI for such a denial of my personhood.

And please. Don’t get me started on how administration wishes to enact dress codes for all students. Including grown ass grad students with kids and grandkids. Then there was the installation of our university president: the women were instructed to wear skirts and dresses with stockings. Stockings in Atlanta in the middle of the summering months. No, there wasn’t a simple pants option in case you were wondering.

The issue is this: If the school spent less time being occupied with the APPEARANCE of being great, it could actually focus on being great in real life.



Suggested Reading:

Article: “Black Male exceptionalism? The problems and potential of Black male focused interventions.” – Paul D. Butler

Next post: A university not equipped to equip me. (Part 3 of 4)


6 thoughts on “Why I’m Leaving my HBCU, part 2: “All the Blacks are Men”

  1. This resonated so hard for me. It brought me back to a conference I went to at Teacher’s College. The conference theme was “Hoodies Up” to address violence against black lives and what we can do on micro and macro levels in the field. The closing keynote speakers were prominent black male psychologists who have been prolific in the field of black psychology (virtually launching it), addressing racism, and racial identity. So it was quite a big deal that they were there and were very inspiring..
    But the second speaker began to irritate me because when Q&A came, and the audience started asking about what to do when working with families, students (school and college-aged), specific people (incl. women) and what resources might be helpful, he ONLY mentioned boys and men. A question was even asked directly about what about women… what can be done there? And he, again shifted to men by saying women need to play the role of support.. and try to find the boys good mentors (because apparently black women wouldn’t suffice). He continued to insist that men and boys need greater attention. That they were the ones being left behind, neglected, not uplifted, attended to or encouraged; they are the ones being harassed, violated, and slain by the police… and they are the ones who are less likely to be successful. They right now are the only prey [and (unspoken subtext) black women are being left alone to live their lives freely?] :: Side eye :: So in addition to what we as women and girls are already doing, to take care of black boys and men, it’s not enough. And no one is thinking of how to take care of us BUT us. Apparently, we need to spend all of our resources (including the ones often spent on women and girls) on saving the black boys and men who believe they are the only endangered subspecies. Because the women are aiight (though we’re not, and that rhetoric that black men are at a greater or soliatry threat pisses me off) and we apparently don’t need resources, cuz ‘we good’.. and apparently that ‘good’ we are is inherent for us? Black men neglect us and don’t attend to how we experience in the world, so naturally, it is assumed that we are invisible to the others, too? It feels like shit and is angering to be repeatedly invalidated and essentially ignored by the one group that should serve as our biggest allies and foundation… and to especially be getting that from the ones with power and sway. Spewing the rhetoric that Black MALES Matter. We can’t rely on other women (who are not of color) and we can’t rely on our men. No woman’s land.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Precisely that. It’s this very thing that my future research is based on. I did interviews with undergrads during my MA program and when t was all said and done what I found was nothing I was looking for. But it was as if the black women students were settling. Just making do with the cards dealt and also practicing to feel like the challenges they faced on campus were just a part of life. Even the males in dire straights seemed more optimistic about their campus experience and I was never able to let that go.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Wow a powerful story sister. That rhetoric those men spewed is distorted and shortsighted and that’s putting it LIGHTLY. The fact that a professional who im should see issues behind a male perspective can’t answer simple questions to resolve issues in our communities troubles me. As leaders in our respective fields we should always have answers that are inclusive. Clearly these brothers had an agenda: ladies stand by your brother. But we are a race that came from a chattel slavery system which evolved into sharecroppers and community that was tired of being classified as second class citizens. As apart of our racial upliftment, women, children, and men all had to fight to get us the justice we have sought for generations. We have to do better and that didn’t cut it for me.


  2. I’m excited about you doing that work. It needs to be done! I’d be happy to help however I can. 🙂 I’m in the middle of dissertation now [as can be seen on my twitter pg lol] so I know the struggle.

    Liked by 1 person

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