Are Whites Taking Over Historically Black Colleges?

| Thu May 22, 2008 2:35 PM EDT

Morehouse, flagship of HBCUs and Dr. King's alma mater, graduated its first white valedictorian this year, Joshua Packwood. Homey, and he is officially that now, is a Rhodes Scholar who turned down an Ivy League scholarship for Atlanta and earned a perfect 4.0. Weird, huh? How did Stewart and Colbert miss this? I'd love to see Larry Wilmore 'interview' this guy.

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I first became aware of the seemingly strange presence of whites at HBCUs about a decade ago but have yet to get a chance to dig into it. Turns out that there are some that, due to demographic changes over the century and a half since most were founded, are now white enough to bring their very designation into question: "there are institutions that are classified as HBCUs with White enrollments above 80% of the student population (e.g., Bluefield State University, West Virginia 88.8% and West Virginia State University 83.2%)". Ten percent of the HBCU population, over all, is now white.

It's fascinating and confusing with serious danger for knees, including my own, to start jerking furiously. It's all I can do not to wail, "Can't we please have something that's just ours? Please?" But I know that's the wrong attitude. Still, I hope they stop making all those Drum Line movies.

Some, of course, don't want whites at HBCUs and must break out in hives when they pass their school's minority affairs office which helps whites navigate their majority black college world. The lawsuits which allowed the white students in in the first place have not quite been forgotten yet either. White students are lured with scholarships and by the $10K annual tuition savings, on average, between HBCUs and other state schools, which some find troubling. And shouldn't the scholarships be going to poor minority kids instead of to high achieving whites who help raise the school's stats? OK, all right. HBCUs have to think of both.

Is it just me, or does the world get weirder everyday? Still, this does present a rare opportunity for blacks to experience the loss of one of the few tiny areas of privilege we had. No wonder some of y'all behave so badly the better Barack does. Giving up stuff sucks.