Stop the HBCU Vs. PWI Debate: Root for Everybody Black

At least once per week in the world of [Black] twitter a new argument is added to the HBCU Vs. PWI debate.



This typically manifests in the following forms: 

1) a PWI student “throwing shade” at HBCUs and HBCU students and alum about their decision to attend the HBCU instead of a PWI.


2)  An HBCU student asserting why the HBCU experience is superior to that at PWIs.

Both arguments are irrelevant and should be stopped in their tracks for several reasons, a few of which I will highlight here:

Higher education (the system in which both HBCUs and PWIs are situated) was never intended for Black people, period. 

  • Both HBCUs and PWIs are institutions of higher education.
  • Both HBCUs and PWIs have both challenges and strengths (i.e. financial aid and funding at HBCUs and diversity and equity at PWIs).
  • Both HBCUs and PWIs have issues of equity and work to address them using the resources they have or don’t have (mostly the latter).
  • Both HBCUs and PWis (institutions of higher education)  have successfully educated Black people.
  • Black people are descendants of the same group of people who were flogged and in many cases killed for reading and trying to learn. (See Roots or any other slave film if you need a visual).
  • Black people (who attend all institution types) are now recipients of PhDs, medical degrees, JDs, master’s degrees, are entrepreneurs and are playing significant roles in transforming the same academy that worked so hard to keep Black people and other marginalized groups out.

When it comes to the ways educated Black people engage with the HBCU vs. PWI debate, it’s simple: they shouldn’t.  Instead, they should make themselves aware of the history of higher education, stop comparing these qualitatively different experiences, and acknowledge the opportunities and access they have to occupy the space denied to their ancestors for so long.

Educated Black people should be too busy trying to create change in whatever space they have access, lifting as they climb, ensuring that outcomes for our people only continue to improve.

 A tweet is intellectual property (especially when they go viral). The time it takes to write a tweet denigrating where someone chose to study becoming a better version of themselves, could be used to encourage and challenge them to be even better for the culture.

At the end of the day, historically, your ancestors weren’t wanted in higher education period as the system was intended for White males and regardless, you’re here. 


Therefore, when it comes to the HBCU Vs. PWI debate (and all other debates within the Black community), stop engaging in that. Root for everybody Black. 


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