If you hang with enough Trumpers and discuss race, they’ll be sure to mention the presumed double standard as it relates to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
“Why are there Black colleges but not White colleges,” they’ll ask.
Answer: Because all of the non-Black colleges ARE White colleges. Nearly every advanced educational institution in America, sans Black colleges, is predominately White.
And no, Black colleges don’t discriminate. Every higher-learning institution university accepts – and must lawfully accept – applicants of all races.
And in case you’re wondering, non-Black students, even Whites, enroll, attend and thrive at predominately Black colleges and universities.
Question: So, if HBCUs aren’t racist how did they become overwhelmingly Black?
Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) were founded shortly after slavery ended and are mostly concentrated in the Southern United States where anti-Black racism was, and still is, most prevalent.
Following the end of slavery in 1863, the majority of institutions of higher education predominantly served White students and disqualified or limited Black enrollment solely based on race. And that phenomenon lasted for 100 years.
As a result, Blacks, following the end of slavery, were forced to create their own schools of higher education, and the legacies of those institutions live on today.
Just as Harvard (est 1636), Yale (est 1701), and Columbia Unversity (est 1854) are woven into the fabric of American institutions of higher learning, so too are HBCUs such as Howard University (est 1867) and Morehouse University (1867).
The Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, but by the time it was enacted in 1964 HBCUs were thriving institutions with long legacies and achievements. In fact, they were integral in establishing and expanding the Black middle class in the years and decades following the end of slavery.
So while overall college admittance is more equal today, HBCUs remain as they’ve established themselves as proven institutions of higher learning. And with their more affordable tuition rates, HBCUs serve as strong options for students – of all races – who can’t afford predominately White colleges and universities.
Moreover, they are far more diverse than most think.
Fact: Some historically black colleges and universities now have non-black majorities.
Racial diversity at HBCUs, 2016–2017 school year
|College name||Blacks %||Non-Blacks %|
|Bluefield State College||8||92|
|West Virginia State University||8||92|
|Kentucky State University||46||54|
|Delaware State University||64||36|
|Lincoln University (Pennsylvania)||84||16|
|University of the District of Columbia||59||41|
|Elizabeth City State University||76||24|
|Fayetteville State University||60||49|
|Winston-Salem State University||71||29|
|Xavier University of Louisiana||70||30|
|North Carolina A&T State University||80||20|
Per the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), non-Black students comprised 24 percent of enrollment at HBCUs in 2020.
Question: OK, so a lot of non-Blacks attend HBCUs but that doesn’t necessarily mean Whites are welcomed right?
In 2017, 17 percent of students attending HBCUs were White, according to a report by Pew Research Center. That’s 1 in 6 students.
An HBCU white male graduate recently commented on Quora:
“The funniest thing happened my first day in class. I had to have a class and the only time it was offered was 8 am on Saturdays. I took a seat on the front row on the far side of the room.”
“After class started, the professor goes around the room asking each student who they were, where they were from, and what their goals were. He came to me last.”
“He said, ‘“Mr. Scott, don’t miss a day of class or we’ll notice”.’
“I was the only white person in class. Absolutely everyone, including myself, fell out laughing. It was hilarious. I can only remember one or two classes where there was another white person besides me. I never felt out of place, only welcomed.”
HBCUs are not racist but were created as a result of America’s hardcore anti-Black racism following the end of slavery. Moreover, the facts prove they are not segregationist and their existence clearly represents no double standard.
(Main image courtesy of UNCF)