The One Peril of Attending An HBCU

By

The Cool One

The Cool One, I am. Why? Well, let me think. I am pretty laid-back and I know and am well-liked by a bunch of people. By my definition and most of America’s, that makes you somewhat cool.

However, the latter part of that is where I’ve been having an issue: knowing a bunch of people. How could this be something wrong, you ask? Well, in 2012, I’m realizing how small the world is and as a twenty-something who is single, I realize that this small world is full of beautiful women with attachments.

These attachments are exes or friends or friends of exes, and I seem to be in many circles, one of the connectors.

This leads me to my overarching point. As much as I LOVE HBCUs, I realize there is one huge hindrance to attending one: you tend to know everyone’s business.

Let me repeat this. You tend to know EVERYONE’s business.

Now everyone say hi to this elephant I just introduced to you. Yep, the one in the corner. You’ve attended an HBCU and have said “There are no good (wo)men around,” but never realized the contradiction that it was. You raved in undergrad about how bad the chicks were at your school, but when someone asked did you have a significant other, you said “Nah. I am good on them.”

Now I’m not saying that you have to date within your race, but if you were to, your alma mater would be the first place you’d think of. At least this is what you thought when you set foot on campus during Freshman Orientation.

Wrong.

And why do I say this? (You like how I ask rhetorical questions then swiftly give you the answers, don’t you? See…did it again!) Because we have become inundated with the culture of our institutions and even after graduating, we are STUCK in that undergrad state of mind.

This hit me my senior year. I was in Miami for Spring Break (also known as the HBCU De Facto Vacation) and one of my boys from Hampton said to me, “I gotta meet some of your homegirls.” I responded, “Cool. You can have them. I need to get up on some Hampton chicks.” And right there, we completely wrote off the girls we went to school with in search of something new. And it is STILL this way.

See, when I meet a girl from, say, Hampton, I didn’t see her holding hands with that one guy, then kiss another guy the following month…or wasn’t involved in the gossip about her trying to pledge. All the stuff that REALLY doesn’t matter, but it warps the way you look at someone.

I sat back and looked at some girls I went to college with recently and was in awe. Gorgeous, intelligent women with degrees. And then I thought, “Well, she used to talk to my man. And she smashed my neophyte. Man, I remember when she was drunk at tailgate, talking reckless.” Once again, in the scheme of things, these don’t matter.

The reason I single-out HBCUs is because when I hear my friends from PWIs discuss undergrad, they don’t have the same inundated feel. They say “Oh he used to date my friend” or “She’s cool. She’s the class below me.” Whoever they dated seems like more of a wash once they graduate. And that is mostly because their Black population wasn’t the entire school.

See at HBCUs, we literally ran our schools. The most popular Black kid was the most popular kid period, not because of sports, etc. Greeks and SGA officials are like Division I athletes at BCS schools.

I mention popularity because its key to this mindset. This becomes what my boy, a Howard alum, and I have discussed as “The Inverted Pyramid”. See, according to him, at an HBCU, it’s the same 50-100 chicks that everyone is after. You got your sorority girls, cheerleaders, dance team and/or popular non-Greek girls. Everybody is chasing after the same crew of girls. The same goes for guys: fraternities, athletes, heads of extracurricular organizations, and promoters (depending on the campus).

Once you graduate, that Inverted Pyramid remains but manifests itself differently. You realize the girl you dated in college isn’t really who you like anymore. There’s this other girl you just met and you like her, but she’s line sisters with your ex or her best friend is your ex’s prophyte. Damn Gina.

Or this new guy you are feeling in Chicago was on the same floor in your ex-boyfriend’s neo’s dorm. Damn!

And then you find that one chick no one even knows went to your school, but she may not be feeling you, because you spent four years chasing other chicks and feels like she won’t be sloppy seconds. Or she was the silent member of the crew of chicks you hollered at in college, but never met her. MAN!

So you beg your friends to introduce you to some more chicks from other schools and you check the HoeFax, but you don’t feel as comfortable, because this HoeFax report is missing the details you would’ve gotten if you went to undergrad with her. And you worry that she won’t get your friends, because you all have a different vibe about you that you’d have to have gone to school with them to know. She doesn’t get Aggie Pride or what it is to be a Rattler. She has no idea about the AUC or the Bayou Classic.

Or if she does and went to another HBCU, you fear the Homecoming Walk of Shame. You fear that you bring this girl to Homecoming and just ONE person has something to say that wasn’t on your HoeFax report.

HOW DID I MISS THIS LINE ITEM? WHERE’S THE MISSING PAGE? DO I GET A REFUND? DAMN YOU, HOEFAX.

You feel like eyes are staring at you as you walk on the yard for Homecoming. You hear the whispers in your head. Does she match up to your ex? Is she badder than the chicks you smashed sophomore year? Will she hear about that party where you…well, you know what you did…and be turned off? Will she understand what its like to be Greek at an HBCU and if she does, will she automatically think you’re the stereotype? Will she get your college crew?

Do you feel vain for thinking these things? You shouldn’t. Sadly, that’s what much of our social culture was based on. Many times I felt it was far better for people that went to PWIs or other HBCUs than my own to date people I went to school with, because they could just come in and holla without any judgment or preconceived notions.

However, I’ve realized the flaws in the Matrix and ways to correct this.

We are conditioned to believe in this Inverted Pyramid and many of us cannot leave our undergrad dynamic alone. I have a friend whose husband didn’t go to an HBCU and he can’t stand when her friends come around because they ONLY talk about undergrad.

See the thing about undergrad is…that it’s OVER!

If you meet a girl who briefly dated another guy you know, you have options. You can reach out to him and ask for clearance, you can act like you don’t know, you can acknowledge it and realize their time has past, or you can move on to another chick. It’s up to you, but you must accept that this will happen over and over again. You probably know someone at grad school at Meharry, Harvard, Duke, Columbia, Georgetown, etc. that is connected to the person you just met, since you know all Black people that can read and write know each other. Now if they are a lifelong friend, then you’d probably move on, but someone you just know…you should think about it.

Come back to Homecoming, hang out with your college friends, but who is doing what with who is no longer (actually, shouldn’t have been) important.

We spent too much time impressing people and worrying about things that don’t matter. The bubble we were in during undergrad must be burst. We’re not in college anymore. We had fun, we met people, we enjoyed life. It’s time to look forward.

I know I’ve met women I could marry while in undergrad (not that I’m trying to anytime soon), but it took my friends from other schools to make me appreciate it.

Now if only the Men in Black could wipe my memory clean of all the unimportant details of their dating lives. Or if we could get out of this proverbial bubble that prevents us from seeing undergrad the way we did. It’s time to throw undergrad aside and move on, but realize and truly appreciate who we went to school with.

You don’t have to date someone you went to undergrad with, but you shouldn’t be averse to it because of things and people that really don’t matter in the long run.

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