It’s time out for people who graduated from, attend, work for, and/or support historically Black college and universities (HBCUs) to continue to stay on defense about the significant value of HBCUs. We need to get on offense. Yes, defense is important because it is the side of the ball where a team prevents the other team from scoring points, but you cannot win without scoring points. Of course, great defensive efforts can lead to the scoring of points but those defensive efforts must be converted into offense. This is how it goes in basketball and football and this is how it goes when it comes to winning the war being waged against our beloved HBCUs.
We’ve been on defense far too long and we’ve not converted our defense into offense, meaning we are not scoring any points against our opponents, those who try to dismantle, devalue, and/or undermine HBCUs. We already know that most of the enemies of HBCUs are White. These are not just any White people either—these are racist, elitist, classist, and/or prejudiced White people. Therefore, just don’t look at any White person and assume that he or she is an enemy of HBCUs. You have to evaluate words and actions of people to resolve whether or not they are enemies of HBCUs. Don’t just think that the enemies of HBCUs are all White—many Blacks are some of the greatest enemies of HBCUs.
You may be thinking that the only Black enemies of HBCUs have to be those “nefarious Black conservatives.” Unfortunately, many of the nefarious Black enemies of HBCUs are those who attend or have attended one of these institutions or work for or have worked for one of these institutions. Now, these previously mentioned Black enemies of HBCUs represent a tremendously small percentage of the enemies of HBCUs, but their power can be just as damaging as White enemies of HBCUs—possibly even more injurious.
Instead of letting misinformation, unmerited negative criticism, blatant lies, unfair characterizations, belittling viewpoints, and etc. continue to have a significant impact, Black people and non-Blacks who support HBCUs need to use the power of social media to saturate the internet with true information and responses to misinformation about HBCUs and offer positive messages about HBCUs. If you only know information about the specific HBCUs you attend/or graduated from, then just talk about your specific HBCU through social media. Use your Facebook status and the “Note” function to periodically say something positive about HBCUs. Use Twitter to occasionally say something positive about HBCUs. Make YouTube videos that present HBCUs in a positive light. Bloggers should pen pieces that communicate positive academic, social, and professional student experiences at HBCUs. For those who don’t blog, get a free blog at WordPress (http://wordpress.com) or Blogger (http://blogger.com) and compose positive pieces about HBCUs—they don’t have to be long pieces either.
Again, the goal is to saturate the internet with positive information and messages about HBCUs. Now, I see many Black people engaging in all kinds of foolishness through social media. Take a little time to devote to supporting HBCUs through social media. We must focus on making it clear that HBCUs offer great academic value and experiences. The internet needs to be filled with great success stories of those who have graduate from HBCUs.
Although I’m not attempting to present the ideas in this article as panaceas to the problems HBCUs confront, the ideas in this piece are practical ways to help us advance, defend, ameliorate, and support HBCUs. Black people have the power to use social media to form a potent collective to market HBCUs in the way they deserve to be marketed.
Please take at least a small amount of the time you spend using social media to devote to uplifting, improving, advancing, and supporting HBCUs. We are strongest when we are united!
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison