In recent weeks, calls for widespread institutional change at some predominantly white colleges and universities have captured the nation’s collective attention. On one side, free speech fundamentalists at schools like UCLA, Yale, and the University of Missouri insist that one’s First Amendment right outweighs issues of racial insensitivity. Nobody ever guaranteed a hostile-free learning environment, they say. On the other side, black students feel unsafe as a result of unregulated free speech masked as open intellectual exchange.
I was destined to attend a historically black college or university (HBCU) once my parents met at Delaware State decades ago. Fate resulted in a childhood characterized by religious viewings of A Different World. Aside from sending me on an early quest for my real-life Denise Huxtable, the Cosby Show spinoff helped frame the black college experience that my parents and their friends had long told me about. This made the decision to attend an HBCU simple, especially after dealing with the "too black, not black enough" paradox of growing up in an all-black neighborhood, attending a predominantly white high school, and not fitting perfectly into either environment.