I commend Delta State University for becoming the first “white” college in the state of Mississippi to have a student population truly representative of the state at about 40 percent black and 60 percent white. While such an accomplishment is a distant dream for us here at the University of Mississippi – perhaps not even a goal of the university – we should focus on the hypocrisy of forcing these “white” schools to be more representative of the state, while historically black colleges and universities go completely ignored.
If we are going to pressure Ole Miss to take measures to become more representative of the state’s population, we should do the same for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), which are much more black than Ole Miss and Mississippi State are white. It’s almost as if we just accept that it’s OK for blacks to have a separate facility because various forms of racism still exist. Truth is, HBCUs in Mississippi seem to have become a place where black students can hide from interactions with white people under the claim they feel more comfortable and in a place that is over 90 percent black. I’m sure they do feel much more comfortable.
Because of everyone’s “need” to feel comfortable, Mississippi’s higher education remains very segregated. Life isn’t all about comfort, and the only way to progress as a society is by stepping outside of your comfort zone. This was one of my primary reasons for attending Ole Miss (that and SEC football), and my high school friends and teachers looked at me like I was a fool when I said that to them. Up until commencement, I was bombarded with questions of why I wanted to be around all those white people as they all ran away to black schools that serve very little purpose in 2008.
True, racism is alive and well, and, as we all know, I’d be the first to admit that. Yet it’s not as if black people can’t get into other universities and succeed. The true HBCUs have outlived their purpose and should now simply become another university and integrate.