By Nikki Brooks

The 90’s almost destroyed public Black Colleges. 

In addition to accreditation issues, withholding of funds, and subtle campaigns that were labeling Black colleges like Texas Southern University or Prairie View as ‘unnecessary reverse racism.’ We were told that Black schools were about to shut down – and that the degrees weren’t ‘worth the piece of paper they were written on.’ Many of us were literally told not to entertain the idea of the ‘endangered’ HBCU. And we didn’t. We flooded PWI’s because they toted better facilities, smoother operations, and of course, more scholarships, timely financial aid, and resources. 

This created a subtle underground social PWI ‘Black experience’ VS THE HBCU EXPERIENCE amongst the Black College Educated XENNIALS.

Nothing has demonstrated this thought divide more than Deion Sanders taking a promotion at Colorado University. PHEW! The internet is ablaze with people – ESPECIALLY BLACK FOLKS – literally blaming and brow-beating one another over whether we are being crabs in a bucket about someone’s money, to complaining that HBCU’s can’t be great because too many of us think “the White Man’s Ice Colder.”  

There is a huge disconnect between the actual logic of how a college or HBCU operates, vs the ideas and the stereotypes. The data is overflowing. The ignorance is underwhelming. And frankly – it’s upsetting me, my homegirls, and my leave-out.

Many have strong opinions about what HBCU’s should do and how they can be ‘fixed.’

But they have no idea how the US Department of Education, the Federal and State Governments, and the Collegiate Accrediting Bodies have actively colluded together for decades to keep HBCU’s broke and broken. 

And no matter how optimistic we are…

No matter how much Black Excellence we produce or employ…

The truth is that we cannot behave, support, handshake, or DONATE our way out of GENERATIONS of educational land grant theft, inequitable and unfair accreditation policies, and blatant theft and refusal to provide monies due from the hands of corrupt and racist State politicians. 

I agree with and understand the optimism associated with Deion Sanders. However, the Savior Complex that’s attached to him is yet another internal coping mechanism that allows us to take our irritation out on one another because we cannot adequately change what oppresses us.  

The truth is that HBCU’s will never recover the arrears due them without some form of reparations. And it can happen. 

The easiest way to do this is to mirror what Texas A&M has done with Prairie View and that is for existing ‘flagship’ PWI land-grant institutions to contribute endowments and pull an existing HBCU into its state college system so that the monies will continuously bridge the gap and repair the breech.

The state governments should, of course, settle their arrears and be made to aggressively back pay funds that were stolen and withheld as well, but most can’t afford to pay the bottom line numbers of what’s owed – let alone the damage that has resulted.  So what does that look like?

  • Jackson State goes on the payroll of OleMiss.
  • UofH endows TSU
  • LSU adopts Southern.
  • LATech adopts Grambling.

And it will work. Culture won’t be lost. TAMU has successfully modeled this originally intended partnership with PVAMU for decades.  The government should mandate the systemic adoption of land-grant colleges and protect the culture. 

WHY? Because the reality is that there is SYSTEMIC and HISTORICAL reason that almost every HBCU encounters the SAME EXACT problems in the SAME EXACT areas in the SAME EXACT way. The research has been done.

Many states such as Maryland and Mississippi have run the numbers, uncovered the fraud, and have made settlements to restore what they stole. But it’s not enough.

And part of our healing is to stop pretending that we can’t see it, we’re our own enemy, or worse – that we alone can outgive it or change it. It’s time for us to stop deflecting from the history, look at the data, and accept the fact that Jim Crow, White Supremacy, and White Rage in America has done a very thorough job of abusing and oppressing Black progress at every angle. 

Of course HBCU’s will continue to do as they always have and produce generations of Black Excellence. It’s time for the GOVERNMENT and THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION to right the wrongs, clear up their arrears and set things straight. 

We must hold their feet to the fire with a solution that’s will get things done.

Buckets and Ice…

As far as the PWI vs HBCU debate about which one is better or more appropriate and legitimate, here’s the truth.

The White Man’s Ice Ain’t Colder, however it stays true to form because he’s got a deep freezer and an automatic ice maker with a water purifier in his garage. His grandfather made sure that he had everything he needed.  Meanwhile, we’ve been trying to get every person to sell a 6-pack of water so that we can pool enough funds to buy a new ice chest. And we still manually fill ice cube trays with water we have to buy from the store because we know that manual labor makes us strong and “builds character.”

Crabs in the barrels and buckets…

Crabs in their natural habitat behave completely different than the crabs that are being contained on ice for a seafood boil. Crabs don’t belong in buckets – neither can they place themselves there.  But the ice and the buckets are separate issues that can be unpacked at a later date and time.


It’s time to stop deflecting from the data and hold the government’s feet to the fire and make whole the Historically Black Institutions they almost successfully destroyed. #BreakTheBuckets

Nikki Brooks likes to provide social commentary that sheds light on issues involving inclusion, equity, change management, social justice and policy change.