There is an old African proverb that has been passed down from the ancestors through generations of black people that goes like this: “Never trust anyone who lets people put their feet on the couch.”
After meeting with the Trump administration for two days and reviewing Cheddar Bob’s executive order on HBCUs, Morehouse College President John Wilson Jr. issued a statement Thursday admitting that over 100 HBCU presidents went to the White House, and all they got was a lousy Instagram photo.
Wilson said that he and other black college heads were excited when they heard Trump’s usual hyperbole promising to “do more for HBCUs than any other president has done before.” After all, President Barack Obama set aside $3 billion for African-American colleges and made them a priority within the Department of Education, so Trump—Wilson reasoned—would at least give them $500 million more for this year alone, right? Maybe he’d even boost Pell Grants and create an innovation fund! At least he’d do something Republican, like offer tax breaks to companies that donate to HBCUs! Those are reasonable expectations, right?
All Trump did was move the HBCU initiative from the Department of Education to the Executive Office of the President—presumably where he uses it as a coaster for his presidential haterade. Aside from that, all the college presidents got was a look at Kellyanne Conway’s bony knees and a few more frequent-flier miles. In her dual role as White House mascot and secretary of shuck and jive, Omarosa Manigault explained, “That’s all we got, bruh.”
Wilson was even more pissed at Becky-in-chief Betsy DeVos, who—in a separate meeting—remarked how historically black colleges were America’s original pioneers for school choice. Because—you know—in the 1800s (when the first HBCUs were founded), black people had the option of waltzing into Harvard or Yale, but instead decided to break their backs creating their own schools, just because.
But HBCUs were not created because the 4 million newly freed blacks were unhappy with the choices they had. They were created because they had no choices at all. That is not just a very important distinction, it is profoundly important. Why? Because, if one does not understand the crippling and extended horrors of slavery, then how can one really understand the subsequent history and struggle of African Americans, or the current necessities and imperatives that grow out of that history and struggle?
After becoming one of the many people whom Trump has duped into believing his promises, only to leave empty-handed, Wilson did not address the loud chorus coming from HBCU alumni and black people in general, screaming, “We told y’all.”