Opinion: Temporary solutions fail against cultural divide
Asia Porter | Online Editor
Over spring break I visited Howard and Hampton University, two Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
In 2014, 239,000 students enrolled into 100 HBCUs nationwide. While non-blacks are welcome, the vast majority of those who attend are black, a quality that has become increasingly appealing to some students. Founded in 1837, HBCUs were minorities’ primary source of higher education; however, today, even with thousands of options, hundreds of thousands of young black men and women choose to attend a predominantly black college.
While there are multiple explanations for this, the overwhelming opinion I received from tour guides was there was no competing with being in an environment where everyone understood your perspective.
This trend is reflected on college campuses nationwide. Diversity Digest surveyed a diverse campus, 60 percent of the student body coming from minority races, and found students oftentimes formed friendship circles excluding outside races. Blacks were mostly likely to have homogenous groups at this particular university, and one in three whites had a similar setup. Japanese and Filipino students reported the fewest instances of congruence.
This reflects the divide of which Americans have become increasingly aware. Many blame our nation’s leaders for spewing nasty rhetoric into our broadcasts; however, this divide did not happen overnight. We thought we moved into a post-racism period a decade ago; however, bigotry was not suddenly replaced with cultural understanding and acceptance when a black man moved into the White House. Still, we ignored these issues for years, covering up our wounds but failing to heal them. The band aid we put over the cracks in our nation is starting to wear out, and the issues we thought we terminated in 2008 are back in full force.
We say we are accepting and understanding but fail on the last qualification. I was greeted with blank stares at my mentioning of Hampton and Howard, and I assume 96 percent of Mason High School would relay that same reaction. The remaining four percent would immediately recognize the popular HBCUs, an acronym that has been tossed around African American households countless of times.
This lack of understanding, not just of black culture but all races, is the source our fracture, and unfortunately, the cut has become too deep. Our latex strip is no longer sufficient.
We have used every excuse in the book. Our current one being with every generation, naturally, we become more accepting; thus, there is no need for added effort. While, research shows millennials are more accepting, the divide among them in dining halls exists. It will take more than acceptance to rid us of our illness. We have a duty to grow to understand those around us, to learn their culture and customs, to, rather than simply hearing opposing viewpoints, listen to them. If we do not attack this issue at its source and place greater emphasis in getting to know our neighbors, our wounds will remain exposed, prolonging the pain and suffering.