Being Black At A PWI



If you’re not black you probably do not know that there are certain distinguishers when it comes to universities in America. On one end we have a PWI or predominantly white institution. These are exactly what they stand for, a university that has a majority enrollment of white people. On the other hand of the spectrum we have HBCU’s or historically black colleges and universities. HBCU’s were created in order to give black people an opportunity to learn in a society that really did not want them to get the same education as other racial groups (white people).

I remember when I started applying for college I had my mind set on attending an HBCU, preferably Howard University. Why? Well for most of my life I went to schools with little to none black people, little to none minorities really. I never met a lot of people like me and I never really felt like I could belong in any of the schools I went to. There were clear lines between the white kids and the other kids. Lines that both sides created. I will admit that I could have been more open to being friends with certain groups and people, but I can also say that certain groups were not very inviting or conscious of the things they said to people of other cultures. I wanted to go to Howard because I felt that I had experienced enough of “white culture” and I needed to take a break with people like me. I truly believed that college would be a time for me to reconnect with the black/African side of myself that I had spent all of high-school suppressing. In my head, going to Howard was my saving grace.

Obviously, I didn’t end up at Howard. I didn’t end up anywhere near Howard. Here I am at a PWI, in rural Pennsylvania. I never thought that I would end up at PSU, in my head if I didn’t go Howard I would be at a city school, a place rich in diverse cultures, with skyscrapers not trees, and at least a decent mall.

Although Penn State wasn’t my first choice, it was a good choice. Academically PSU is a great school, the resources are abundant, the facilities are amazing, and the people are generally friendly. The only thing that I think it lacks is some diversity aka black people. I know that according to PSU they are a diverse school, most people would say that they see a plethora of different cultures, I agree. I see a lot of Asians, but not as many people who look like me. I know that I might be asking for too much, if I wanted to see more black people I probably should have gone to an HBCU or any school that wasn’t in the middle of nowhere like PSU is.

Being black at a PWI isn’t the end of the world, but is also isn’t the easiest thing. We all yearn to be around people like us, people who can relate to us in their everyday lives. Yes you can talk to everyone about most things, but there comes some subjects that really only someone black will understand. For example after Donald Trump was elected as President, we had a racist incident on campus where black students including me were added to a GroupMe filled with “trolls” spewing racist garbage. A lot of  the people that I talked to saw it as a joke, nothing to get angry about. But when I sent the screenshots through a group message containing all black people, I got questions of concern, calls to go to administration, and anger from the other students, they understood.

In a country where Black and African American people make 13.3% of the population compared to the 77.1% of White people, I guess it makes sense that we will always be the minority in most situations.

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