Why Malia Obama Should Consider an HBCU

by A.K. Staggers

Brown University students have issued a collective apology to Malia Obama for their lack of “chill” and immaturity when posting pictures of the First Daughter’s visit at a campus party where she stood near a table that was allegedly set up for a game of beer pong.  It seems these students didn’t think that sharing these photos publicly on Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat would go viral, nor did the student who sent the photo to a media outlet think that this would somehow damage the University’s chances of courting Malia into its class of ‘20.

Whatever the fallout is for Brown, I have seen the reported options for Malia’s college choice, and some very impressive institutions are listed.  While we would love to have her in New Haven if she chooses Yale, I, however, will encourage the First Family to consider adding an HBCU to the list.
While Malia Obama will never be free from public scrutiny because she is the daughter of the first African-American President of the United States, attending an HBCU could insulate her from the type of media circus we have witnessed. Therefore, she may have some growth opportunities in the HBCU environment that will be unique

He father's election was historic.  If she attends an HBCUm she can create her own legacy with another historic moment by becoming the first child of any President, sitting or otherwise, to have attended.  Imagine the philanthropic work she could do on behalf of HBCUs. With many seeking to boost enrollment, she can do for HBCUs in the millenium what "A Different World" did for them in the 90s.

Black celebrities have attended HBCUs and continue to send their kids. While the star of celebrity shines brightly upon first arrival, these students eventually become one and the same with their classmates and are woven into the fabric of the institutions.  Taraji P. Henson transferred her son to Howard recently after she feared he was racially profiled on his campus in California; Stevie Wonder sent his daughter, Aisha, to Fisk University; and Keisha Knight Pulliam, famous for her role a “Rudy” on The Cosby Show, attended Spelman College in Atlanta where she pledged Delta Sigma Theta and still remains an advocate for HBCUs, and Spike Lee, the man whose film her parents saw on their first date, is a Morehouse College alum.

There is one thing that no matter where black students go to college, we do agree can only be found at HBCUs: deep, unbreakable bonds of friendship. To describe the kinds of friendship ties one makes at an HBCU is nearly impossible, except to say that they are unique ane genuine sources of love and caring that last a lifetime, not just the course of matriculation. For Malia, this will be important as she matures and weeds out those in her inner circle who are just there for social media "likes."

While no one should pressure this young woman into making a decision about her life, I do hope that she looks at the wealth of opportunity HBCUs have to offer and if she does decide elsewhere, that she encourages her younger sister, Sasha, to consider one or more when the decision is her's.

A.K. Staggers is a freelance contributor for Atlanta Blackstar and a professor of social sciences.

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