Recently, students across the nation began having dialogues at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) about diversity and inclusion which seems to have stalled. In recent months, there have been push backs at HBCUs nationwide which consists of excuses with regards to money, space, time and other miscellaneous reasons as to why equality cannot move forward. The equality that students want to see encompasses an overall intersectionallity of Age, Gender, Sexual Orientation, Race, National Creed and/or Origin, Occupation, and Religion.
According to Afro.com, a coalition of students from the state’s four historically black institutions is suing the State of Maryland.
The Coalition, on behalf of the HBCUs, is suing Maryland to address the disparities that HBCUs have suffered in comparison to the State’s historically White institutions due to Maryland’s failure to eliminate the vestiges of segregative practices reaching back to a time when segregation was required in Maryland by law and practice.
The lawsuit contends that the State has failed to remedy those disparities and that it maintains and perpetuates a racially discriminatory and segregated system of higher education by continuing policies and practices that are remnants of its prior officially segregated era.
“Since the state has argued that Black students are not injured by a lack of resources such as having to go to the traditionally White institutions to use the library, I don’t think it’s realistic to expect the State to rectify the deficiencies at the HBCUs,” says attorney Michael Jones, of the firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs on a pro bono basis. Read Full Article
Additionally, there have been instances of discrimination that have been reported at HBCUs in Atlanta, Ga, where I attended school which demonstrates the lack of urgency and efforts to obtaining an All-Inclusive Environment. Some of the instances range from intentional emotional damage to those of the Transgender Community. Other instances reference stereotypes of age by those of the older generation in age ranges of 45 years and higher, with other instances ranging from occupational discrimination. However, two of the most hateful instances were witnessed on a local campus in the Atlanta University Center, involving National Origin, where several students from Saudi Arabia were discriminated against by faculty and staff.
Even more recent is the discovery that a lot of HBCUs do not have levels of accountability in place to address the discrimination, since it is being rendered to students from the faculty and staff level at alarming rates. Faculty and Staff have discretion over the climate and culture of the classes in which they teach, so they are allowed to conduct their classes in the best ways, in which they deem fit. For these reasons alone, discrimination in recent semesters has either gone un-noted by administration, or un-reported for fear of retaliation, by those we charge with our safe keeping.
In the end, students are beginning to rise up in the face of marginalization and oppression and the very forms of injustice in which HBCUs are supposed to curve or cut out and create their own grassroots efforts. Several students at Clark Atlanta University are spearheading an all out Equality Initiative, which connects to how students obtain Practicum Experiences after they have receive Cultural Competency and Sensitivity Training.
The students responsible for this initiative are Social Work Students from the Whitney M. Young, Jr. School of Social Work at Clark Atlanta University. The initiative has been under wraps until now, but the students spearheading this effort is ready for the entire Atlanta University Center to breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that someone understands their plight. The training is set to be introduced at the second Faculty and Staff Institute in the summer of 2014 Mid August. The Cultural Competency and Sensitivity Training Introduction will talk about highlights of when this training will start, how it will be implemented, who it will target, how often it will be given, and who will be mandated to attend.
The training itself will touch on Sexual Orientation, Age, Gender, Race, and National Origin. These topics have been chosen, based on recent instances reported on the campus of the AUC and its affiliate institutions. Working with students spearheading this effort, is HRC- Human Rights Campaign in Washington, DC, several from Aide Atlanta, the Dean of International Affairs, the Vice President of Enrollment Services and Student Affairs, the Director of Career Planning and Placement, and a Professor from the School of Social Work at Clark Atlanta University.
As an institution of higher education founded and rooted in civil rights, there should be absolutely no reason why we should need this type of training if everyone were accepting of others’ differences. However, in an age when so much is viewed in a negative light against others because of their differences, it is necessary that we must accept each other for who we are. There are similar grassroots efforts springing up all across the nation at HBCUs, and until Equality and All-Inclusive Environments have been established at all of the nations remaining Historically Black Colleges and Universities, there will continue to be an outpouring of efforts to curve or stop the discrimination.
We are all human beings, and we need to recognize the viability of ALL people in every community, regardless of what their sexual orientation, religious affiliation, economic status and contribution, race, handicap, age, ethnicity and educational contribution to society is. Awareness and action may just help other HBCUs avoid more lawsuits as the one described earlier.
Nedrea Destaney Beyonce' Scott, A Detroit, Michigan Citizen and DMV Resident, is an MSW 2015 Graduate Scholar of the Whitney M. Young, Jr. School of Social Work. She is compassionate about Civil and Human Rights, Advocacy, Social Justice, and Equality. She is an influential Writer and Public Speaker. She is also a recent Bowie Maryland Police Department Citizens Academy 2017 Grad Service Member. She enjoys reading, writing, volunteer service and teaching in her spare time. Nedrea Scott is an Eastern Star and serves with ACFLY (Atlanta Coalition for LGBTQ Youth), and WADA (World AIDS Day Atlanta). She welcomes opportunities to work with other social workers in various capacities. She is an aspiring Law School Scholar and will join the ranks of Social Workers in the Political arena by the Fall of 2018. Nedrea Scott was educated at North Carolina Central University class of 2009 and Clark Atlanta University classes of 2012 and 2015.