Are competition and hierarchy seriously prevalent in the black community? I’ve had some time to dwell on it and here’s what I think. A week ago, I saw a Tiktok video by a user named @iheartjaidior, and in it, she said, “HBCUs are filled with nothing but insecure bullies.”
This caught my attention because I felt this was a controversial opinion, so I opened the comments to see what other people thought about it. Many Black people agreed with her, saying that’s why they ended up going to a PWI. I sat there and contemplated this for a few minutes.
I explored the subject further, and I ended up coming across other videos explaining the issue. Classism, texturism and colorism were often brought up.
Many said that students at HBCUs often judge other Black people who don’t have 40-inch buss downs and Telfar bags, who don’t have loosely textured hair, who are dark-skinned, who listen to different music and have different hobbies than a Black person would be “expected” to have.
I have never attended an HBCU but I have been to a predominantly Black high school and I have been in Black spaces for practically my entire life. With that being said, I feel like I could see where these people are coming from. In high school, I was often ostracized because of my fashion choices, the way I wore my hair and my interests and music tastes.
I was often accused of acting “white” whatever that means. Many Black people around me who were maybe “different” from what you’d expect from a Black person experienced the same thing. It’s very frustrating and some could somewhat understand why Black people will avoid being in Black spaces.
They fear judgment and fear isolation. And in this fear, they have sometimes been driven away from the Black community as a whole. They seek refuge in other communities that may seem more accepting of them as a person.
I feel we need to acknowledge that the inner hierarchy within our community is a very real thing.
Classism, texturism and colorism have been present in our community for a long time. I feel this is because we are at the bottom of the minority pyramid, so some of us feel the need to have a way to be at the top within that bottom tier.
I may be Black but I have more money than other Black people so I’m better. I may be Black but my hair is loose and my skin is light so I’m better.
It’s a mindset some of us adopt as a coping mechanism; a way to deal with the exhaustion of being Black in a white world.
I think it’s important to recognize this and try to fix the issue one step at a time.
However, I think it’s also important not to generalize Black people and HBCU students as “judgmental bullies” because all of us aren’t like that.
Many Black people are very warm and welcoming no matter who you are, what you look like or what you like. That’s how I’m able to have a circle of Black friends that I love and enjoy spending time with.
Avoiding those Black people who may have judgemental tendencies and negative energy is very understandable and completely valid but in shunning those people, do not shun us all.
Stay connected to your Blackness and remember that there are always Black people out there who will accept you for who you are.