ERNEST OWENS

Ernest Media Empire, Inc.

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About

Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Ernest Owens is an award-winning multimedia journalist. A graduate from the University of Pennsylvania, he launched a career in media as a talk radio show host for WQHS Radio and as a video producer and op-ed columnist for The Daily Pennsylvanian. Ernest has interned at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, NBC Philadelphia, and Philadelphia City Council. He is currently a contributing writer for USA Today & The Huffington Post, where he covers a variety of social issues regarding society, race, and entertainment. His work has been featured on The Good Men Project, Al Jazeera English, The Root, The Oprah Winfrey Network and other media outlets. He is a member of the Radio Television Digital News Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, National Association of Black Journalists, and the Online News Association. His writing and filmmaking has even been honored with the Gold Circle Award by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and a Finalist Award from the Tribeca Film Festival. When not blogging, he loves chatting with people on Twitter so toss a tweet to @MrErnestOwens! All images, text, and content of this website are under the sole copyright of Ernest Media Empire, Inc. and protected by law. Please feel free to view the content at this official website, but any storage or reproduction elsewhere is strictly forbidden.

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No, Gay Isn’t the New Black

As society “progress,” we have become a bunch of cultural sycophants obsessed with creating false affirmations and pseudo-solidarities.

I quite frankly cannot decide when all this began, but perhaps the election of our 44th president made many began to assume that a post-racial society may not be here but could be coming very soon. Well I am here to tell you all that we are not as close as we imagine because we have yet to even recognize the problem.

I am that “double-minority” that such media commentators have decided to call me. Being an openly black gay man I have always had my fair share of insults, transgressions, and remorse. Many come from both communities that I am told I have an affinity with, but never fully within.

As an openly black gay man you are often told “you are too gay” for ideal conventional black social circles or “too black” for the predominately white CIS-gender (gender identity where individuals’ experiences of their own gender match the sex they were assigned at birth) gay circles that you occupy.

And as I begin to see a new wave of “progress” come within both communities, I also begin to become frustrated with what is now becoming the “gay-washing” of my ethnic heritage and ancestral condition.

So I say this with the utmost sincerity: please Gay America, stop comparing the current fight for LGBT rights to that of the civil rights movement. It is not only historically and culturally inaccurate, but personally offensive to the very gays of color you strive to also advocate for.

Put this in context. Before I open my mouth or cross the street, I am not approached because I am gay but because I am black. Yes, when walking down the Gayborhood in my current residence of Philadelphia, I might often be called a slur every now and then. However, the day-to-day oppression I endure as a man of color does not compare to the homophobia that I receive.

This is not to say that racism and homophobia are both not horrific offenses that should be corrected. But I am saying that to not recognize the historical context that the former have is like comparing the Holocaust to a campus shooting. It’s just not accurate in scope and quite frankly unnecessary.

When I hear things like “the fight for gay rights is the new civil rights,” I then reply “do you really think that people of color are done fighting?” With all of the social injustices an entire section of our population continue to face, it would be foolish to equate such a movement to the one gays are currently fighting for now.

As a gay man, I can personally acknowledge my privilege and luxury in wanting specific laws to be knocked down and called out. But as a black man, I can’t even begin to start on how to re-shape laws that are already constitutionally sound, but are not being allocated properly in my community.

It’s an uphill battle, one that does not help when those from the gay community have made it seem like a dichotomy to support liberties for both parties. I can honestly say as groups that have come from oppressive backgrounds, we have become so internally divisive that we’ve made it hard to see what we could help each other in rather than compare.

Currently with both movements there is a strong lead of men that fit the narrative of being socially respectable. Such elitist, male-centrist vibes are not exclusive to either group, and that is what concerns me.

When I look at the current make-up of LGBT groups around my alma mater and many other college campuses, many are filled with white men with a few spots of color or female representation in-between. What is even worse is the lack of acknowledging the intersection of the community which crosses various racial, gender, and sexual-identity lines. In other words, when it comes to “gay rights,” those who are mainly speaking on the behalf of the majority is not adhering to the needs of many who add to the diversity of it.

Although there was such a dilemma over authoritative direction during the civil rights movement, all could agree upon what universal rights and privileges blacks deserved in a country that ensured it for whites.

In 2014, heterosexuals are and have been our brothers, sisters, cousins, parents, and more. In 1964, whites were not so familiar with my ancestors. To not fully delve into the nuance such a dynamic provides only infuriates the legacy those who have died behind ensuring such rights for their community.

To put this more in context, picture this: if a white CIS-gendered gay male crosses the street and I pass him late at night and a police stops us… who will he most likely profile? No question it would be me and such laws such as NYPD’s Stop and Frisk supports that. At birth, I was identified as black before I was later recognized as gay.

That is why it is easier now for such progressive and direct action to be given for gay rights than it has been civil rights. Sexual preference/orientation and race are two different things and combating the war on the former still has not been won.

If America today decided to give equal marriage protection for all couples regardless of sexual orientation in every state and uplifted discrimination laws on employment and other departments, the “Gay Civil Rights Movement” would have less to fight for.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964… and we are still fighting.

Long story short, gay rights are important and should be mandated at the utmost degree. However, recognize that they are not, nor ever will have, the same level of struggle or oppression that have plagued this country for hundreds of years.

As a black man, I say please check yourself. As a gay man, I say we ought to know better. As a black gay man, I say it’s time we properly respect our struggle.

(Source: The Huffington Post)

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Why My Selfie With Amy Adams Will Be My All-Time Favorite

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It was a normal Friday morning.

I was leaving Philadelphia for trip to Los Angeles to cover the BET Awards. A little cranky that I would have to have a layaway in between, I was happy nonetheless to get an early flight. My mother found something on Hotwire that worked for my budget and that meant making a short detour in Detroit before making it to the West Coast.

I was seat 14B that morning when I would go from one normal passenger to sitting in coach to sitting in the luckiest seat on the flight.

Delta Airlines had not always been my favorite venue and when I saw how many passengers were on the plane, I was not in the best mood. Furthermore, when I found out that the flight would be roughly four hours and I would not be near a window… I was even more annoyed.

Then entered a soldier in uniform who sat next to me. I quickly greeted him with a good morning and as I began to start conversation with him, a stewardess approached him. She seemed very friendly, and I assumed she was going to give him a free pillow or something. He quickly grinned as she whispered in his ear and got his luggage and headed to the front.

I quickly reflected on how nice it was for the airlines to give him a free first class seat. Then I began to plot what I was going to do with this extra seat. Without a second thought, my carry-on was off the floor and had a seat of its own. Even though it was an Aldo messenger bag, I still valued it enough not to just have it lying out in the open for people to step on it.

But it was only a few minutes until that bag would be on the floor again, because that 14A seat on the flight to Los Angeles, California had an even greater purpose.

In came Amy Adams. At first, I was thinking that she was making a celebrity “I am here paparazzi and fans, get excited before I head back to first class” appearance. And then I can tell she was actually looking for a seat. I thought to myself this must be a joke. I know they said that serious Hollywood actress payouts were declining, but I thought to myself this actually would be funny if she was paying for coach to stay on budget.

And then she was looking for seat 14A and then I internally lost my mind. There is no she was sitting next to me. Then I had one of those devious thought that this must be an Ashton Kutcher Punk’d type of televised prank. But I physically played along, but mentally was freaking out.

Truth be told, I am an avid movie fan. I watch the Oscars obsessively (yes, even on YouTube) and all the films that get nominated. I have even done film critiques in the past, so to have Amy Adams sit next to me is almost like a 13-year-old girl sitting next to N*Sync in their prime.

So in my most ridiculous and nerdy introduction I said, “Hey, I’m a huge fan, you sooo deserve an Oscar… I can’t wait till it happen.”

*Film fact: Ms. Adams has been nominated for an Academy Award 5 times over the last 9 years without a single win.*

Anyway, she was very modest and humble about that assertion and replied back “it’s just great to be able to go there as often as I’ve had and be able to have had so many great roles.” And then we took the selfie that the media would share all over the world.

And for the next four hours we talked, laughed, joked, and I will never forget a single second of it.

What I learned through those discussions about family, life, film, race, and dreaming is that we were more alike than different. Celebrity for her is not so much of a recreation but a vessel that helps her to continue to do what she loves.

But furthermore, what many don’t know about her reason for giving up her seat for that soldier who sat next to me is that she didn’t even want the attention that came with it.

To be quite frank, anyone sitting in first class that morning could have given their seat up to that soldier. I never sat in first class before, but what a cool idea is it that something like that happen more often. For it’s the soldiers that get far less deserved screen time and attention that Ms. Adams get for doing something that is self-less and courageous.

And in two-fold, Amy Adams not only gave up her seat but she actually sat in coach as opposed to finding another first class seat to sit in. Sitting next to her she told me that she always wanted to do it and this time she had the opportunity. According to her she wanted to put her “money where [her] mouth” was.

When I got off the plane, I gave Ms. Adams a hug as we headed to the terminal. Cameras flashed and there was stream of commotion outside. Someone had apparently tweeted that Ms. Adams was on the flight and reporters were out ready to get the first response.

Inside Edition found me and quickly asked me about my experience. And shortly after, CNN, ABC News, E! News, and the rest followed. Within hours, I became a mini-celebrity. Famous for being around the famous. Sounds familiar? (Cough, cough, Ms. Kardashian)

But a week later, and now fully recovered from what was the most epic plane ride ever, I can now say that I will remember one thing that Amy Adams taught me: no one is too big or too busy to step out and so something genuinely kind for another.

Although that weekend at the BET Awards led to selfies as crazy as this, or as cool as this… nothing would ever compare to the one I took on that flight with her. Because for the first time in my life, I experienced a celebrity do something grand for someone more deserving than them that got all of the newsworthy attention granted.

To the rest of Hollywood, please take notes. Ms. Adams may not have an Oscar yet, but she surely winning the heart of America!

(Source: The Huffington Post)

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Robin Thicke, Please Check Your White Privilege

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Mr. Thicke,

I write this as a black man who knows what it means to be treated as a criminal the moment I cross the street. I know what it feels like to hear the words “threatening,” “suspicious,” and “potentially harmful,” every day.

Your new album “Paula” and all the promotion you are getting for it in the name of exploiting the marriage you once had is repulsive. And what is worse you have taken to appropriating black soul and R&B to harass her.

With all due respect, Mr. Thicke, please check your white privilege.

I have no qualms with interracial dating. I think it is a beautiful thing in an age where we all should be more accepting and understanding about race, love, and matrimony. But here is where you have taken advantage of such a relationship and have now become destructive.

We will just forget what past signs of disregard you have had for black entertainers and their work, and focus on your recent charges. As a white artist in a genre that was created, perfected, and initially curated by black musicians, you have benefited from a more diverse fan base. Your hit single “Blurred Lines” was played on every radio station from Harlem to the Hamptons and being married to actress Paula Patton solidified your positive embrace within black entertainment.

But after a publicly messy divorce, and no obvious sign of it returning, you did the unthinkable. You decided that your next stunt would be to create a record that would win back the heart of the very women you decided to stomp on. But not only would you write songs that would be about her, you would actually choose to visually and musically taunt her for the whole world to see. And as a result, exploit your most intimate times with her for the profit and notoriety that she doesn’t want.

Robin Thicke, that is called harassment. And what is even worse is that you are incorporating the very music that you appropriated from her community to violate her privacy and space. How disgusting.

And where is the white privilege in that? For many years, black musicians and artists have created music that suggests previous infidelity and romantic hardship. We all know who Usher was talking about in “Confessions” or who Eric Benet was writing his comeback songs for. But none of them had the boldness and audacity to exploit the very women they did wrong, nor did they attempt to play the victim.

Because you are white and have the privilege and entitlement to not automatically accept “no” or any other form of rejection, the public can cheer you on as you fight for what you feel you deserve. Regardless of what reasons Paula has for leaving you, your possessive nature has given you the mindset that she has no say. Even when you admit you have done wrong. 
And that is your white privilege.

Because a black man like myself would never be able to publicly harass a white woman in my music and think that I could still collect a check. Because I will never be able to perform at any predominately white awards show like you did at the BET Awards and flaunt my obsession. And if I even dared attempt to exploit the innocence of children to fuel my creepy infatuation, my career would be over.

Sure, social media isn’t giving you that much of a break as of recently, but your record label is and that is problematic. Because once again we are reminded that black women in this country, no matter how innocent or rational they are, will never get the proper respect they deserve.

And that is why I will never purchase a record from you again. I will not let your profit off of the imperialistic mindset that has made you a celebrity. You are putting a black woman through public pressure due to your own selfish wants and desires.

If you knew what was best, you would hang it up. Check your privilege and acknowledge that the example you are setting for a new generation of musicians and men is toxic. Instead of trying to show the world how bad you feel you deserve back the heart of a woman who has rightfully left you… try going to therapy or taking a break.

And I say all of this because men of color would be persecuted publicly for such outlandish behavior and would not get a second chance. Do you honestly think that an album like this is really going to make her change her mind?

You messed up, she left you, and it is over. I’m sorry, Mr. Thicke, but “no” in a divorce means “no.”

There aren’t any blurred lines there.

Sincerely,

Ernest Owens

A black man who wants white musicians like Mr. Thicke to stop having “blurred lines” when it comes to acknowledging their privilege.

(Source: The Huffington Post)

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Proud to now be an official member of the Online News Association (ONA)! Deeply humbled to be apart of the largest organization of online news directors, producers, executives and educators! I look forward to continuing the on-going maintenance of journalism ethics, and preserving the free speech rights of online journalists!

Proud to now be an official member of the Online News Association (ONA)! Deeply humbled to be apart of the largest organization of online news directors, producers, executives and educators! I look forward to continuing the on-going maintenance of journalism ethics, and preserving the free speech rights of online journalists!

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Very happy to have been apart of the BET Awards! It was very fun experience meeting all of the great celebrities and producers in the industry put on such a well received event!

Very happy to have been apart of the BET Awards! It was very fun experience meeting all of the great celebrities and producers in the industry put on such a well received event!

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Great time meeting all the fabulous celebrities at the BET Awards this weekend in LA! 

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Great time meeting all the fabulous celebrities at the BET Awards this weekend in LA! 

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Great time meeting all the fabulous celebrities at the BET Awards this weekend in LA! 

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Showed Justin Bieber how I take selfies during an all star basketball game in LA!

Showed Justin Bieber how I take selfies during an all star basketball game in LA!

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Amy Adams was a class act for giving up her first class seat to the soldier that was sitting next to me in coach! We talked for hours and I would not have traded it for the world!

Amy Adams was a class act for giving up her first class seat to the soldier that was sitting next to me in coach! We talked for hours and I would not have traded it for the world!

(Source: today.com)

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Ernest Owens at yPenn Alumni Highball. 

Ernest Owens at yPenn Alumni Highball. 

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Being ‘Motherful’ for Father’s Day

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Every year, the media and capitalism loses its mind with television programs and advertisements suggesting that society recognizes Father’s Day. I’m not ignoring the fact that there are some great fathers, such as our president, who are raising amazing children.

There is, however, an overpopulation of families in our society that are obligated to acknowledge a holiday that doesn’t exist in their households. And what is even worse is that much of what we hear and see during this time of year is society’s self-imposed pity party that we never invited ourselves to.

Coming from a single-parent background, I hear things such as:

"I bet it must be hard not having your father around during this holiday."

"How does it feel missing out on life without a dad?"

"I can only imagine the rough life fatherless children have.”

Fatherless. That is often the term used by the media to label people like me. The term in their eyes define me as one who lacks a father, missing a second half and/or incomplete. If you watch any news stories that come out this weekend, it all sends out one big message: You are not whole until you have rekindled your relationship with your father.

And as the single-parent population laugh with me at the atrocity and foolishness of how dumb-down and myopic the media attempts to simplify this situation, it also gave me an epiphany.

For many years, I never really understood what frustrated me about this messaging. Yes, it was true that my biological father isn’t involved in my life. In fact, I think I’m better for it. After my parents divorced, I now understand within my own coming of age why having a leading mother was more conducive to my maturing.

And perhaps it is within recognizing this that I have now become accustomed to turning the channel when I see these pseudo televised self-help councilors weigh in. In the very frank words of Tyra Banks, “You don’t know where the hell I come from… you have no idea what I’ve been through.” In other words, there are more to single parent raised children than just having a missing father.

In fact, what we fail to consider during the conversations about the self-prescribed Father’s Day rejects is the person who was there — mothers. Sure there is Mother’s Day, but that truly isn’t enough to describe the work that single mothers devout to raising great children as well. We forget in our banter of how hard it is for fatherless children to succeed, that history has given us some of the greatest people that have.

President Barack Obama was a fatherless child. Halle Berry, Stephen Colbert, Kanye West, Shaquille O’Neal, Barbra Streisand and countless others was able to thrive without the fatherly assistance as well. But that brings me back to that ugly term — fatherless. What made these critically acclaimed individuals achieve was not so much that their fathers weren’t around, but that their mothers were.

So instead of deeming those fatherless, I have decided to give describe them with a new word —motherful.

Motherful is those who were raised by their mothers for most of their life. It was a life without a father, but instead a life with a mother. It challenges the age old ideology that looks at the glass half empty, but instead, looks at it half full.

Being 22 years old and graduating from an Ivy League institution, I have no regrets that I have had the blessing of being raised by a single parent. Although society strives to tell me that this is not idea, I beg the question: What is not desirable about having a strong willed and devolved parent that fosters your creativity and allows you to do great things?

That was the childhood that I can recall — not the broken-home travesties that much of the media strives to perpetuate every time they discuss single parent households. Although there are disparities in some homes that are single-parent based, so are they in two-parent structures as well. We should begin to rethink what makes these stereotypes persistent.

So here are five things that I am going to start doing for the rest of my life every Father’s Day and I hope other motherful peers do so as well:

1. Speaking up about what my mother has done for me rather than what my father didn’t.

2. Continuing to realize and appreciate how complete my life is and ignore the notion that it isn’t from the media.

3. Embracing the unconventional parenting that went into my ability to thrive and be able to succeed just as well, if not more, than that of a two-parent household.

4. Learning that life isn’t defined by who walks out, but rather by who stays in.

5. Telling the world what it means to be motherful rather than fatherless.

This is the Father’s Day that I will be celebrating and there is no need to throw me a pity party, Mainstream Media America. I think it is high time that society demand an addendum to the obligatory social holidays we have placed on calendars and commercial marketing campaigns with the consideration of a Mother’s Day Part II.

Perhaps I would be reaching for the stars if I expected the world to get on board with that or maybe not. Overall, today’s narrative around single-parent households needs to change. If we are to become a modern society that intends on understanding each other, we can’t rely on seeing such individuals as less of anything but instead full of something.

#Motherful = a purpose driven life led by a mother.

Happy Father’s day to those who have one — and those who were lucky to spend extra time with your mommy — stay motherful!

(Source: The Huffington Post)

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Tonya L. Moore Is All F*d Up in Phenomenal New Self-Expose

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Picture this: By your mid-40s, you have filed three divorces, raised two children, overcame an affair and now you are a widow. Would you still believe in love? For corporate media doyenne, Tonya L. Moore, she still has faith. In her newly-released memoir, I’m All F*d: The Story of My Life, Moore tells all in what many readers are deeming a self-expose.

The title I’m All F*d Up is phrase[d] to symbolized that I’m all freed up from failures, frustrations and fears… The memoir was a way to no longer have the devil blackmail me into thinking that I wasn’t good enough,

Moore states. The self-expose allowed her to tell her own life story through love, hardship and faith. For many in the entertainment industry and church community who know of her — this will be quite the revelation.

The Event Productions and Corporate Relations Manager of BET Network (a unit of Viacom Inc.) Moore has spent the past 20 years in the business and along the way endured some personal trials and tribulations. The memoir reads initially like a tragic soap opera as well: Read about the childhood sexual abuse and betrayal that Moore faces that leads to her first marriage where she encounters further abuse.

At times the subject matter was too intense that one had to take breaks to reflect in between. Moore does not leave out details, regardless of how dark or embarrassing. “I know when a person read certain parts in the book, they might say, ‘Tonya has lost her mind,’” she laughed. “Trust me, I haven’t lost it. I’ve actually gained it.”

And while there are moments where she is very candid about the abuse that she faced from her first and third ex-husband, she also takes responsibility to her actions as well. During an intense moment in the memoir — mostly every chapter of the book is — where she discusses what went wrong in her second marriage, she reveals she had an affair as retaliation to the cheating that went on while her husband was abroad on military duty. This section of the memoir reveals a side of Moore that everything leading up to it was suggesting: She is emotionally and spiritually detoxing.

In the media landscape of Karrine Steffans and Kim Kardashians, who exploit their lives for profit and social capital, Moore’s memoir serves a unique purpose and sets a standard of values that comes with time, growth and maturity. With as much of the personal and emotional setbacks each marriage had on her life and that of her two children, she never faltered on her faith. Her optimism is inspiring for women in general, particularly young mothers of color and those in restoring faith-based intervention.

The memoir, as revealing as it for conservative readers, is necessary. It is hard to recall any recent self-expose from a woman of color who is in corporate America today that give a reader this much depth and introspective. In fact, it might be revolutionary in its relevance to the larger discussion of feminism in the age of theLean In movement. Business men have for years written about their personal obstacles to the top. When was the last time you read one from a black women who has encountered such hardships?

Tonya L. Moore is a symbol of the modern-day black woman — strong, perseverant, resilient and focused, yet spiritually vulnerable. Rational in how heartbreak happens, yet optimistic overcoming it — she invokes all of those traits in a literary piece that should be mandatory reading for her proteges.

"The scriptures state that where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty… I’m free to forgive, I’m free to love and I’m free to be who God called me to be," Moore mentions about her continual faith and how writing the memoir helped her tap into it. And as the book reaches its conclusion, you find yourself immersed with a sense of inspiration and self-purpose. It is the kind of feeling you get after you read a novel such as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple when you tell yourself, “Gosh, if she can make it out alright after all of that, then I can overcome (insert any insignificant personal complaint in your life.)”

I’m All F*d Up is a must-read memoir of the summer. And as much as you will find yourself interested in the who’s who of the names that she purposely (and intelligently) decided to omit, you will also gain a better sense of self and worthiness in your own life through each chapter. Moore is takes full control of her life as a successful woman of color that in many ways can inspire a new wave of black feminine social consciousness in regards to issues discussing professional life and intimacy.

"You are not by yourself," Moore tells her readers. "There are people out there who have been through the same things you’ve been through and have survived… Now I can say, I’m all FREED up."

(Source: The Huffington Post)

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The Case for Underrepresented Students at Predominately White Institutions

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This past weekend I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in communication. I am an openly gay black male, lower-income, and the first in my immediate family to do so. This introduction is necessary given that statistics show that inner city public school products such as myself are not typically expected to make such opening remarks.

To be 22 years old and graduate from an Ivy League institution on time had its blessings and burdens. For one, it would mean that my life afterwards would never be the same; the possibilities would be endless both professionally and intellectually.

However, reaching this point would mean enduring four years of misrepresentation, microaggression, misunderstanding, and a continuation of personal reflection and hardship.

My blackness would be questioned not only by my white peers, but my black ones as well. I would see firsthand how white privilege would make the difference between a professor being willing to give me less time during his office hours in comparison to those with a lighter complexion.

My socioeconomic status would mean that I would stay on campus every spring break and gaze at Facebook photos of my friends in Europe or Cancun. It would also make others feel more entitled to attending my college given that their parents and grandparents did as well.

To be a black male that is not an athlete at such institutions means that I had to work sometimes twice as hard to stand out. If I was not a charity case that the university could use as fundraising bait, I could forget having a strong support system. And what was even more troubling were the many students of African immigrants (Nigerian, South African, Ethiopian/Eritrean, and Ghanaian) that predominately white institutions replaced for an actually small percentage of black Americans.

This meant that even within my own community I would sometimes be looked at as an “akata,” which has been used in the past in some Nigerian/West African circles as an insult to African Americans. It also meant that my status as a child who lived in a single-parent household would not match the strong family structures many of these peers come from and the legacy of higher education that reports show also gives them even more reasons to feel empowered.

But this is only half the experience at a predominately white institution such as Penn, and while many students of color at peer institutions, such as Harvard, create campaigns that showcase the daily struggles they face nationwide (i.e. "I, Too, Am Harvard"); I ask one question:

Why did you attend?

No, I am not being condescending or insincere in my pondering, but I am curious to know what drives those who continue to discuss the hardships of attending a university that history books have shown carry a legacy of racial indifference and conflict. It is not that much of a shocker that racial tensions flare up frequently at predominately white institutions. In fact, one can almost expect it.

Logically it makes sense. Universities such as Penn, Harvard, Yale, Stanford and more place a large population of whites in the mix with those who come from such various backgrounds. Because of the heterogeneous space, things do not and will not always blend. Excuse my myopic rationale, but no matter what dynamic you face in life, this will always be the case.

As disheartening as the facts that I previously mentioned are, I write all of this to say that this is why it is even more important for students of color to attend predominately white institutions. It is a personal reality check, and furthermore a reminder to never lose sight of what we should all strive to fight for.

Here is an analogy that might offend a few people, but works. In the 1994 Disney filmThe Lion King, the main character, Simba, spent much of his time avoiding taking his throne at Pride Rock. He spent his time living what he thought was the good life; living under the motto of “Hakuna Matata” (no worries).

Despite these great vibes, deep down inside, Simba felt emptiness and guilt about avoiding his personal responsibilities. His family and friends were suffering from the harsh oppression of his uncle Scar and if he did not face what troubles ahead he would have never reigned supreme at the end.

Pride Rock is similar to those great colleges that are filled with the supremacy of bigotry, elitism and racism. In fact, I personally believe that going to anything other than that (i.e. HBCU, or no college) does nothing to help fight the injustice that will be enviable even if you try to ignore it. Case in point: our presence there is needed, we are fighting a battle that has yielded results and have made progress.

If the great W.E.B Du Bois had not received his PhD from Harvard and became the first black to do so, would we ever have imagined that it could be possible? Whites at the time thought we were not educated enough to thrive in society and at their institutions. “Separate, but equal” was the foolish notion that we all could learn the same without interracial interaction.

That is what these campaigns against predominately white institutions are unfortunately communicating without even recognizing it. We have and are making strides at these universities and will continue to do so if we do not stop pushing for our rightful presence there.

I could have easily gone to Morehouse and felt at home within its black brotherhood. However, I am also told that my desire for same-sex partnership is not that welcomed there as much as it is at one of the most gay-friendly colleges in the country, Penn.

So it is a give and take, and while many will try to act as though Historically Black Colleges and Universities are the Mecca for black intellect and success, the low endowment fundraising and scandals that happen there makes them in many ways not so different.

So, in closing, I will attempt to answer my previous question: Why did you attend?

Answer: Because I wanted to continue the legacy of brave students of color who proved that we are just as smart and deserving, if not more, than those elite and privileged that for many years dominated these institutions. And with this knowledge, I plan to partake in Sankofa and thus the legacy continues for many generations to come.

I hope you all will follow suit. We need you.

(Source: The Huffington Post)

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