Op-Ed

Mar 11 2022
My PWI v. THE HBCU 
RuQuan Brown

The conversation about what schools our children should attend should be eradicated. Even Black schools carry traditions that are intact at white ones. 

After my last written piece, I Will Write How I Write, many mentors advised that I “take [my] talents to an HBCU.” “Why don’t you just go to Howard,” is what they asked. 

I will not transfer to Howard or any other HBCU because it should not be my responsibility to fight the fight on my own. I would be abandoning my school that offers paid internships overseas, guaranteed financial aid for study abroad for every student, and awesome health insurance. I live in a recently renovated dorm with new furniture, awesome windows to experience nature, a gym to workout in, an art room to paint in, and several piano rooms to practice Stevie Wonder covers. 

I will not leave this hell to go to another one that has more people that look like me. I will only transfer from my PWI if the alumni encouraging me to leave put together their voices, platforms, resources, and influence to encourage their HBCU to give their students the most brilliant experience holistically. I am willing to fight. But I am only willing to fight this fight *together*. 

Together = students, parents, staff, administrators, alumni, states, cities, federal government, and local governments.  

I believe that its time for us, everyone listed above, to make the decision easier for Black students by leveling the playing field at both sects of schools. All the resources that PWIs offer should be available at every HBCU. And every PWI should have cultural competency and inclusive community for Black students. This is only possible, in my opinion, if we:

  1. Create entirely new schools where we can write the plans that include immense resources and strong community. This plan will take the longest but is most sustainable because nobody can take it from us. 
  2. HBCU alumni begin to organize on a larger scale and hold their institutions accountable to giving students true life. Not just tradition and a cultural experience. These institutions already have community, but are missing the resources. 
  3. Black PWI alumni come back to help Black students fight for more cultural competency and inclusivity. These institutions already have the resources, but are missing community,  

True life is a blend of community and resource. We cannot experience life without both: community and resource. 

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Mar 1 2022
I Will Write How I Write, RuQuan Brown

Just like Zora, 


I will write how I write. 

I’m a second year student at Harvard University. I recently sent a text to one of my endearing family members saying, “not happy. I hate school. Too white. I’m not living real life. It’s like I’m committing suicide.” 

My former teacher at Howard University Middle School of Math and Science responded, “This is some deep shit and I think you should write about it and publish your writing online as an outlet.” 

Since it was like she read my mind, I immediately called her and admitted that I haven’t written because my “academic writing” has been turned down so much. Time and time again by Harvard professors and many other instructors my essays, of all genres, have been returned to me as “grammatically incorrect,” or “not enough ‘legitimate’ sources.” It’s ironic that the people who are supposed to teach, inspire, and empower happen to be the people who have discouraged, punished, and put fear into so many students. I am no longer going to allow imposter syndrome to hamper me or us. 

If I had more professors, staff, and classmates like her I wouldn’t feel hopeless at Harvard. She spoke with me for an entire hour reminding me to channel the courage of Zora Neal Hurston and “write how you write.” Zora Neal Hurston is one of the prolific Black writers of the 20th Century. She often maintained her natural language, not assimilating to “Academic English” in her writing.

It’s time that I, too, speak up for myself and others about our experiences at what some consider a top 3 College/University in the world. 

I’m most recently from Washington, DC. In DC I watched my teammate die, witnessed robberies and brawls, and even walked everyday up and down a drug ridden street. I even questioned if I, myself, would make it out of DC alive.

Despite this devastating news, Harvard is much worse. 

Harvard has been extremely oppressive, negligent, and dismissive of Black voices since I received my acceptance letter in March of 2020. It started with white students arguing with Black students about the importance of Black lives. It went to Harvard football players challenging their coaches to do more for Black athletes. It continued to being a part of an extremely small amount of African American students on campus. 

Humans were not made to be absent from their communities. Black students deserve to be heard, felt, and seen. 

I am no longer afraid of dying. 

I am now afraid that due to the heavy, burdensome yoke of Harvard College and it’s ancestors: I am dying.