The Importance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Women’s Colleges in Trump’s America

On March 5th, President Donald Trump issued a statement questioning the constitutionality and legitimacy of Historically Black Colleges and Universities as well as the allocated federal funding that goes towards these institutions. When I first heard Trump’s statement, I realized that the same argument could be made towards the constitutionality of women’s colleges. We are parallel lines of an objective juxtaposition.

I am a white woman who attends Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It is the oldest women’s college in the United States and is one of the most racially diverse colleges in the nation. While attending Salem College, I have received plenty of ridicule from family and friends because they do not understand the purpose of a women’s college. There are many misconceptions and stereotypes that surround women’s colleges that are either simply not true, or are true but don’t apply to everyone that attends a women’s college. I have heard from family and friends that they believe women’s colleges are outdated, a place where women receive their “Mrs. degrees”, or because I’m “experimenting” which isn’t the case for me at all. My personal reason for choosing a women’s college is because I am supported and networked with alumni who have made extraordinary contributions to women in society, and humanity in general.

The other day, President Trump called out another significant school for higher learning, Historically Black Colleges and Universities. It made me first take pause and then get angry. One might think “why do you care about Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)?” Some might contend that women’s colleges and HBCUs are polar opposites in society’s eyes. However, under further examination, I have discovered that women’s colleges and HBCUs are in fact parallel lines in high pursuit of the same objective. We are not separate from each other at all, as we’ve been told, and we are not equal to those in power who place hurdles in front of our advancements.

The formerly defunct Salem College Feminist Club, in what we thought was a more progressive, inclusive world was now deserving of a dust off and restoration because of Donald Trump’s sexist rhetoric. The club is now reinstated on the heels of the worst political blunder of the 21st century. While my friends and I were drafting our club’s constitution, we ended up on the topic of women’s colleges and why they are still prevalent. My friend explained to us that the end result of a women’s college, if they do their due diligence correctly, will no longer need to exist when women are finally equal to men. Women still haven’t achieved full equality in the United States and still have a good deal of barriers to overcome, such as the pay gap, healthcare, racism, LGBT+, violence, and etc. Until women can overcome these obstacles, women’s colleges will remain a necessary option for women who want to go into male dominated careers. The same idea goes for HBCUs as well. Black people are the most oppressed group of people in the United States and face the toughest advantages. They are entitled to an outlet and an educational option that provides them with an empowerment of one another in an intellectual setting.

I fully support the idea and federal funding of HBCUs for both private and public institutions. There are not only gender disparities, but also racial disparities as well that the United States has yet to overcome. President Trump and his colleagues are deceiving their constituents by making them believe it’s beneficial to cut federal funding towards HBCUs. Though contrary to what you may believe, white men are not barred from attending women colleges (depending on the institution’s charter/program) or HBCUs; they just do not make up the majority of the student body. Whites do not represent black people’s voices just like men do not represent women’s voices. They cannot determine our human rights and requirements. Trump’s argument to cut funding for HBCUs works because it is essential to protect everyone’s constitutional rights. However, it is a dangerous tactic to prevent people of different ethnicities from assembling in a creative process. It also hinders them to only be educated in processes that suppresses their truth by silencing them.

In today’s hateful political climate, giving people of different racial and gender backgrounds a place where they can elevate their opinions in a community where they’re not discriminated against is crucial. Both women’s colleges and HBCUs enable their students to support one another as well as gain scholarly acumen to empower themselves to better serve their families and their community at large. Women and black people have been discriminated against time and time again in history. It is time we realize the relevance of these two types of institutions as imperative rather than deeming it as unlawful and discriminatory.