The Failure of Black Elitism: An Armchair Case Study of Morehouse College

In the words and tonality of President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address let me be perfectly clear that I hate elitism in the black community with a burning passion.  It has done nothing but separate us economically and rendered us even further divided on class boundaries.

That being said, I’m over the Morehouse mystique.

Yes, I said it and I’m not taking it back.

I know I’ve historically drawn the ire of some readers who attend Morehouse or who have recently graduated when I wrote my piece “An Uppity Negro Response to Robert M. Franklin’s ‘Soul of Morehouse and the Future of the Mystique’” when I directly challenged the elitist and somewhat Victorian values that he was asserting.  I went so far as to call them “pseudo-assimilationist” and speaks to what author Ricky Jones in What’s Wrong With Obamamania? posited as “the soulessness of the talented tenth.”

And yeah, I definitely got some serious push back on that one.

One commenter began his comment “Dear Uppity Fool.”

And of course the black blogosphere was on fire following the implementation of the dress code of there.  I weighed in of course and the comments seemed to be much more in order, but of course on other blogs I visited, I heard much of the same meme that somewhat confirmed my thoughts on the Robert Franklin commentary.  At worst it reeked of assimilation, whereas some Morehouse students seemed to buy into the idea that one must dress a certain way for the mere sake of “getting a job” as if going to class or eating in the cafeteria was interview practice.

Well, here, you can read what I said, I don’t want to go off on that tangent again.

And let’s not forget when I took Morehouse and the black community to task over Joshua Packwood being the first valedictorian to graduate from Morehouse.

My point is that in the black community, we have put ourselves in a position where elitism or rather social and class divides are going to be yet another nail in the coffin of moving forward as a black race.  Perhaps I am invoking this slightly antiquated and Civil Rights era belief about being unified as a race in order to “move forward” and whatever that is or may look like, but I am quite clear that we have a problem, especially here in the Atlanta University Center.

The main sardonic and caustic response many Morehouse students added at the end of their diatribes in favor of the dress code was that “if you want to dress any old kind of way, you can go on down to Clark Atlanta.”

Clark Atlanta University is treated like some bad step-child of the AUC and Morehouse and Spelman are the evil parents.  I even have a female friend, who’s my age and went to Clemson in South Carolina but is at school with me here in the AUC, actually comment that you can tell the difference between a Morehouse or a Clark student by how they dress.

For real?

We’re really doing that in 2010 as if it’s okay?

And when I looked at her like “Are your serious?” she refused to engage me on the absurdity of such a statement.  Moreover, for one to make that statement be they a student of the AUC or not is a result of the intellectual negligence that far too many blacks engage for the sake of “sounding deep.”  It is also a result of the failure of black elitism.

Yes, W.E.B. DuBois was an elitist.  Very much so.  So much so, he only went to Fisk because in 1884 he had limited choices, but clearly he went on back up North to get his classical education.  But, this same DuBois–who taught at Atlanta University and neither Morehouse nor Spelman I might add–kind of stumbled onto something with his idea of the “talented tenth.”  In a nutshell saying it was the job of the black middle class to help those who were not as socially and economically stable and advanced, respectively. Of course a century later, DuBois’ classical education and modernist approach to doing this cultural critique are painfully evident and I’m not sure how I feel about the similar assimilationist feelings to such thought–and these are the same predilections I had toward Franklin’s speech.

But even with that, somewhere over the last few generations as we saw the recognizable black middle class form in the 1970s, the “us vs. them” ideals within our race were just ghastly.  This was the era when blacks had to put up some kind of “safe” image in order to get a corporate job.  Men had to shave their facial hair so as to not give off too much of a “Shaft” vibe of a bad-ass black male.  And black women were now straightening their hair once again as they entered the workforce so as not to offend their white counterparts.  What became markers of assimilation for blacks into white American culture became signifiers of their middle class status.  They turned their assimilation into elitism and began to drive the wedge in between the classes.

So I asked the question to my friend the other day “Do you think that some of these young men who are graduating from Morehouse are just coasting on the name?”  To which he replied “some.”  What ensued was a conversation that it’s a combination of the Morehouse culture, which I actually applaud, that seems to give entering young men the cultural capital that they are someone simply because they went to Morehouse and the pedestal on which the black community as a whole places Morehouse College.  I went so far as to say that when a young man says that they are a graduate from Morehouse (damn what other degrees they may have attained) that in the mind’s eye of your average black person, we project onto them that this young man is going to be the next so-called “black leader.”

And, be prepared, I’m about to pull back for this following punch at Morehouse men:

While I really applaud Morehouse for creating a culture that is on par with no one (thanks Benjamin Mays), have you ever talked to some of these Morehouse graduates?

I stress some and not all, but for some it’s not much going on upstairs.  They’re arrogant, pompous, blowhards who think everyone should be bowing and scraping at their feet because they went to Morehouse.  As if they’re education and world view and outlook on life is superb to that of many others.  However, when you push them on certain ideas and thoughts, one can tell it’s not much going on up there.  But for some of these guys, they’re clearly about to coast on the name of their alma mater and use it as a name-dropping tool that allows them to be heads above the rest.  And they know they can get away with it because we in the black community have bought into the idea of elitism and assimilation for dually appeasing to the nebulous sense of some Civil Rights era feeling of “unity” and the idea of presenting a relaxed picture of a well-groomed black male to larger white society.

Hear me out.

In the black community, when we think Morehouse, it’s not a hard jump to invoke the image of Martin Luther King.  While we may not expect the next graduate from Morehouse to be the next MLK per se, we are comfortable producing an image in the likeness of King.  So in some respects, this has just as much to do with the collective culture of the school and the culture of the black community as a whole.  While I may have issues with some of that, it’s really not the end of the world, what does become a harbinger of the eschaton is when we act as if only Morehouse, or even a Spelman are capable of producing such individuals.

It’s so bad that when I went to Ebenezer Baptist Church for the first time and stood up as a visitor, with my undergraduate degree already handed to me, many persons walked up to me and point blank asked “Oh, do you go to Morehouse?”  As if to say Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Clark Atlanta or any of the vast array of junior colleges in the Atlanta metropolitan weren’t an option for me if I stepped foot in the grand ol’ Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Black elitism has failed because it divides us versus them.  When a Morehouse student looks down their nose at a Clark Atlanta student simply because they went to Clark, then we have a problem.  When members of the black community give someone a pass simply because they went to Morehouse, then we have a problem.  When a Morehouse graduate coasts merely on the name of their alma mater for political reasons, then we have a problem.

Please believe, however, this problem is not relegated to Atlanta, nor the AUC nor Morehouse.  The same goes for those who live in Nashville and have to deal with the Fisk University versus Tennessee State argument that continues.  Or for the “real HU” be it Hampton or Howard.  Or even the dark-skinned blacks that go to Dillard University versus the light skinned blacks that go Xavier University down in New Orleans (which I might add begins even in the high school years with a St. Augustine all black boys school and Xavier Prep for the young women versus sending your child to McDonough #35 public school).  And please believe, the HBCU Ivy League list is real–the private HBCUs versus those sponsored by the state.

Going to Morehouse is fine, not knocking it, but let’s be realistic.

To the current students at Morehouse, as a fellow black male, I challenge you to not look down on your fellow AUC students at Morris Brown and Clark Atlanta.  They are in school just as you are.  They may have chosen to go to go to those institutions for the same reasons you chose yours, for the academics or maybe because of legacy or because of a scholarship.  It does nothing to help humanist relationships if you’re looking down your nose because someone went to Clark Atlanta.  No one likes an arrogant person just because they can be arrogant.

To the Morehouse Men who have graduated, as a fellow black male, I challenge you to not fall into the pitfalls of resting on your laurels and merely use the name of Morehouse for political advantages: know what you know and back it up.

And to the larger black community: just because a man says he graduated from Morehouse does not make him any more enlightened than the rest of us or even yourself.  Stop falling into the trap that cultural signifiers such as an image projected are proof positive or someone with substance.

An Elitist Negro sees a demarcation between “us and them” even amongst the black community.  Because far too often their approach once a degree is obtained does nothing to bridge unity even amongst fellow elitist and most certainly not the establishing community amongst each other, let alone outside of the alma mater, all it does is give an ultimatum of “love it or leave” which echoes highly of the jingoistic nature of American capitalism gone awry.

Uppity Negroes don’t give their fellow sister or brother an ultimatum, but rather an understanding ear and they try to engage in a dialogue that finds the best way for them to move forward.  An uppity Negro would echo the sentiments of this quote from W.E.B. DuBois at Howard University’s 1930 Commencement Address:

To increase abiding satifaction for the mass of our people, and for al people, someon must sacrifice something of his own happiness.  This is a duto only to those who recognize it as a duty.  It is silly to tell intelligent human beings: Be good and you will be happy. The truth is today, be good, be decent, be honorable and self-sacrificing and you will not always be happy.  You will often be desperately unhappy.  You may even be crucified, dead, and buried and the third day you will be just as dead as the first.  But with the death of your happiness may easily come the increased happiness and satisfaction and fulfillment for other people–strangers, unborn babes, uncreated worlds.  If this is not sufficient incentive, never try it–remain hogs!

What say ye concerning elitism and assimilation?  Did I go to hard on Morehouse and did it just come off as general hatin? Sorry wasn’t my intent, but much of what I’ve observed here over the past four years is just wanton hubris and downright irresponsible on behalf of Morehouse and Spelman concerning how they view Clark Atlanta and their students.

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL


31 thoughts on “The Failure of Black Elitism: An Armchair Case Study of Morehouse College

  1. This has been an issue with several of the HBCU’s for too long. Even as a child, I would hear the debates such as Howard vs. Hampton or a Morehouse vs. Clark Atlanta. I am all for friendly rivalries but black elitism has been a disservice to our community. Truth is; we need unity to move forward. I believe assimilation may have been necessary to bust open some doors. The need to assimilate would not be as great today if the “black elite” made efforts to bridge the economic and social gaps in our community.

  2. That was hatin’ disguised as a measured and analytical critique of the institution. I think it is abundantly clear that your understanding of Morehouse College is very limited and very biased. And really how could it not be when you have not attended the college or met the entirety of the student population. You interacted with a biased sample of students/graduates and read some biased speeches. I understand. What you have yet to observe, however, is what Morehouse College does everyday in application.

    It is undeniable that Morehouse has a very specific culture (traditional aesthetic, scholarship, leadership, and value for presentation)and mission. Many students enter Morehouse because they are drawn to that culture and believe in that mission. Clearly, Morehouse men value what Morehouse College does. If they didn’t then they wouldn’t be there. Often our preference for our institution is either poorly expressed or misinterpreted as elitism.

    While I am not a proponent of the dress code, I understand that most students come to Morehouse because they already value the traditional aesthetic that Morehouse supports (among other things.) It may be limiting for those who come to Morehouse for other reasons but, for a great many, it is wholly unnecessary.

    The dress code is only elitist if one is looking at a traditional aesthetic being preferred to another. There is no evidence to suggest that the Morehouse community does that. What Presidetn Franklin has said is that the dress code is MORE APPROPRIATE to the identity and mission of Morehouse College. So when my brothers say, “Go to Clark,” They are not necessarily saying “Take you lesser clothing to a lesser school.” They are saying, “Do that somewhere where it is more appropriate. For example, I eat in my dining room instead of my bedroom, not because dining rooms are better but because it is more appropriate.

    There is nothing inherently bad about making distinction between “us” and “them.” It is only when one introduces a hierarchy between groups that elitism is an issue. Morehouse does not instill or support any such hierarchy.

    1. @ Donovan

      I’ll admit, I never got the impression that those who said “Go to Clark” were speaking with the intent that Clark was a place that was “more appropriate” as simply that, but rather it was said in such a caustic way that anyone would easily see it as a put down; that Clark Atlanta is lesser than Morehouse.

      And to press the whole idea of “appropriateness” I question as to whether or not we need to re-address in society what is considered appropriate and for what means. The modern teleological approach of such thought concerning “what is appropriate behavior,” I wonder, runs the risk of being exclusionary, reductive and fails to tell all sides of the story. Just simply put, it still creates the “us vs. them” dichotomy which I still see as highly problematic simply because we automatically invoke the idea of a hierarchy.

  3. We have spent so much time trying to assimilate that we have forgotten what being unique is like. In the time spent doing that we have segregated ourselves back into silly little categories of the Elitist Negro and the Ghettofied Hoods. I doubt that I will see the day when these lines are erased, instead we will continue looking down upon one another rather than pulling together.

  4. An “us AND them” dichotomy (as you stated it in the post) is not a creation of Morehouse College and not even espoused by Morehouse as an institution. The association that you’ve made between the two is not rooted in fact but bias. That is of chief import.

    In addition, the notion that an “us AND them” dichotomy automatically invokes hierarchy is an assumption that I’m not willing to make. I Believe and have been instructed in the Morehouse tradition that we are all parts of a whole. As Dr. King would have it, “caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny.” Note that he did not say that we are all one thread. There is value in individual identity!

    Grouping, and group identity are both very human behaviors determined by biology. They are unavoidable and not necessarily bad. Sometimes, they are necessary.

    Your complaint stands in stark contrast to your goal: for Black unity because your support of the the identification, grouping, and group identity of Black Americans is directly in line with what the concept of a Morehouse identity.

    1. @ Donovan

      There’s a difference between an “us VERSUS them” and an “us AND them.” Clearly the latter doesn’t invoke any hierarchy. But I never made the argument that the issue was the latter phrase but rather the former. I’ve never had any problems with “us AND them” my issue has and always will be “us VERSUS them.”

      Perhaps Morehouse institutionally doesn’t promote any division, but that may be in theory. I still stand by my claim that not just current student and graduates of Morehouse, but many blacks in general, to quote the Babcock poem, “we [still] have hard work to do, loads to lift” to bridge the gap between our varying communities.

      1. I was referencing where you wrote,”An Elitist Negro sees a demarcation between ‘us and them’ even amongst the black community.” Given your presentation of Morehouse as an elitist institution, I assumed that the Elitist Negroes mentioned were supposed to be Morehouse Men.

      2. @ Donovan

        HAHA! I actually took that section from another post I had. Honestly, I don’t mean to use “us AND them” but rather “us VERSUS them.” View that as a typo.

  5. As always I great blog!!!! Coming from the North and graduating from a University that is housed in the same city as an Ivy league school, I experienced that type of elitism amongst my white brothers and sisters. However it baffled me that the same thing would be seen amongst my black brothers and sisters when coming to Atlanta to obtain my Master’s degree. I even experienced it on the grounds of ITC because I did not attend a HBCU for my undergraduate degree. Yet I saw the same thing, many of these individuals who attend/graduate from these “prestigious” institutes cannot engage in sound dialogue and use the identity/perception of their school as a means to “exclude them” from “deep conversations” because their “above” it. I’ve run into very few of my black brothers and sisters whom represent the legacy of these institutions by being able to engage, discuss, and articulate sustainable information based upon the criteria of the conversation. So for those who do I applaud them for not riding on the “coat tails” of their school and actually can stand on their own two feet. I call individuals who attend/graduate from these institutes who try to walk in a bright light of elitism while a dull light shines within their own brain “Yallies” (pronounced Yale-ez). Because they believe the school they attended prevents them from having to use any other mental capacity except for the one that allows for them to articulate the school they matriculated at. The sad part about it is that we are even more ignorant then them, because they only do that because we allow them to because we believe where they attended automatically places them among the “elite” in society. I guess it truly is the blind leading the blind…and it’s no wonder we can’t get anyplace.

  6. Great post. I did a talented tenth post awhile back relating to the rampant misuse of the title. There is a difference between being elite and qualifying as part of the talented tenth. To qualify you must accept all the terms of the covenant – including, most importantly, not estranging yourself (in theory and in practice) from the Black populace and working to pull up all deserving but less fortunate than you.

  7. Your ignorance offends me. Your attack on an institution , one in which i am currently attending, seems terribly uninformed. Your are the problem with black society.

    On another note, this is extremely well written.

    BUT you anomosity towards my school is appalling… your a Clark grad arent you? Figures.

    1. @ Jer Wills

      I thank you for the compliment.

      However, the fact that you ended your comment by saying “your [sic] a Clark grad arent you? Figures,” proves my point about the elitist nature of the black community and particularly that of Morehouse. Furthermore, if you read a bit more you’d be aware of what school I graduated from.

  8. Nice article! I attend a PWI and what may be worth mentioning as well as the aforementioned problems would be the way students who do attend HBCU’s view those who don’t and vice versa.

    Let’s talk about retention, not the number of famous people who attended or attend my school because if you’re a 6th year Psychology major struggling to maintain a 2.0, I don’t care what chapel you sit in, who walked these halls before you– and clearly neither do you.

    In my opinion, what many to fail to realize is that living on a legacy isn’t half way as important as the need to build your own– and that’s regardless of what institution you attend.

  9. Great job Josh! I love the blog!….I have to say I am a little worried about Mr. Jeri Wills comment. I hope he is currently enrolled in an english class at Morehouse College. (lol)

  10. I think this blog would have more substance if the author was a graduate of Morehouse College. I graduated from Morehouse in 2007. While a student, I spent a lot of my time trying to discover who I was in the midst of this “Morehouse mystique” that everyone spoke. I often questioned whether it was a realized confidence or an unjustified confidence that simply derived from Morehouse’s name.

    Our traditional Thursday morning forums would remind us of the “crown” placed above our heads that we were to grow into as we graduated and became contributing world citizens. A lot of guys wore the “crown” far before they graduated and displayed the arrogance and pompousness that you speak of but there were plenty of brothers, like myself, that wanted to earn it.

    I think that giving a young black man confidence to succeed in this country is an honorable tool that Morehouse takes great pride and has had success in doing. Many of us come from “crabs in a barrel” communities where the black people you seek acceptance from are only pleased with you when you’re at the bottom of the barrel with them. In that aspect, I don’t see any problem with division, as I have come to accept that some of our people are quite comfortable at the bottom of the barrel… or so it seems.

    So, if Morehouse gives a young black man a sense of self-confidence as a tool to go out into the world and be a contributing citizen, then so be it. That is what the name of your college is supposed to do for you. Once I graduated, I felt like I was a part of something greater than me and to this day, I still get that nod of appreciation from potential employers or strangers that might not know me personally, but recognize my alma mater.

    1. @ LT

      Thank you for your comment.

      With all due respect brother, for you to begin your comment that “this blog would have more substance if the author was a graduate of Morehouse College” reeks of the elitism that I was discussing in this blog. In essence you’ve proved my point. Such a statement creates division. Seeing as you have redefined the tradition interpretation of “crabs in a barrel” to use your education as a platform to criticize those who are lower than you, you’re just as bad as those who tear down others who have achieved some modicum of success (American style presumably).

      The division you speak of is true and realized, but just because of it’s reality doesn’t mean that those of us who know better have the right be elitist. Some of those people you may criticize are at the “bottom of the barrel” because of ignorance and don’t know any better. It’s our job to help raise them up and give them a hand up; to educate them and inform their consciousness of a different way of doing things.

      I’m certainly not knocking Morehouse, or any institution for instilling a sense of self-confidence in their black male students, but I am vehemently opposed to creating an educational culture that produces an elitist exceptionalism in their students.

      Sad to say, by the mere opening sentence of your comment you seemed to have fallen trap to such a mindset.

  11. It’s not about being an “elitist” from my point of view. I’m not looking down on anybody. In real life, sadly enough, its a lost cause for a population of our people. From this point, its about educating the future generation from birth to know better and do better.

    My opening statement was only referring to the fact that you took the immediate position of an outsider looking in as opposed to someone that lived the culture, internalized it, and analyzed it inside-out. I have my own personal critique of Morehouse. I’m not an advocate for everything that they teach or preach. So, don’t take this as a biased response. Speaking on personal observation is very far from criticizing.

    Yes, some folks are circumstantially ignorant but others are blatantly ignorant and there is a big difference. Is it because they don’t know better or is it because they don’t try? Could it be that they are afraid of possible failure and/or ridicule from people like you who might tell them that they have “sold out”?

    1. Great reply LT!

      While I agree with the article in many respects, I didn’t think your opening statement was a critique on Josh(JLL) not having attended Morehouse.

      I, as I’m certain many have, took it as a qualifier suggesting that, you’d find less resistance if you were an alumnus on the inside as oppose to speaking about the shortcoming of the institution from the outside.

      Funny however, this irrelevant facetious banter is primarily vollyed in the Black community. All too often, Black students from other celebrated non-HBCU universities give no credence to the theory that one HBCU school is different from another or even better or even on par with……..

      A more displacing and all to common irrefutable fact is that many of us [Black Students] do not believe in the academic truth of HBCUs and even less so in the faculty of its graduates. =/
      ……………………………………. That’s the real fight to be had! 06

  12. The crabs in a barrel is an old chestnut that worked well to justify barrel living.

    To bring it into context today, substitute crabs with spiritually broken individuals who want/wanted more for those whose lives (our own, and others) they hope/hoped to impact in a positive way.

    It is real that many, stacked on top of one another, allowed those on the top of the pile special opportunity. Because of those beneath them, they were boosted up and were able to ‘escape’ the barrel. That said, freedom from barrel-living is simply the beginning.

    No parent or community deliberately undermines the integrity of their own unless one identifies with crabs. Spiritual brokenness, arrogant ignorance, and conscientious stupidity continues to wreak havoc on our communities and cultural institutions.

    When we all look up toward opportunities, we find less to criticize than when we spend our time preparing for those opportunities rather than looking down on others.

    Those closer to the earth (dirt) we are, the more opportunity we have to grow. It’s a gift to grow. Those who manage to get out of the barrel have the opportunity to plant the seed of hope, resilience, and hard-work by modeling the behavior we see in success. We tend the plant, knowing that God gives the increase. Because we cannot with certainty declare the worthiness of others, we do better, IMO, by judging less and doing more in positive ways, for ourselves and for others.

    Our job is to be seed planters while looking toward our own growth by nurturing needy seedlings.

    Thanks Uppity and LT, Morehouse man.

  13. I notice you firmly blame the “middle class” black people for the wedge between the classes. I wonder have you given any thought to the possibility that it was a mutual separation between the middle and lower class. Often verbalized as the difference between “bougie African Americans” and “Real Niggas.” In my experience the separation between classes has been mutual and is fueled by ignorance, pride and jealousy.

    Just my 2 cents.

  14. Now, as a student who currently attends one of the illustrious institutions within the AUC, I would just like to say that I feel as though your opinion is more antagonistic than enlightening. Then, towards the end it was as if the fire that apparently burned deep within your soul against Morehouse College began to cool off and you began saying more neutral statements.

    My sentiment is, to place any blame upon one institution is a fallacy. Although there is an apparent divide among the schools within the AUC, it is perpetrated by students from all three institutions. Students from Spelman and Morehouse look down their noses at students from Clark Atlanta and vice versa. It’s almost as if you are making it appear as though students from Clark Atlanta are running after students from Spelman and Morehouse begging for acceptance, which is indeed not the case. Students from Clark Atlanta are just as arrogant and believe just as much in the education that they are receiving.

    Since on the list of the best colleges and universities in the country Spelman and Morehouse rank significantly higher than Clark Atlanta, I’m not sure it is a case of black elitism as much as a case of a type of educationist type of thinking. In the scheme of things, according to many lists Spelman and Morehouse are classified as better schools. If there was another school in the place of Clark, that was say- all white, but still below Spelman and Morehouse in the rankings of school, would this still be a case of black elitism?

    P.S. There were some grammar mistakes within your piece.

    1. @Lib

      To answer your question, no, it wouldn’t be a case of black elitism, but elitism in general.

      I classified it as black elitism because that what I felt more qualified to comment on, not elitism in general. However, the idea that there would be an all white “Clark Atlanta” in the AUC and one that would rank lower than Spelman and Morehouse is a concept to imagine with great difficulty.

      However, you somewhat prove my point about the elitism from Morehouse and Spelman with the nature of your comment. By still rounding up your comment that Morehouse and Spelman rank higher than Clark Atlanta seemingly justifies their eliteness is exactly what I am taking issue with.

      P.S. Thank you for 2 and half years later making sure to point out that I had grammatical errors in my piece. Who knows where I would be if you hadn’t pointed that out to me.

      1. Just found this blog via twitter.

        I love when the Grammar Elite point out errors.

        I tallied at least 4 grammar/syntax errors in Lib’s post.

        High School Graduate


  15. I despise elitism anywhere, especially unearned as in lighter complexions and born into more money, and to be real, uppity means too close a definition to elitist no matter what you may think. It’s not right, and I’m not saying pretend you aren’t wealthy or choose to stay broke, but no matter what the so-called black Elite want to believe they are not more talented or even as talented as those they don’t consider the talented tenth and end up that way often from the accident of physical darkness and that having still too close a correlation with being born into poverty than we want to know (or at least of the father being physically dark). This is something we really need to take a lot more seriously than we ever did in this country. We only are a two tiered society on paper. The truth really is much more like Latin America than we wanted to know or admit. Yes, as long as we take the Kuffar quote the poor will always be with us as OK just because instead of a problem they really will be. But I’m Muslim, and to me that is never acceptable to allow poverty and ignorance just because when you might be able to do something to help somebody out of it if you really tried and knew and related to what they were dealing with the way you should. To be truthful, it seems you are as motivated by greed as anybody else.

  16. I’m late on this. I feel as though you put a lot of thought and passion into this, but I am offended. I’m a Spelman student and your attack on Morehouse and its principles as a whole is completely biased. You never attended Morehouse so you don’t see what goes into their traditions. Some of the things you considered ‘elitism’ were just traditions. I’m defending my Morehouse brothers because people who have limited knowledge of Spelman tend to attack it in the same way. The rivalries and remarks that you consider to be elitist attitudes are often times just a part of the college experience. How many times do people say their school is the best? A LOT. There are countless rivalries in institutions and none of it is to be taken to heart. It’s not as though Morehouse students snub those from anyone at another HBCU. Clark Atlanta students claim their school too, and so what if a Spelman student or Morehouse student claims that their school ranks higher than another HBCU? It’s not an indictment but a fact. It’s just like a school boasting that they won a championship. They’re proud of their accomplishments. And the divide between elitist blacks and those that are impoverished are being worked on by who? Those people that you brand arrogant and pompous. We strive for our race and sometimes the attitudes are present but that’s because of individual pride that is not a product of the institution. Spelman and Morehouse like all other HBCUs are made to teach our people how to better and how to strive so that we can extend our hands to others and lift us up as a community and to those outside of our race. Spelman and Morehouse just tend to have stricter policies in presentation and conduct than some other HBCUs but having pride in their achievements is not wrong. It is an accomplishment to graduate from anywhere and I don’t know a single person who wouldn’t represent their alma mater with all heart and all pride. The banter is there between HBCUs but at the end of the day, they were all made for the same purpose, and where you go is your personal preference. I prefer Spelman some prefer Clark or Howard or maybe not an HBCU at all, but to toot my school’s blue and white horn, we’re all making “A Choice to Change the World.” Dont be so quick to judge.

  17. Sigh… I will have to re-read what DuBois had to say about the “talented tenth”, but I do not think he was out to promulgate an “elitist” philosophy. It was more in the spirit of the biblical injunction that states, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required…” There are no self-made men or women. All owe a debt of gratitude to those who came before them, who sacrificed for their betterment. Thus, the proper attitude should be one of humility and gratitude. Whether or not Morehouse graduates, on the whole, subscribe to such a spirit, I cannot say, as I do not know that many graduates of the institution. However, if I may pull from my own experience of being a graduate of Harvard, Black alumni that I know, while having a sense of pride in their institution, have nonetheless not forgotten the humble roots from which they came. They have not forgotten the debt they owe to society. And they strive to “give back” according to their capacities, resources, inclinations, and wisdom. There will always be those who are “elitist” in their attitudes, but I prefer not to condemn an entire community based on my encounter with a few who are wise in their own conceit.

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