In Miami, I never got the black experience. If you know anything about the city, you know about 60 percent of the area is of Latin descent, according to the 2000 Census Bureau report. In many parts of the city people don’t speak English.
In grade school, Miami-Dade students learn about black history primarily in February, learning only about Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and Rosa Parks. It was easy to miss out on the “black experience.”
Students who chose to become Rattlers may have immediately had a culture shock. At FAMU, all students are required to take African-American Experience or African American History.
In those classes students learn things they didn’t know; like Africans doing Trigonometry, traveling to other continents and practicing surgery. Here, many professors place a large emphasis on the black experience.
After four years most begin to adapt to the atmosphere. Many FAMU professors spend a lot of time lecturing about black culture. But over the years, some students have found it a bit much . Could it be possible to have too much black history at an HBCU?
Recently, in a law class, a student confronted the instructor about his lectures being “pro-black.” The young lady, who was black, insisted the instructor was biased for not exploring all cultures.
She suggested he should “let go of the past” and “move on with the present.” She said the constant emphasis on the culture was hindering her education and there was more to the world than “our” history.
Although some students feel uncomfortable, some professors think it’s important to teach.
Jeffery Earl Mills, history professor, said blacks need to “re-understand our” story.
“The African American struggle was a beautiful struggle that brought unity, celebration, pride and faith,” Mills said.
So what should we expect at an HBCU? The misunderstanding may arise because our generation hasn’t experienced the difficulties our elders had, so the passion may not be as intense.
The black experience is a very special and unique one. It’s vital that students absorb and understand the knowledge shared by professors. How else would “our” stories be passed down to generations to come?