Let's Talk about Classism and Elitism at HBCUs

When racism isn't in the picture, how does classism and elitist attitudes affect Black students in Historically Black Colleges and Universities?


Since 2nd grade, Howard University has been my dream school--the crème de la crème of HBCUs.

Everyone around me boasted about the possibilities at Howard. The culture. The students. The opportunities. The fact that you could relate to so many people.

So why did I still feel like an outsider in my own HBCU?

Even in a virtual environment, I felt out of place. As a Black girl from Arkansas that came up in a single-parent household, I felt like no one could relate to what I had to go through--the fighting tooth and nail and the stress of having to pay enrollment fees and every fee under the sun. It seemed that Howard was a place of opulence, pop outs, and get-away trips out of the country "just because".

And some students, unfortunately, looked down upon lower income people here. Sometimes it was as subtle as mentioning their exclusive $5000 handbags (yes, that happened), and sometimes it was as blatant as bragging about living in expensive DC condos while students still lived with their parents.

I didn't understand; how could an HBCU still carry hidden biases and attitudes?

Enter classism and elitism.

In my second installment of my segment "The Bison Life", I wanted to get a lil more controversial and a little more candid when it comes to talking about my life as a Howard Bison.

The good, bad, and the ugly. This is the ugly.

But what is "classism" and "elitism"?

Classism is essentially the prejudice against someone from a particular social class--usually against someone of the lower class. Elitism is the belief that the elite--people with a higher intellect, social status, etc.-should be the governing class.

This can be seen in higher education in general, but for the purpose of this post, I want to explore ways classism and elitist attitudes are seen within HBCUs like Howard University.