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Are Black Men safe going to college?

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“Are Black Men safe going to college?”

It’s a question that was posed to me at church on yesterday as a friend and I were discussing recent events that had taken place on college campuses.  We have all heard the stats about how many black men are incarcerated versus those that are matriculating through college.  But with recent accounts in the news, one has to wonder whether black men are safer in jail than they are in college.

Last week, Donald Wade Jr., a graduate of Life School in Oak Cliff and student at Prairie View A&M, died after jogging at Hempstead High School.  Wade was pledging a fraternity, and his parents are convinced that his death is the result of the initiation process.

Jasper Howard (Associated Press)

Jasper Howard (Associated Press)

Also last week, University of Connecticut football player Jasper Howard was stabbed to death just hours after the team defeated Louisville on the field.  Howard was killed after an on campus party.  His funeral is scheduled for Monday in Miami, two days after his team played an emotional game against West Virginia.

The list of Black men in college who die senselessly continues to grow.  The pursuit of an advanced degree seems to come with an inherent risk, as yet again black men are negatively affected at a disproportionate rate versus their peers.

Thinking back on my own days in college, I can’t help but remember the violent episodes that were a part of the experience.  Football players fighting with the frats.  Frats fighting one another.  Many parties were shut down early because this dude hit that dude, then his boys jumped in and it was on.  I remember some incidents more clearly that others:

  • Being up all night at a College Station hospital with a line brother who had been struck in the head by a cane.
  • Dodging a stampeding sea of humanity fleeing a brawl after a UT- Austin step show.
  • Ducking gunshots during an outdoor party at Prairie View

The list goes on and on.  Fights and gunshots were almost expected after a night at the club, but why were Black America’s best and brightest so intent on hurting one another on college campuses?  Students at Texas A&M can’t even have parties on campus anymore because of the inevitable violence that accompanied a school dance.  Fist to cuffs were as common place as the obligatory Biggie/Tupac master mix.

This is just a further extension of the culture of violence that has found its way into nearly every sector of Black American life.  Black boys can’t walk to school without fear of being targeted and now they have to think about whether or not college campuses are the beginning or the end.

Too many parents are receiving phone calls that the place where their child went to make a better life has ended up getting them killed.  Black fraternities who have done so much good for this nation and the African-American community continue to have blood on their hands far too often. Donald and Jasper should be in class today and I should be writing about something else.

But silence is not an option when it comes to violence in Black American.  We can’t allow our leaders to bury their heads in the sand or pass the buck.  If we don’t speak up, then the boys who are coming up now will enter the college of their choice with the same targets on their backs.

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