Category Archives: Lifestyle

The Wire Reimagined: From Gangsters To HBCU Leadership

I believe your reality is what you make it, what you choose to see, and what you choose to allow yourself to do. There are possibilities all around you – magic all around you – no matter what situation you’re in. – Keke Palmer

HBCU leadership. Who is protecting African America’s corners and towers? The corners representing the social, economic, and political capital that leads to the empowerment of a people while the towers represent the physical communities African America exist within. In the HBCU world of leadership there are many presidents and administrations that reflect in the behavior of The Wire. From those who want to form the New Day Co-Op so that HBCUs are stronger together with less friction and creating more opportunities to those who want nothing more than to wear the proverbial crown and are willing to destroy the community to do so. There is also the underlying reality that The Wire portrays brilliant minds, strategic thinkers, and ambition in African America that often gets wasted in a game that never creates institutional empowerment for African Americans. But what if those talents were redirected? If they were used to do just that, build the institutional empowerment of HBCUs and thereby strong African American institutional power. Based on their talents and characters what role would each of them play and why.

President: Slim Charles

In The Game: The Pawn who became a King/Queen. Slim Charles was the consummate soldier first serving the Barksdale Organization, then the lieutenant for Proposition Joe. He is the only one who truly sees Marlo as the threat that he is showing a keen sense of foresight. A sense of loyalty and code matched only by Omar Little, best exhibited when he kills Cheese to avenge the death of Proposition Joe.

HBCU Translation: Slim Charles is chosen to be an HBCU president because of his keen strategy abilities, intelligence, foresight, adaptability, and willingness to make tough decisions. His sincere desire to ensure what is best for the organization is at the foundation of his decision making versus his own desires makes him beloved and respected by all who serve under his leadership.

Provost: Omar Little

In The Game: The Robinhood of The Wire whose main occupation is robbing the drug kingpins. There are two moments when Omar’s acute intellect is highlighted. He is set to testify against Bird and there is an officer who is trying to complete a crossword puzzle about the God of War. Omar ultimately solves the puzzle for him recalling his early school days. He also best Levy, the white lawyer who serves seemingly as the lawyer for every drug kingpin in The Wire, who is representing the character Bird on a murder charge. In the exchange, Omar states simply that, “I got the gun, you got the briefcase. It’s all in the game though, right?” Omar squashes Levy’s notion that he (Levy) is absolved of his profiting off of the drug trade in Baltimore just because he is not in the streets. That they are both are profiting off the drug trade, as it just happens that Levy’s white privilege allowed him to attend good schools, live in a safe community, and eventually become a lawyer while Omar having the same mental capacity (if not more) was brought up in a toxic environment that often laid brilliance to waste.

HBCU Translation: As provost, Omar Little would help shape the learning environment and academics of an HBCU in ensuring that those who matriculated through the institution would leave no stone unturned to reach their full potential. He would oversee research, teaching, and service with vigorous passion. Provost Little would also use the institution’s strength to increase the strength of the African American PreK-12 pipeline that feeds into the HBCU.

Associate Provost: Brianna Barksdale

In The Game: She is the sister of Avon Barksdale and mother of D’Angelo Barksdale. While not seemingly playing a direct role in the Barksdale organization, it is always clear that she has the ear of Avon Barksdale and often is seen providing him with valuable advisement. After her son is murdered in jail and made to look like a suicide she continues to probe his death as the circumstances surrounding his death do not seem to quite add up.

HBCU Translation: While Omar is keen on the rigors of academic development for the students, Brianna sees to the nourishment and growth of their personal development. Ensuring that students develop the soft skills and maturation necessary to excel about matriculation.

Chief Financial Officer: Stringer Bell

In The Game: Was there anyone more focused on building the wealth of Barksdale and Bell than Stringer? While everyone was just relying on the economics of the corner, Stringer was taking economics classes at the local community college and engaging in entrepreneurship and real estate development. He ultimately believed that what was in the best financial interest of B&B was to move from retail to wholesale in Baltimore’s drug game. Stringer also understood that they were in a unique situation to be the “bank” of all the heroin that came into the city which would allow them to become impervious to law enforcement and therefore eliminating the risk to their lives or imprisonment. His desire to engage Clay Davis, albeit naively, showed that he understood that there was bigger money to be made. One could argue that had Stringer had his way, Baltimore ultimately would have been redeveloped by his desire for more.

HBCU Translation: With Stringer Bell as the CFO and head of the endowment, an HBCU would be ensured of a healthy financial future both today and for generations to come. Investment decisions would not be stuck in the past, but would constantly be forward looking. It can be argued that one of the major issues for HBCUs is their inability to be financially creative and benefit from new investments or even be financially aggressive with their endowments. If Stringer Bell is at the helm of the purse, rest assured his eyes would be on his HBCU competing with the Harvard endowment and nothing short of that would be acceptable.

General Counsel: Chris Partlow & Snoop

In The Game: The GOATS of drug land assassinations. Marlo Stanfield’s rise to the top simply does not happen without these two protecting his organization and its interest. Chris serving as the number two in the organization was even quite good at calming (as best one could be) Marlo’s hot temper. They were professionals, not just killers. The prophetic, “Get there early” was the mantra by which they operated their craft.  You simply did not get the drop on these two and once they set their sites on you the next time anyone would see you would be on a t-shirt.

HBCU Translation: It may seem strange at first that two enforcers would be serving as your legal counsel, but a good legal counsel protects and enforces an organization’s interest. These two will see that there will be no frivalous lawsuits against the school, nor bad contracts entered into by Stringer, and may often go on the legal offensive as Slim Charles sees fit in the best interest of the institution. They will provide the hard power to Government Relations soft power diplomacy.

Government Relations: Clay Davis and Maurice Levy

In The Game: Clay Davis arguably was the government and Levy understood the inner political workings of the governmental offices as well as anyone. It was Clay Davis who bamboozled Stringer Bell out of six figures of money and it was Levy who told him how Davis did it. Levy was also exceptional at getting intelligence and his clients often were always a few steps ahead of the government’s war on drugs efforts. Both were “veterans” of the machine and understood all too well that the true power was not in the streets, but in offices where decisions were being made by those who knew the language of diplomacy, lobby, and influence.

HBCU Translation: When it comes to local, state, and federal funding and policies impacting their institution nobody knows more than these two. They not only know what is happening before it is happening, but are also part of shaping what is going to happen. Part of their strategy involves the shaping of former alumni into future politicians who will be beholden to the school and its interest above all.

Vice-President of Research: Lester Freamon

In The Game: The unsung genius of The Wire. Lester was thought to be wise and intelligent police officer, but his work on helping crack Marlo’s organization code ultimately shows his true brilliance.

HBCU Translation: Building your HBCUs research structure needs the mind of someone who will spend countless hours doing so and that person is Lester Freamon. He integrates research throughout the entire institution from the groundskeepers to science labs. Ultimately, he and Stringer Bell work closely in helping the HBCU commercialize and profit from much of their groundbreaking research bringing in billions of dollars to the HBCU’s coffers for the creation of state-of-the-art labs and research facilities.

Professor of Aquaculture: Wee-Bey Brice

In The Game: Arguably one of the coldest killers in The Wire, Wee-Bey has a soft spot for fish. When he has to go “away” for a bit of time, he entrust D’Angelo Barksdale to look after them. Albeit, D’Angelo thought he was actually about to kill him.

HBCU Translation: On the school’s farm, Professor Brice leads extensive research on aquaculture, which is the breeding, raising, and harvesting fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants. A few of his students go onto form aquaculture startups, which find early investors from the school’s endowment, while others make their way into the USDA’s most prominent positions of leadership over the years.

Professor of War Gaming and Game Theory: Marlo Stanfield

In The Game: Marlo is the head of the Stanfield organization and ultimately the kingpin of Baltimore’s drug trade. He is ruthless and in many ways lacking almost any emotion along the way. He understands the moves necessary to wear the crown as it is called among Baltimore’s drug dealing community. The shrewdness and calculated moves to eventually get a line on Prop Joe’s connect and then eliminate him insuring he controlled the city’s supply would have found respect by even those at the Pentagon.

HBCU Translation: War gaming and game theory are not typically found at HBCUs, but this is a fictional HBCU and we believe that far more African Americans needs to learn the art of corporate and military strategy, both of which these fields cover. Understanding your own position, your opponents’ position, and the moves that will ultimately make you the victor are vital both individually and institutionally as our students graduate and go on to run African American institutions of their own. There is nobody better suited to teach them than Prof. Stanfield.

Dean of the Law School: Bunk Moreland

In The Game: Detective Moreland is a cigar smoking cop who grew up in the very neighborhood he now tries to solves murders in. His relationship, especially to Omar whom he was a few years ahead of seems to offer him a unique place in The Wire’s two worlds.

HBCU Translation: Dean Moreland may seem like an odd choice at first given that he not a lawyer, but as mentioned – he was from the community and that carries a special kind of weight to it. He still believes in the community and the people in it. At one point even chiding Omar on a park bench about how when they were younger the hardheads would not let him hang around so he would avoid trouble and stay focused on school and now the likes of Omar and other gangsters no longer uphold that level of honor. While he may not be your traditional law school dean, he is exactly what an HBCU law school needs. To realize that those African American lawyers are going to be more than just lawyers, they are going to be soldiers for their community on the legal battlefield.

Chair of the History Department: Proposition Joe

In The Game: Prop Joe was the wise elder statesmen gangster. He prided himself on always finding what we believed were win-win situations. But his true joy was knowing the history of the community.

HBCU Translation: Not only does he lead the history department, but he ensures that no student regardless of major leaves the institutions without a reverence for those that came before them. He teachers students, but also staff and faculty as well about the importance of ensuring students know the history of anything they are learning. You may see him leading a conversation on the African American history of math or nursing on any afternoon. He believes the cultural assets of the HBCU are vital to its success.

Director of Development: Malik “Poot” Carr

In The Game: There are few characters in The Wire who lived to see the END. Surviving in this context meaning both being alive and not in jail. Poot starts as a low-level drug dealer working in the Pit. Eventually rising to Bodie’s lieutenant as they formed their own crew. He has seen it all, been part of it all, and seemingly knows everyone.

HBCU Translation: The head of development’s job is to bring in the money from alumni and corporate sponsors and that is done through the building of relationships. Poot’s existence as both an alumni of the streets and then moving into corporate life at Foot Locker give him the relationships and skills to interact with both alumni and corporate to fill those coffers. He can tell the stories that alumni love to hear about the good old days and why their donations will help with the future.

Director of Academic Counseling: Howard “Bunny” Colvin

In The Game: Colvin is a cop for most of the series but eventually goes onto work with youth hoping to help turn their personal and academic careers around. His signature moment is visiting Wee-Bey in jail and asking him to “let go” of his son Namond and give him a chance to be successful at something else other than a gangster. That he has real promise in another world and no chance in his current one.

HBCU Translation: There is no doubt that with the proper resources he would assure that students were getting the academic and personal development necessary to thrive both while matriculating and thereafter.

Director of Alumni Relations: Preston “Bodie” Broadus

In The Game: Bodie is what one would call an independent contractor selling the dope of whomever has the most power. He prefers the Barksdale organization, but eventually falls under the thumb indirectly of Stanfield who begins to control the supply. Arguably one of the show’s favorite characters, everyone sees his potential beyond the street life and fighter attitude – arguably everyone except him. Easily could be so much more, but is committed to the life of the streets.

HBCU Translation: The HBCU alumnus who credits his HBCU for everything in his life that has been good. He was a diamond in the rough that was given the space to grow, mature, and find himself. Forever grateful to the institution, he decides to come back after working for a shipping and logistics company owned by a fellow HBCU graduate to head up the institution’s alumni relations. His ability to generate alumni fever is unmatched because of his deep desire and love for the institution.

Chief of Police: Brother Mouzone

In The Game: A legendary hitman was Brother Mouzone. A hired gun eventually for the Barksdale organization with deep connections to New York. He is able to stem the tide of market share loss for the Barksdale organization as the Stanfield organization and others encroach on their territory. His ability to dissect situations intellectually and keep a level head at all times makes him revered in the streets.

HBCU Translation: What is an HBCU Chief of Police’s job? Is it just to be another police force? No, HBCU police chiefs carry a special role of protecting a Black space and ensuring its safety in a world that constantly has them under attack. Chief Mouzone would most likely have intelligence units operating at all times gathering intel on any potential threat to students or the institution. If necessary, he will even take offensive action with the permission of leadership should it call for it. The institution and the area around it would become a sanctum of safety.

Athletic Director: Avon Barksdale

In The Game: The head of the Barksdale organization. Avon is well respected in the streets (and in jail). It is clear that Avon’s youth was spent in sports and athletics. Cutty eludes to a time when Avon was a golden gloves champion, but Avon explains his career was cut short due to a physical limitation. Avon invests $15,000 into Cutty’s boxing vision and directs him to take care of the little ones.

HBCU Translation: Avon truly understands the power of sports in the community. He possesses a certain charisma that people are drawn to which will make his ability to build corporate relationships and bring in quality coaches. Never losing the bigger picture, he realizes that the athletic department is just a small piece of a wholistic institution. As quick as anyone to not allow the fanaticism to rule. He keeps a heavy hand on graduation rates, discipline, and ensuring that the department serves as true ambassadors for the institution’s image.

Men’s Head Coach: Dennis “Cutty” Wise

In The Game: Once a legendary enforcer, Cutty gets out of prison and for a period of time goes back to the streets only to realize his heart is no longer in it. He wants to work with youth sports and help mold and shape young boys and men before they see death or prison.

HBCU Translation: Coach Wise does not just care about wins and losses, in fact they are acutely secondary. His most proud accomplishment is his athletes graduation rates. He prides himself on his athletes strong discipline, high character, and achievement in the classroom.

Women’s Head Coach: Shakima “Kim” Greggs

In The Game: A detective who is one of the strong voices and characters in the show as the police force tries to bring down the city’s drug and violence problem. Able to hold her own in any situation. While being a secondary character in many respects, in a show with few women leads, Detective Greggs always shines and is a force to be reckoned with when shown.

HBCU Translation: Coach Greggs is a no nonsense coach who demands her players push themselves beyond their limits. They are required to sit in the front of class, volunteer in the community, and be disciplined. She coaches to win and dominate.

Head of Facilities & Groundskeeping: Reginald “Bubbles” Cousins

In The Game: Bubbles is often described as intelligent and caring person within the community and ultimately one of its many victims of the heroin trade. A heroin addict himself, Bubbles has a knack for being on the “scene” at opportune times. This allowed him to be one of the police more reliable sources of information throughout the series.

HBCU Translation: As head of facilities and groundskeeping, he is one of many redemption stories among HBCU staff and one of its unsung heroes. He is the type to make sure a hungry kid gets fed or lets a promising student into a building to work on a project after hours. These stories and many like it are what makeup the foundational fabric of HBCUs, their students, faculty, and staff having an important role in the success of the institution. Bubbles prides himself on taking care of the buildings and the grounds as part of giving and creating the type of environment that students and faculty can find peace and thrive in.

SGA President: Namond Brice

In The Game: A charismatic kid who was never really built for the street life, but is bullied into it by his mother. Eventually saved by Bunny Colvin who sees his potential to be more and allowed to leave the street life by his father’s Wee Bey’s blessing who overrides his mother’s sentiment who believes the only life for her family is the street life.

HBCU Translation: Namond has an oratory gift and is extremely well-liked and respected student at his HBCU. He becomes SGA president during his matriculation and is a student-leader and ambassador for the institution.

Valedictorian / President of the Philosophy Club: Michael Lee

In The Game: The next generation of brilliance in The Wire. There is no one who questioned the game and its rules more than Michael. He is often chastised by his handlers for not just doing what he was told. Michael has serious problems with the way life and death is decided in the community, but is always intelligent enough to be one step ahead of those who would suck him and throw him away just as easily. He is often seen as a reluctant leader until the end where many argue he takes over as the new “Omar” in the community.

HBCU Translation: Michael leads mostly by example and takes his studies seriously. He is seen engaged in late night debates in the dorms with his fellow classmates. A PhD is definitely in his future, but not before he takes a few years after graduation traveling the world and learning the philosophies of Africa’s great scholars.

Ultimately, the purpose of this reimagining is to show and highlight just how much talent there is in the African American community and how much of it goes to waste due to poor institutions. That so many brilliant minds never get the opportunity to be part of building our community and our institutions into something greater. Poor institutions produce poor individuals and create a vicious cycle, but make no mistake about it – the talent and ability is there. Unfortunately, the resources and opportunity usually are not. However, this should not be taken as a message to then “get out” of our communities and into other’s spaces where we have no ownership and just end up being the talent that builds for other’s benefit. Instead it should be a call that we have to do things different and imagine different. Can we imagine a world where we are empowered? Where are most brilliant minds build up our institutions for our community’s benefit. That we can compete on the fields of power the world over. Imagining the New Day Co-Op as an investment firm of pooled resources by the business leaders of the community who then invest in startups, real estate development of the Baltimore harbor, build new African American schools, hospitals, research facilities that would make John Hopkins blush, and other institutions that are ours. After all, as the vice-president of research Lester Freeman once said, “We’re Building Something, Here, Detective, We’re Building It From Scratch. All The Pieces Matter.”

HBCU LOVE: Top Ten HBCU States With Highest African American Marriage Rate

Why is HBCU Money talking about marriage? We thought this was a site about money. Well, there are many economists and community developers that agree that one of the most fundamental ingredients to wealth building is marriage. It allows for scaling of capital towards savings and investment, reduction of expenses, and an ability to provide familial stability. Unfortunately, like our median income and wealth, there is no group less likely to actually get married than African Americans. The hurdles to African American marriage are deep and complicated and the solutions to them potentially even more deep and complicated. All that said, anything that leads to higher marriage rates between African Americans can only add to the community’s ability to actually stabilize and empower itself socially, economically, and politically. We of course acknowledge that marriages come in all forms, but the most important form is a healthy, happy, and loving marriage.

National African American Marriage Rate – 29.7%

  1. Virginia – 34.0%
  2. Maryland – 33.2%
  3. Delaware & Texas – 32.8%
  4. Florida & North Carolina – 31.3%
  5. Georgia – 30.9%
  6. Oklahoma – 30.0%
  7. Arkansas – 29.8%
  8. California – 29.7%
  9. Alabama & South Carolina – 29.4%
  10. Mississippi – 28.9%

The question then becomes how can HBCUs, their alumni, and other support organizations encourage more marriage among African Americans at HBCUs? This becomes vital for HBCU’s future because it could be suggested that a couple who both went to HBCUs would be more likely to send their child to an HBCU. Whereas a couple with only one HBCU parent present or no HBCU parents present is far less likely. To encourage coupling as part of an HBCU’s development strategy would by no means be simple given the ratio of women to men on HBCU campuses these days. Simply put, there are not enough men for women to choose from in the heterosexual relationships. And unless more data is collected on LGBTQ HBCU students, there may not be a viable quantity there for them either. This is why it would be important if this was to be considered that a network of HBCU development offices strategize together and increase the probability of matchmaking.

Tracking the statistics on HBCU marriage and family would also be immensely valuable information. An opportunity that certainly presents itself for further research by Hampton University’s National Center on African American Marriage and Parenting. Very little data is actually known on HBCU marriages and families.

Ultimately, HBCUs and their alumni though who can encourage more marriage among HBCU students/graduates must do so through ensuring those relationships are healthy. This means that there must be more mental and physical health development, financial literacy, and relationship etiquette taught. With seven of the ten HBCU states exceeding the national average for African American marriage the ingredients are certainly there for this seed to grow, but it indeed must be watered if we truly plan to see more marriage and healthier marriage which we know can also be one of the key tenets to community formation and building.

Source: U.S. Census

If Football Is Killing Black Boys, Then Why Are HBCUs Participating?

“If you are an adult and — as a physician and a pathologist — I educate you on the dangers and risks of some activity, like smoking or playing football, and you make up your mind to play, I would be one of the first to stand by you to defend your right,” he says. “Even if you take a gun [and] place it on your head to shoot yourself, you have the right to do that. This is America. But as a modern society, I believe we are morally bound to protect the most vulnerable — our children —like we have done with smoking.” – Dr. Bennet Omalu

The NFL has arguably made more African American men millionaires than any other organization in America. Perhaps even more millionaires than even African America men have made themselves in all other non-entertainment industries, but that is a problem to discuss for another time. Football, may also be the leading cause of brain damage for African American boys and men. Let us say that again, football, where many African American boys start playing as early as parents believe they can, may also be the leading cause of brain damage for African American boys and playing a key role in their educational underachievement. America’s most popular sport grabs African American boys as early as five years old and begins the process of violently running them into each other and as they grow up the speed and viciousness of those collisions grows exponentially. This is of course well before the male brain becomes fully mature at the age of 25.

There is immense amounts of research that has been conducted on the post-playing career health issues that many former NFL players face. In an article by Mackie Shilstone for 4WWL he reports, “According to “Musculoskeletal Injury History Is Associated with Lower Physical and Mental Health in a Historic Cohort of Former National Football League players”, which appeared in the June 2021 issue of the Journal of Sports Rehabilitation, “as a collision sport, American football has a high risk of serious physical injury. Data from the National Football League (NFL) indicate that up to 68% of NFL players may be injured in a season.” The article cites a study by University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Duke Cancer Institute, Durham, NC, and Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, “among this historical cohort of former NFL players, over 90% reported sustaining at least one musculoskeletal injury during their professional careers. Respondents self-reported that many of these injuries required surgery, resulted in their professional playing careers prematurely ending, and still affected them. The additional findings highlight the large percentages of NFL players reporting surgery (60.7%), a premature end to their professional football career (40.3%), and still being affected by injury (74.8%), further augment the concern about the effects from musculoskeletal injuries on overall functioning across the lifespan,” commented the investigators.” The Washington Post in an internal survey of former NFL players in 2013 reported, “Nine in 10 said they’re happy they played the sport. But fewer than half would recommend children play it today. Nine in 10 former NFL players reported suffering concussions while playing, and nearly six in 10 reported three or more. Two in three who had concussions said they experience continuing symptoms from them.” The damage on these men’s health and brains playing football for most of them over 20 years of their life and during the formative years of their brains primary development is truly astounding. As it pertains to youth football’s damage specifically, “A CDC study published in Sports Health reports youth tackle football athletes ages 6 to 14 sustained 15 times more head impacts than flag football athletes during a practice or game and sustained 23 times more high-magnitude head impact (hard head impact). Youth tackle football athletes experienced a median of 378 head impacts per athlete during the season versus 8 in flag football.” That means an African American boy participating in youth football is experiencing 1.04 head impacts per day for an entire year if they were evenly spread out, but we know the season is not a year long which means the bulk of those impacts come in very short windows and in abundance. And yet, there is so much more we do not know.

We do not know what happens to brains that have played football from age five to twelve and how it impacted their long-term cognitive development. There have been millions of Black boys who never make it playing football beyond high school or college, but have just as likely suffered acute brain damage along the way for decades. African American boys have the lowest high school graduation rate and the highest participation rate in youth football K-12. Coincidence? Perhaps, but not likely and even the mere suggestion of it seems too upset many diehard African American football fans who see football as a path to American delusional meritocracy. Are there other factors at play impacting African American education? Certainly, but African American girls are experiencing much of those same systemic realities. One of the major differences though is football and arguably the brain damage that degrades African American boys minds collision after collision and concussion after concussion for as long as that boy plays, but the echoes and reverberation of the damage echoes for much longer. Potentially causing damage in the brain’s fragile state that may never be repaired. While we do know the health implications are grave and acute, we do not know to what extent. However, we do know that the social and economic costs have been and continue to be immense.

In every educational statistic, African American boys are either last or next to last (Latino/Hispanic boys being the only other option and that gap is starting to widen). Resources that could be and should be pouring into African American boys education from early childhood are instead poured into sports. Money being raised to participate in youth sports is money not being spent on education or education supplement. A few troubling statistics from a 2015 Education Week article showed, “Black boys are more likely than any other group to be placed in special education classes, with 80 percent of all special education students being Black or Hispanic males. A U.S. Department of Education report found that in schools with at least 50 percent Black students, only 48 percent were certified in the subject, compared with 65 percent in majority white schools. In English, the numbers were 59 and 68 percent, respectively and in science, they were 57 percent and 73 percent. In 2014, the Black Star Project published findings that just 10 percent of eighth-grade Black boys in the U.S. are considered “proficient” in reading. In urban areas like Chicago and Detroit, that number was even lower. By contrast, the 2013 National Assessment of Education Progress found that 46 percent of white students are adequate readers by eighth grade, and 17 percent of Black students as a whole are too. The achievement gap between the two races is startling, but the difference between the NAEP report on Black students as a whole and the Black Star findings of just Black boys is troubling too. It is not simply Black children in general who appear to be failing in the basics – like literacy; it is the boys. Black students make up just 18 percent of children in U.S. preschools, but make up half of those youngsters who are suspended. Black boys receive two-thirds of all school suspensions nationwide – all demographics and both genders considered. By 18 years of age, 30 percent of Black males have been arrested at least once, compared to just 22 percent of white males. Those numbers rise to 49 percent for Black men by the age of 23, and 38 percent of white males.” Between special education, illiteracy, and discipline, there are certainly arguments for systemic attacks on Black boys, but there is also internal community conversations about the allocation of resources we pour into our boys to counter those issues. Instead, we are pouring resources into a sport that is compounding the issues.

Then there is the damaging psychological impact on Black boys’ mental health. William Rhoden in his book $40 Million Dollar Slaves describes that impact in these terms, “Though integration was a major pivot in the history of the black athlete, it was not for the positive reasons we so often hear about. Integration fixed in place myriad problems: a destructive power dynamic between black talent and white ownership; a chronic psychological burden for black athletes, who constantly had to prove their worth; disconnection of the athlete from his or her community; and the emergence of the apolitical black athlete, who had to be careful what he or she said or stood for, so as not to offend white paymasters.” Black boys from as early as they show any modicum of athletic talent (and in a lot of cases even when they do not) are taught their bodies are all that matter. Football especially takes the approach that more instinct and less thinking is better. It encourages aggression, which of course are great on the football field, but not in classrooms, communities, and relationships. Unfortunately, Black boys are rarely given the chance to be well rounded with things that allow them to think and develop healthy expression so that they know when to turn on and off that aggression. Instead, they operate in life like a bull in a china shop and the African American community suffers the consequences. Unless of course they show exceptional talent that major college football and NFL teams can profit off of and then they are given a pass for their toxic behaviors further incentivizing African American boys to want to invest their time into the sport. And if everyone else is profiting off of it, then why should HBCUs be any different? If African America loved Black boys, then HBCUs would be different.

HBCUs in a lot of ways parrot what PWIs do. Our models at HBCUs are rarely African American centered. While the student body may be predominantly African American, the agenda and the mission objectives are rarely so focused on the empowerment of African America’s social, economic, and intellectual interests. Deion Sanders at Jackson State, to no fault of his own, has renewed a falsehood that many HBCU alumni believe – if the football talent that went to PWIs came “home” to HBCUs, then the financial windfall would be the answer to our prayers. HBCU alumni ignore all of the realities of things like boosters’ wealth, affluent and large alumni bases (Penn State University has approximately 700,000 living alumni) that attract multimillion dollar sponsorships, businesses owned by alumni who provide all types of indirect monies into these programs, and lastly the anti-Blackness that many PWI programs and their leadership operate with treating Black athletes as nothing more than a commodity to be used and thrown away like an orange for their Sunday morning breakfast. The SWAC/MEAC spent $213 million in expenses as of 2019-2020 on their athletic programs, while only generating $52 million in revenue (without counting student subsidies). It is safe to say that the bulk of that money goes to football – just like every other college and university. Perhaps we think that more players going to the NFL and getting drafted will result in more large donations to our institutions. Historically, athletes have never been the major donors to any college or university. The largest donors to colleges and universities have been, continue to be, and will be those who have founded, own, or have some sort of business wealth. Phil Knight, the owner of Nike, in 2021 was the second largest donor to a college and university (an anonymous donor was number one), donating $500 million to the University of Oregon. Knight and his wife have donated over $1 billion in total to the university over the years. An amount greater than any HBCU endowment. So instead of chasing a bridge to nowhere, what could HBCUs be doing with more of their athletic budgets?

HBCUs could be redeploying a consequential amount of that $200 million into programs that would significantly impact the K-12 pipeline for which many African American boys treacherously traverse as mentioned. It would even help to support the number of African American young men they have on their campus where there is also a major enrollment and graduation gender gap. Ensuring that increasing the graduation rate among existing HBCU men would be highly prudent. Many HBCUs have a significant case for starting and founding their own K-12 school system, which would increase the pipeline of African American students into their institutions and would especially allow for African American boys to be seen as something to be cultivated intellectually instead of just physically. The notion that we could do something more impactful for African America rather than give it more of something that we do not need and is ultimately detrimental to our community development seems to be a comfort zone that we are unwilling to breach or even have a rational conversation about. The brain damage to African American boys who then suffer from notable academic achievement has had acute consequences on family formation in our community because African American women are in mass unable to find intellectually and economically equitable partners in African American men who once the cold water of their pro athlete dream is doused wander in a proverbial desert. Along with a community that desperately needs more Black boys to become doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, and ultimately men who are capable both physically and mentally available. All things it is arguably we are complicit in taking away from them. So if HBCUs are truly to be institutions for African America’s empowerment, then we must – absolutely must – do everything we can do to save African American boys, even from ourselves.

Love & Financial Compatibility: 4 Questions You Should Ask BEFORE Becoming An HBCU Couple

“Whatever you into, your woman gotta be into, too, and vice versa… or the [thing] ain’t gonna work. lt ain’t gonna work. That’s right. lf you born-again, your woman gotta be born-again, too. lf you a crackhead, your woman gotta be a crackhead, too… or the [thing] won’t work. You can’t be like, ”l’m going to church, where you going?” ”Hit the pipe!” That relationship ain’t going nowhere, but two crackheads can stay together forever.” – Chris Rock

We all know the statistics. The number one cause of divorce is MONEY. And why it is money comes in all kinds of forms from a partner who does not help with the bills, disagreement about financial roles, spends too much, disinterested in their financial future, takes too much risk with the money they have earned (or too little), and the list goes on and on and on. For African Americans money is even more complicated when it comes to partnering. African Americans are dead last in median income, median wealth, and the only ethnic group where the women outnumber the men in employment. All of which leads to an already complicated issue of partnering with someone for the long-term even more so. Money brings about extremely strong emotions in people and African Americans are no exception. In fact, one could argue that because are financial situation is so dire that it adds even more stress and complexity than most. The majority of us are brought up with the stresses of money as the only conversations about money we have ever overheard – because we certainly were not allowed to participate in family conversations about money besides, “put that back, you know we can not afford that”. That along with a strong religious undertone of money being the root of all evil it is no wonder that the median net worth of African Americans has not moved in over four decades and is by some accounts trending downwards. So who you partner with and their attitudes towards money, as Chris Rock so eloquently put it, need to be aligned. We decided to put together four questions to help you determine whether the he, she, or they is right for you. A clarity you should try your best to establish before you even enter into a relationship.

If you had to pick a number, how much would you like to be financially worth? Do not let them be vague on this. They can not say rich, wealthy, or comfortable. There has to be a number. Rich, wealthy, or comfortable means very different things to different people. Two people can say they want to be rich, but one thinks that means being worth $5 million and the other may think that means $50 million. The further those numbers are apart or closer together will give you some valuable insight.

Why do you want to be worth that much? This is vital to give you insight on a person’s priorities. If they tell you they want to be able to buy whatever they want, acquire all the latest fashions, travel the world, they want to be able to send their children to the best schools, or they want to donate $25 million to their HBCU over their lifetime. This questions will all give you insight to their motivations and if those motivations align with yours.

Would you be willing to live with our parents, have roommates when we got married, or share a car for a few years? This is a question of sacrifice gauging a person’s sacrifice level. How badly do they want to get to that number to do that thing they said they want? The early years of financial sacrifice for a couple make all the difference in the world and while many say they want to achieve something, many are not willing to do the hard and uncomfortable things

What is your risk tolerance? Risk. Reward. They go hand in hand when it comes too investing and financial building. If one of you wants to start a business and the other just wants to save money in your savings account, then you are world’s apart when it comes to risk. There are obvious compromises to risk. Perhaps you agree to hit a certainly dollar amount in your savings account before pursuing business. Or perhaps you agree that owning a rental property portfolio is the middle ground. Whatever it is, your risk tolerance needs to be understand and agreed upon. This is particularly important because things can and often will go wrong, that is why it is called risk. When it does go wrong does it create a wedge between the two of you or does it cause you both to dig in and work together through it?

In the end, it is often hard for people to talk about money when they meet someone they like. It is even harder to realize that your financial views maybe so far apart that you simply do not make a good team and at the end of the day to be financially successful it requires teamwork. One of you can not be playing basketball and the other playing soccer. Financial goals being aligned will dictate so much of how you live your lives that to not have them aligned is a sure fire way to kill a relationship and yet many people do not think to discuss money until after they are together and sometimes not even then. They do not realize the detriment of differences until it rears its ugly head. In this new era of mental health, make sure you discuss what it will take to have financial health as well.

The Cookout of Cookouts: Teddy Riley vs. Babyface & The HBCU Takeaway

The cookout of cookouts finally happened. Teddy Riley and Babyface came together and gave us everything we wanted and more. Yes, there were still some old black man technical difficulties, but ultimately, over 500,000 Instagram accounts logged in to watch – MAGIC. These two legends have produced, written, and been at the helm of creating hundreds (if not thousands) of undeniable hit records. The financial value of their catalogs possibly exceeds $1 billion. The music, event, and the gentlemen themselves provided a world of observations to behold. We tapped a few of our favorite HBCU intellects on their take from the night and what if anything they believe HBCUs could take away from such an amazing night for the culture.

Christen Turner, Alumnae of Spelman College, Founder of Matchmaking for Millennials & Janelle T Designs, @isthatchristen

“The battle itself was amazing. Never thought I’d feel so connected to my people through a social media platform. With that being said, we have to figure out a way to create our own hugely successful platforms AND/OR get a cut from the platforms that we literally keep relevant.”

Brandon Bellamy, Alumnus of North Carolina A&T State University, Associate Director (Student Services) and Adjunct Professor at Howard Community College, @ProfBellamy

“Like HBCUs, the Teddy Riley vs Babyface battle faced adversity from within, but also from external threats. Both artists brought an exceptional background, respect and similar perspectives on the transcendent nature of music. They are competitors in their work, but contemporaries like DuBois and Washington, whose approaches to the purpose of education varied – but the goal was the same, the improvement of our people. HBCUs can learn from this battle that there is nothing wrong with competition, but we must also be able to work together and strive for the common goal of success for all through education.”

Dr. Keneshia Grant, Alumnae of Florida A&M University, Author & Assistant Professor of Political Science at Howard University, @keneshiagrant

“On Monday night, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds came to Instagram to slay prepared to remind the world of his distinction in music. When Babyface’s preparation was met by Teddy Riley with a lack thereof, he calmly stayed the course and encouraged Riley to rise to the occasion. HBCUs could learn two important lessons from last night’s battle (and by battle, I mean tutorial in genius, excellence, and professionalism—taught exclusively by Babyface). First, professionalism in the presentation and delivery of our work is as important as the work itself. Second—and critical to many HBCU missions—we must balance patience and maintenance of high standards in our interactions with others (people, organizations, other HBCUs, etc).”

William A. Foster, IV, Alumnus of Virginia State University & Prairie View A&M University, Economist/Financier & Founder of HBCU Money, @astroeconomist

“It was an extraordinary night. For those of us who grew up with these two men, having them together in these times – I am not sure we could have asked for much more, technical difficulties aside. I will say for a budding HBCUpreneur, especially in technology, these moments have provided a clear opportunity for a need to provide a platform for moments such as these given the numerous issues and limitations. If I was managing an HBCU’s endowment, I would be courting them (Teddy Riley & Babyface) to see if they would donate a percentage of their catalog. Even a small percentage of the royalties would bring in millions over the years from these living legends.”

Charlyn Anderson, Alumnae of Howard University, Founder of Starting With Today, @startingwtoday

“But what immediately came to mind is too often our institutions (HBCUs) are compared to the bells and whistles of PWIs when the actual core of our education is stronger even in its simplicity. The lack of the extraneous has often worked to the benefit of the HBCU community because they don’t rely on bells and whistles as props but actually prepare to execute consistently on a high level regardless of amenities. Clearly siding with BabyFace, and even with that knowing your value and who you are brings a certainty in all spaces that doesn’t require you to move outside of your lane for approval and validation.

Marcus King, Prairie View A&M University, Founder of Hardly Home, @marcuskxng

“I’d like to say it’s another example of the need to elevate and promote a younger and more technologically advanced workforce to meet the needs of today’s digital world… but I’m a dreamer…”

Ultimately, there will be a lot to take away from this pandemic. There will be a plethora of academic studies that will need to be done, entrepreneurial opportunities, and HBCUs should try their best to be at the vanguard of them for our community. Moments like this are case studies that can help us learn, prepare, navigate, and shape the post-Covid world that we will eventually find ourselves in. Teddy Riley and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds gave us an amazing evening from the chaos outside, lessons within, and as always music to fill our souls with.