“Why is the United Negro College Fund able to single out race when education in this country is supposed to be non-discriminatory? And why do people accept this as ok?” – Kelly Train
For years the black community was denied an education. We worked without payment, our labor stolen without recompense by slave holders. Ignorance was forced on the black community while white people were free to go to school and the white community was provided an education at the expense of the tax payer. When the white community no longer had the institution of slavery to keep black people in their subservient roles, it took advantage of the ambivalence of the general population to ravage black people who attempted to make something of themselves instead of keeping in the dominant culture imposed subservient position. The dominant culture used the concept of separate but equal to keep the status quo between black people and white people as wide as possible. Black people were denied an education by the dominant community for generations. It was through the efforts of institutions like the United Negro College Fund that some black people were able to buck the trend of imposed ignorance and obtained an education.
Now, in the twenty first century, thanks to a concerted effort by people who want to thwart any attempt to correct the generations of exclusion that has significantly damaged the black community in its effort to put racial discrimination behind us, black people are told that they should not expect any special treatment to compensate for the special treatment that white people have been receiving for centuries. Black people are forced to compete with white people who are more likely to come from schools much better equipped to provide a higher quality education than the schools in the traditional black neighborhood. In essence, the black community is on its own.
There are white communities across the nation that do their best to support their development. There are communities that do some of the little things like having bake sales to help their local school buy whatever they need. There are people leaving their entire fortunes to the school of their choice. The other day I saw an article on Sixty Minutes where a retired bachelor who never bought anything new for himself donated a million dollars to the local school so the children could have an Olympic sized pool for their swim team. I guess the old pool was too inadequate. Nobody is challenging these estates and asking what are they doing for black schools. Nobody is saying that half that money needs to go to the black community. White people have so many different venues available to them to financially support the education of other white people that it boggles the mind.
Who is helping the black community gain a foothold in the American dream? After so many years of black people being neglected and left to his or her devices in order to secure some kind of education the idea of a UNCF rubs some people the wrong way. It would be wonderful if this institution that was created to help young black people receive an education when virtually nobody else would was no longer needed. It would be nice if people all across America remembered to give a certain portion of the donation they make to white institutions of education to the black institution. But like most things that fall along racial lines, the financial donations to black institutions pales in comparison to donations to the ivy, or ivory, league schools.
People in the dominant community now want to point to the UNCF as proof of black people’s continued discrimination against white people. But this institution is not some nefarious organization designed to keep white people from gaining education. This is just one institution that is doing what it can to bring some kind of balance to an arrangement that is stacked to prevent young blacks from being able to succeed. Many people will argue that money should not keep black people who have the talent and the will to succeed from obtaining an education simply because their parents are unable to pay for their education or they don’t quite qualify for enough scholarships or grants or loans to cover the bill.
The UNCF is supposed to help meet the needs of black people to succeed. It is one of the few organizations that makes strengthening the black community a priority. It would be good to see for a fact that this organization is no longer needed. It would be good to believe that all things are truly equal. It would be good to believe that the institutions that make the funding of the white community’s education a priority would give the black community’s education a comparable share of their donations. But until then the black community needs as many institutions as it can that are focused on its educational needs.