Higher Education Barriers for Black Students

Did you know, according to the “College Simply Statistics,” that Black students make up 17 percent of Cleveland State’s demographics?

Whereas, White students make up 64 percent of the population at CSU. 

Cleveland State is below average when it comes to overall diversity, and it’s unfortunate because, according to the “2016 Census“, Black people make up 51.6 percent of Cleveland, Ohio.

Taking a deep dive into college and Black History, we can determine that college is a luxury and that most Black Americans must work twice as hard as their white counterparts to even get an opportunity to attend one.

Education is a very important tool, yet Black students are deprived of it because of the embedded systematic racism in universities, colleges, and pre-college education.

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American Education after Brown v. Board

In May of 1954, after a long Supreme Court trial about whether Black children should be able to attend schools with white children or not, it was decided that segregated public schools were a violation of the fourteenth amendment, ruling in favor of Brown, deeming it unconstitutional, inhumane and cruel to keep black students from attending all-white schools. 

In 1960, after Ruby Bridges, a beautiful 6-year-old Black child, desegregated an elementary school, a whopping six years after the Brown vs. Board trial was ruled in favor of desegregation, you’d think that white Americans would be excited and proud to welcome Bridges into their school. 

That just wasn’t the case.

Bridges endured deliberate racism while entering her school every day. Many white parents removed their children from the classroom, harassed Bridges daily as she was escorted into the building, and only a single teacher agreed to teach her. She was forced to undergo something that would make most adults crumble to this day.

Black Historians had to work above and beyond in providing bills, laws, work-study, and experiences to build a better environment so their children and their children’s children could live a life where education was not a chore to obtain. 

Education should’ve already been something Black Americans were entitled to, just like white Americans are. Yet, Americans still struggle in 2023 to provide a society that creates a space where Black excellence is on top, and black success is emphasized to build an unstoppable economy and society. 

It was torn down and dragged to be done because White Americans would have rather kept their schools, hospitals, and other businesses separate than have a Black soul from being in their circle for centuries.

College degrees for all (if you’re not Black)

​College teaches critical thinking. It provides skills and academic intelligence that Black people lacked for centuries because white people considered them less than cattle. 

Black people started building their own historically black-owned universities and running them themselves, Wilberforce University (1856) being the first to ever do it, simply because they knew that white people would limit their success otherwise. 

1856 was 166 years ago. 

Only 166 years ago, and it wasn’t until the 1960s (roughly 57 years ago) black students were allowed to enter predominantly white colleges. So, it was not common at all for Black students to receive degrees or even go to college. Money, racism, and being Black were all major barriers to attending a college, and those barriers persist to this day.

It’s hard for you to talk about it, but it’s harder for them to experience it.

Most of the time, the lack of diversity goes on for so long because it is not considered a high priority on campuses. Universities pick a few Black faces to put in a brochure, add a vision statement that insists they have inclusivity, and then proceed to exist, focusing on what they feel makes their university stand out. 

If more people acknowledged the extraordinary amount of epic disappointment the education system has had in the lives of Black students, (lack of college resources, scholarships, support systems, etc.) the world would be a better place.

Next time you come across a Black student here at CSU, stop and ask them if they are okay. Take a moment and ask them to share their personal stories and backgrounds with you. Get to know them.

If you take the time to listen, you’ll be more passionate about February and Black History Month. You’ll wonder more often, if Cleveland State is doing everything they can to ensure that their 17 percent of Black students are acknowledged, supported and encouraged to keep going despite the overwhelming amount of problems they face to this day because of systemic oppression in education.

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