back to black, part I

Updated: Jun 2, 2020


This article is Part I in a two-part series from Gerald Torrence on #hbcubacktoblack

If there were ever a clarion call for African American college bound students to reconsider their increasing predilection to choose white universities as their preference for higher education, it is now. The recent flurry of high profile incidents of racism, expose the underlying racist undercurrent and hostility toward African American students at white institutions of higher learning.

The noose hanging incident (April 1, 2015) at Duke University only days before winning the NCAA men’s basketball championship underscores the discrimination that black students and faculty endure on a regular basis at white colleges across this country. Shamefully, but not shockingly, the noose incident at Duke University is only one of several examples of blatant acts of racism including hateful speech occurring on the Duke campus directed at black students. In an MSNBC interview, a leading African American student at Duke profoundly stated the realities of black college life at white universities when he said that “the occasional display of public demonstrations of racism doesn’t bother me. What’s most concerning is the daily acts of racism that black students contend with every day.” Sarah Burks, another African American student at Duke, was quoted as saying “punishing the culprit will not change the culture of racism on campus.” She added that friends of hers also experienced racism at Duke.

The noose hanging from a tree outside the student center is only the latest reincarnation of a centuries-old symbol used to terrorize and intimidate black people by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups, and individuals seeking to deny equality to blacks. The fact that this potent symbol of racism and white supremacy is being openly flaunted on college campuses more than 50 years after the Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka speaks volumes as to the continuing resistance to black acceptance on white college campuses. Although the Brown case outlawed the doctrine of “separate but equal” and opened the door to integration in schools previously denying entrance to black students like Ole Miss, University of Alabama and others, it’s impossible to legislate morality and civility. The underlying culture of white supremacy and black inferiority is too deeply ingrained in the social and political fabric of this country. The United States of America was constructed with the building blocks of separate and unequal. Racism is in its DNA. Forced integration has not, and will never change the hearts and minds of those whose birth right and promise of prosperity, rests on the bedrock principles of European dominance and control.

The recent racist video chant at the University of Oklahoma by the white fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon members is another example of the volcanic eruption of racism at white colleges across America. The chant, “There will never be a nigger at SAE … You can hang them from a tree, but they will never sign with me … There will never be a nigger at SAE,” illustrates I believe, the true sentiments of whites with regard to black integration into white colleges and universities. These institutions are the bastions and gate keepers of Anglo/ European culture and white supremacy. The reaction to the video by OU President David Boren and head football coach Bob Stoops, was predictable and more than a little contrived. Their feigned outrage begs the question of motivation, and is consistent with this modern age of political correctness. After all, what could they say? Other than to condemn the racist acts as an anomaly, and not representative of the University as whole, there was no other viable response. Shortly after the incident became public, head coach Bob Stoops participated in a protest and “walk out” along with black OU football players and supporters. Stoops, of course is no dummy. He realizes that his livelihood and the millions of NCAA dollars that flow into the OU campus coffers, rests on the contentment and participation of the black athletes who comprise more than 85% of the starting lineup. This statistic is also true of the other major college football powerhouses. (Read "The New Plantation" here)

In these modern, ultra-competitive times, major sports programs can’t compete at the elite levels without the black athlete. They’ve tried and failed. Former University of Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant fielded mostly all white teams until the very end of his career. Bryant finally capitulated after other white universities began to saturate their teams with black players which resulted in a competitive advantage. Bryant then employed the old adage, “if you can’t beat them, join them.”

Wow! What a difference a few decades make. I can remember sitting in front of the television set as a small boy with my father and asking, “Daddy, who are you pulling for?” My father’s answer would invariably be, “I don’t know chief, which team has a colored boy?” It’s amazing how far we have come in the way of integrated college athletics, where now in the two major market sports of football and basketball, you are hard pressed to find a white player on the starting lineup. All the star players are black, and all of the coaches and athletic directors are white, with very few exceptions. Yet, what seems like a windfall for black athletes has actually been a financial windfall for white colleges and universities. Those same institutions that once vowed never to integrate have changed their tune and now openly court black athletes and tolerate the average black student non-athlete as a necessary evil.


Gerald Torrence is a lawyer, educator, writer, social and political activist, and motivational speaker living in Atlanta. You can find more insightful opinions from TheTruthTeller at You can follow Gerald on Twitter @tttspokentruth.



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