ANNISTON, Alabama, November 6, 2015 – Another homecoming season has come and gone, and yet another disappointing Morehouse College homecoming is in the history books.
I am a graduate of the best institution of higher learning for black women in this country: Bennett College. It is the place where I grew from a girl into a woman and where I made lifelong bonds with black women from around the globe, from different backgrounds, cultures, socioeconomic statuses, sizes, shapes, hardships, and world views.
Bennett College is steeped in rich history and tradition that has changed very little over time. It is also the place where I experienced one of my most memorable Mis(Adventures).
During freshman orientation, I was fed stories of how Bennett College was the constitutionally-bound sister school of Morehouse College, the college for black men. I was informed of the strong irrevocable bonds between Bennett Belles and Morehouse Men, and how the Morehouse College choir would travel to Bennett “back in the day” and perform for Belles around the holiday season.
I was also told of how, in return, all Bennett’s campus queens and alumnae would participate in Morehouse College’s homecoming festivities every year.
One of my favorite mathematics professors and mentors at Bennett is an alumnus of Morehouse, and he would go on and on about how amazing that bond was and how real Morehouse Men knew the real history between our two HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).
The annual ritual of Bennett students traveling to Morehouse College for homecoming weekend was one of the highlights of the school year, and I along with many other young Belles, took the five-hour bus ride from Bennett’s home in Greensboro, North Carolina to Atlanta, Georgia to be a part of the Morehouse Homecoming tradition.
As a sophomore I couldn’t wait to participate in a real homecoming. Being that Bennett is an all-women’s college, I never got the opportunity to attend college football games and other offerings of a bigger school.
Plus, my mother told me about a cousin of mine who attended Morehouse and encouraged me to reach out so that we could meet up while I was there.
He reached back.
“You go where?” he said.
“Bennett College, I’ll be there with my school for your homecoming in a couple weeks.”
“No, Bennett,” I corrected him.
“Oh, okay,” he replied, unenthused.
What should have been a red flag only fueled my excitement to proudly show everyone what my school was all about.
Once we arrived on the Atlanta campus, it turns out no one from Morehouse had heard of Bennett and we were quarantined to small sections out of the way of others, much like that molester uncle at the family picnic.
We were not wanted there and we were not welcomed there. And by welcomed I don’t mean being greeted with rehearsed lines and wooden dialogue because you are a member of the SGA or because you are obligated to because of your membership in some lame campus organization.
Instead, my fellow Belles and I made our own fun during this trip and had a great time with one another because we were literally all we had down there.
It’s a genuine hello that matters. A warm hug, let’s get to know each other, come sit with us, let’s dance, keep in touch, network, and actually include you in this thing called HBCU life because we will never get this opportunity again.
Now maybe we were looked at as “esteemed sisters” back when Lionel Richie was with the Commodores. But it wasn’t that way when I visited Morehouse, and it certainly isn’t that way now.
For example, in an extremely recent conversation with a guy, we started talking about school and more specifically HBCUs. The guy proudly tells me that he is a Morehouse Man as if he expected me to do a cartwheel or something in response to this revelation.
I said, “Oh, cool, I went to Bennett” and asked if he knew anything about my school.
He said, “Yeah you all were our original sister school before quietly being replaced. Y’all have some beasty alumni tho.”
First it’s alumnae not alumni.
Secondly, for a black man—or excuse me, a Morehouse Man—to refer to black women as beast-like—period—is unacceptable, and to refer to the alumnae of your supposed “sister school” as beast-like is heartbreaking.
I could go on about the things I’ve heard about “Morehouse Men” but it’s just not worth going that low down into the gutter.
He wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last. But I can’t fully blame this “brother” and those like him when low-hanging fruit is located right across the street.
What’s the point anyway of having a sister school located nearly five hours away?
That’s the story of how I realized I had no brother school a long time ago during that fateful trip to Morehouse’s homecoming, when I saw firsthand how my fellow Belles and campus queens were treated.
Bennett College still continues the tradition of sending young Belles down there to Morehouse every year, all of whom pay good money to be a part of Morehouse’s homecoming. For what? Tradition?
In a similar situation in the dating world, this would be the point of realization that “he’s just not that in to you.”
Let’s end this stupid tradition, because it’s totally one-sided, and should remain right where it already belongs—in the pages of history.
And let us Belles continue to dance in our own corner to our own beat, because that’s where the real party is. And please believe me, “it’s always lit.”