Exploring Diversity at Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Implications for Policy and Practice

By Flowers, Courtney L. | The Journal of Negro Education, Spring 2018 | Go to article overview

Exploring Diversity at Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Implications for Policy and Practice


Flowers, Courtney L., The Journal of Negro Education


Exploring Diversity at Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Implications for Policy and Practice edited by Robert T. Palmer, C. Rob Shorette II, and Marybeth Gasman. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2015, 105 pp., $29.00 paperback.

Exploring Diversity at Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Implications for Policy and Practice uniquely examines the relevance of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) while also debunking impetuous myths that have come to define these institutions. More specifically, the book explores the narratives of non-Black students, White student enrollments, experiences of Latino/a students, the needs of LGBT students, as well as the need for HBCUs to broaden their scope of diversity. Distinctively, the authors argue that HBCUs do not only serve the Black, Christian, heterosexual community. Each chapter effectively frames experiential examples as well as provides professional perspectives and scholarly research to validate this pivotal concept in which the book holistically focuses on. In addition, each chapter provides diversity discourse and explores the current state and future implications of student enrollment and campus climate on HBCUs.

Chapter 1 serves as the foundation of the book by attempting to dispel five myths:

1. service to only Black students,

2. inclusion of only Black faculty,

3. exclusion of LGBT students and centers,

4. service for only Christian students, and

5. inability to advance higher education goals.

Addressing and dispelling these myths is the first step in providing an inclusive and comprehensive view of HBCU institutions. The urgency of debunking these myths is introduced in chapter 2, which focuses on dispelling myth 5 "HBCUs are unable to advance our nation's higher education goals" (p. 12).

Scholars and novices argue through research and social media the comparisons of an education at a HBCU versus a predominantly White institution (PWI; Amos & Burt 2015; Freeman 1999; Goode 2011; Jones, 2014) as chapter 2 attacks the notion of HBCUs being educationally inferior to PWI by highlighting statistics from the National Center of Education. For example, "88% of HBCUs are 4-year institutions, 59% offer graduate degrees, and 28% offer doctoral or professional degrees" (p. 19). Moreover, Lee highlights the comprehensive selection of degrees and majors offered at HBCUs. Each of these factors explicitly offers an essence of academic rigor which directly attacks myth 5

In addition, chapters 3, 4, and 5 helps to reframe the ultimate definition of diversity and its impact on HBCUs. By contextualizing the HBCU experience through exploring narratives of Caucasian staff members, Asian American and Filipino American students, as well as Muslim students the myths surrounding HBCUs only serving Black students, only having Black faculty, and Christian students were directly confronted in these chapters. …

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