Talladega, Trump and the HBCU Fight Against the Rise of Negro Mediocrity

It’s hard work to avoid earning a ticket onto the coon train.

It’s hard work to avoid earning a ticket onto the coon train.

Talladega College has raised more than $300,000 for its marching band to travel to and perform in the inaugural parade for president-elect Donald Trump. It’s widely speculated that a majority of the funding has come from Trump supporters, stemming from an appearance from Talladega President Billy Hawkins on a recent episode of ‘The O’Reilly Factor.’

Bill O'Reilly: The O'Reilly Factor - Band Bullied for Playing at the Inauguration
The marching band at an historically black college is under fire for playing at next week's Inauguration.www.billoreilly.com

The Tornadoes are going to the inauguration, and the school will stand to raise a lot of money as a result of the controversy. Black folks will be upset but eventually will move on. But Talladega’s story exposes a gaping hole in the sociopolitical narrative of HBCUs in the 21st century — the inability of black colleges to better set the rules of engagement for our campuses and communities.

A school with fewer than 1,000 students, there is little doubt that Talladega would’ve changed it’s entire website to promote an inaugural appearance for anyone else not named Trump. And everyone in the world who knows this story understands that the school can’t turn afford to down the publicity or the money coming in as a result.

Talladega needs both, along with the endorsement of its most famous alumnus and the one of the greatest HBCU presidents in history, to affirm that it has a right to remain open, while so many HBCUs which share its financial, geographic and academic profile face a real threat of closure in the next four years.

Hampton University's Harvey supports Talladega College's performance at Trump inauguration
The marching band of Talladega College, a historically black institution, will participate in President-elect Donald…www.dailypress.com

The Charles Koch Foundation, which has seen its own share of controversies within Black America, has committed more than $50 million to HBCUs over the last three years in support of the United Negro College Fund and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a notion that leaders from Koch and TMCF recently addressed.

Folks outside of our communities are buying the HBCU banner to fly over development strategies and ideologies which many in our communities do not share. It doesn’t matter if they are legitimately trying to help, or trying to buy votes, loyalty, silence, or anything else from the coffers of our racial pride and social autonomy; we simply can’t afford to quit them.

Just ask the CIAA.

In North Carolina, it Ain’t Easy Being Black, Gay, or the CIAA
Fairly or unfairly, standing by for racial warfare puts you on the wrong side of the battlefield.hbcudigest.com

This is what has Morehouse College Professor and social critic Marc Lamont Hill burning it up on CNN.

Negro mediocrity isn’t black folks who take meetings with enemies real and perceived; it’s negroes seeing the hell coming over the horizon and complaining that it is hotter now that it has ever been. Black American disengagement, not cooning, is what clears the way for some black people with money and influence to be convinced by white people with the same; regardless of their politics or intent.

This disengagement didn’t march in with Trump’s run to the White House, it has been happening for generations at individual, institutional and community levels. Its pervasive effects are abundantly clear at HBCUs, where policy work at federal and state levels in concert with the problematic elements of our unique corporate culture, is killing HBCUs with very little pushback from students, alumni, faculty or leaders.

Barack Obama and the $300 Million War on HBCUs
Four months after announcing his candidacy for president, then-Senator Barack Obama stood before a captive audience of…www.huffingtonpost.com

HBCUs and Obama: Strangers in the Silhouette of Blackness
Thurgood Marshall College Fund President and CEO Johnny Taylor today writes in the Washington Post on one of the last…hbcudigest.com

Dept of Ed ‘Predatory Colleges’ Program Could Harm HBCUs
Spurred by the Obama Administration’s effort to curtail student loan debt generated by predatory for-profit…hbcudigest.com

Performance-Based Funding is Slowly Killing Tennessee State, FAMU
States copy each other in systems to disrupt spending, eliminate low-performing institutions.hbcudigest.com

Where Have All The Black Women HBCU Presidents Gone?
And why aren’t male presidents getting the same treatment?hbcudigest.com

The Best Way to Defeat a Crooked HBCU Board
Give up and give its members exactly what they want.hbcudigest.com

Morgan State President is Pawn in Maryland Strategy to Undermine HBCUs
Last May, Morgan State University President David Wilson faced internal and public scrutiny over his plans to develop…hbcudigest.com

If Donald Trump decides to lower the annual Pell Grant allotment or denies schools from receiving financial aid disbursements for falling below performance standards, who is going to check him after it’s too late? Who is trying to check him before it comes to pass?

The key to countering Trump isn’t war with his politics or his efforts to change ours; it is reinforcing the urgency to develop our own. It is more than watching for marginalization of our culture, but making that effort secondary to cultivating our own power to prosper. Work falling below that standard isn’t black excellence, but the exact opposite.

So what is negro mediocrity? Black folks attempting to play ball with the enemy, or that the price of playing is one we can’t set, and a check we always have to take to the bank?