Okay, I had to take a deeeep breath on this one! As a graduate of an HBCU, I was initially conflicted by Bethune-Cookman’s decision to invite Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos of all people to deliver the 2017 commencement address; however, upon further consideration it’s probably not a bad idea.
We are inviting her to take a seat at our table for what I’m certain will be a first time. Mutual understanding is needed to compel change and that can’t be accomplished without dialogue.
With that said, I actually agree with Bethune-Cookman President Edison Jackson who defended the decision to invite DeVos. Saying, “When we seek to shelter our students and campus communities from views that are diametrically opposed to their own, we actually leave our students far less capable of combating those ideas,” Jackson said. “Additionally, the sheer diversity of our human family requires us to listen to and understand one another. We cannot, and we will not, ever accomplish this if we continue to exist in ideological, social and racial silos.”
He’s right! We can’t exist in our own world…I learned this the hard way. So let her come and feel uncomfortable like we often are forced to.
The Florida chapter of the NAACP asked Bethune-Cookman University this week to reconsider the invitation and to withhold an honorary degree for DeVos. The Florida Education Association circulated a petition Wednesday calling for the university to rescind the invitation. [Business Insider]
Lets hope the experience will enlighten her. If not, life goes on but we are better served facing our opposers than avoiding them. Attending a HBCU was wonderful for me but once I stepped into the workforce; I was most often surrounded by those in the majority. That alone can be daunting for some so I’m all for diversity in thought and exposure.
The honorary degree will be my only regret but if it somehow serves a better purpose, so be it.
Tags: HBCU, Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, Bethune Cookman, NAACP, President Edison Jackson, diversity