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Jemele Hill: Black Athletes Should Leave White Colleges
Jemele Hill arrives to the Heavyweight Championship of The World "Wilder vs. Fury" Premiere held at Staples Center on December 01, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.
Michael Tran / Stringer / Getty Images

Former ESPN commentator Jemele Hill, the woman who sparked national controversy in 2017 when she referred to President Trump as a “white supremacist,” penned an upcoming piece for the October 2019 issue of The Atlantic in which she called for black athletes to have a mass exodus from white colleges.

Jamele Hill announced the article in a tweet on Thursday, which she titled, “It’s Time for Black Athletes to Leave White Colleges.”

“Very proud that my first magazine piece for @TheAtlantic is appearing in the October issue,” she tweeted. “Been working on it for some time. Here it is.”

So what does the piece actually say? Well, everything the title suggests: white colleges are oppressive places and black athletes should just get out.

“Black athletes have attracted money and attention to the predominantly white universities that showcase them,” she writes. “Meanwhile, black colleges are struggling. Alabama’s athletic department generated $174 million in the 2016–17 school year, whereas the HBCU that generated the most money from athletics that year, Prairie View A&M, brought in less than $18 million. Beyond sports, the average HBCU endowment is only one-eighth that of the average predominantly white school; taken together, all of the HBCU endowments combined make up less than a tenth of Harvard’s.”

The term HBCU used by Jemele Hill refers to “Historically Black Colleges or Universities.”

“Why should this matter to anyone beyond the administrators and alumni of the HBCUs themselves?” she continues. “Because black colleges play an important role in the creation and propagation of a black professional class. Despite constituting only 3 percent of four-year colleges in the country, HBCUs have produced 80 percent of the black judges, 50 percent of the black lawyers, 50 percent of the black doctors, 40 percent of the black engineers, 40 percent of the black members of Congress, and 13 percent of the black CEOs in America today.”

So, in essence, Jemele Hill argues that black people have to completely segregate themselves if they want a better shot of making it in America. Her applying this argument to black athletes is highly dubious, considering that black athletes thrive in professional sports, most of them having ascended from big-name universities.

Later in the article, Jemele Hill claims that black students feel generally safer “both physically and emotionally” while attending an HBCU, suggesting that racial segregation is the only way forward for black Americans.

“Some black students feel safer, both physically and emotionally, on an HBCU campus — all the more so as racial tensions have risen in recent years,” she writes. “Navigating a predominantly white campus as a black student can feel isolating, even for athletes.”

One athlete, Davon Dillard — a basketball player — even told Jemele Hill that he was able to let his “guard down a little bit” after attending the HBCU Shaw University.

“Going to a school where most of the people are the same color as you, it’s almost like you can let your guard down a little bit,” Dillard told Hill. “You don’t have to pretend to be somebody else. You don’t have to dress this way, or do things this way. It’s like, ‘I know you. We have the same kind of struggles. We can relate. It’s almost like you’re back at home in your neighborhood.”

Hill finishes her article with a couple of history lessons about how HBCU’s used to have a monopoly on black athletes before “white-dominated” colleges started to compete. If black athletes were to stick with just HBCU, she contends, then that golden age will return.

Read her full piece here.

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