Guests of the Inner Sanctum

What’s It Like Being a White Guy at an HBCU? Dominic Ripoli Explains.


I applied for the girl, came for the money. That’s how this black and white story starts. I applied to Howard University because I was dumb struck in love with a beautiful black woman, and I ultimately attended because I got a minority scholarship. As a white boy who just happened to stumble into an HBCU (historically black college/University) I would have never thought how being a minority would benefit my life.

I will try to illustrate what it is like being a white boy at an HCBU, specifically Howard University. Imagine yourself as less than 1% of the demographic; you notice that people are STARING at you all the time. You feel that everyone expects you to deliver something respectable, whether it is a question for your professor or how you respond to awkwardly racial social situations. Fortunately for me I embraced the challenges that Howard presented for a white boy.

In all honesty Howard was the best experience of my life. The environment at Howard is so electric and fluid. If you find yourself bored at Howard, it’s only because you refuse to go outside of your room. But, you will hear this from anyone who attended Howard University, along with their complaints about the A building, the administration and dealing with financial aid issues. I want to tell you what I took away from Howard University as a white boy.

I learned that the social construct known as race is extremely pervasive in the black community. The idea that there are black people and that there are white people. This is a fundamental pillar at Howard. No matter where I went being black came up in every class. Calculus, biology, computer in the arts, were all classes that had a discussion about what it meant to be black during normal class hours. However, that doesn’t mean they weren’t valuable discussions, and I am not certainly trying to bad mouth. My point is that “being black” was visceral at Howard. Everyone knew what it was, but nobody knew what it meant. I learned that there are so many different “black” perspectives and voices, that even being an HBCU, Howard was a mecca of cultural diversity and philosophies. You had your extremists who knew that the white man was behind “everything”. You had your gay conservative tea party members. (yes that person was black too) You had the hipster privileged who came to Howard so they could “know” what it meant to be black. Then you had someone like me. The lone white person in the classroom whose California sass and hyperactive opinioned mind became a campus wide name.

Being an intelligent independent minority was a great role for me. It gave me plenty of attention while at the same time allowed me to stretch and expand my comfort zone. For anyone who loves black women, Howard University is like the gem mine in Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. (if you don’t know what I am talking about click here) I saw a new dime piece every single day I was at Howard. So you can imagine how I felt when I read an opinion piece in The Hilltop, Howard’s school paper, discussing interracial dating. (Now known as intercultural) There were two sides, a female and male one. The male explained that he felt black men preferred white women because they were more docile. That black females are just too hell bent on “she’s gotta have it”. The female discussed how she could never date a white man since she would be reminded about how his ancestors raped her ancestors. Then at the end the female gives examples of strong black men who had strong black women by their side and that the black community needs to get back to its roots.

Well I decided that there was an important demographic that was not being represented in this discussion about intercultural dating. I wrote a reply, which got published. I pointed out the fact it’s ignorant to claim black men prefer white women because of their docility. Since that is the same kind of stereotypical and overreaching statements that black people claim to hate when white people talk about black people. Then I pointed out the fact that the female perspective in the article was ironic, since not dating someone whose ancestor raped her ancestor would only make her an ancestor of someone who rapes other people. I then ended by saying this.


“The ending perspective listed three black Americans who have strong beautiful black women at their sides. Martin and Coretta, Malcolm and Betty, and Barack and Michelle, the irony is of course that Barack Obama is a product of an “interracial” relationship. So are many of your Howard classmates. What should be important in any relationship is that the two people love one another for who they are on the inside and as human beings. Not what skin color you are. By limiting yourself to one color of black or white, you are limiting a life time of potential happiness. “


I received a lot of positive responses from that article and it gave me the confidence to know that I belonged at Howard just as anyone else there did. Howard taught me that “race” is poisoning the black community and communities all over the world. No one should be afraid to discuss “race”. Black people attach themselves so deeply to the construct of race that it has inadvertently done a better job of stifling the black community then the racist white people who perpetrated the idea could ever have hoped.

I know that there are many many black people who understand the social controls that race has had on the world. How race was a last ditch effort to divide the masses and to be utilized strictly for subjugation. I also know that we can never have an equal society so long as people IDENTIFY as a race. By doing so, you are taking yourself out of the pool of humanity and placing yourself into a pool of hubris.

Tweet Dominic!!

-Dominic Ripoli @unknowncause


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