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For the past month or so I’ve been enjoying unlimited access to shows both new and old via Netflix, but there is one in particular that I have on replay. It’s a favorite of mine that I grew up watching, but I was honestly was too young to really appreciate the depth of principles it contained in every single episode. That show is A Different World.
For those over 30, A Different World is a classic where Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) are concerned! Quite frankly this show set the bar for the Black college experience and excitement for attending a HBCU. Now being in my 30s, having attended a HBCU and having some life experiences under my belt, I can watch these episodes with a clearer lens and reflect on the many topics that have been ignored, avoided or unfortunately glamorized. However, due to the time we are living in, these issues are resurfacing with more attention that’s long over due.
One very important thing Hillman had was the strong male influence on campus like Coach Walter Oakes (Sinbad) who taught the young men how to be respectful, not only to themselves but respectful towards women. For those who remember this episode, it also involved Dwayne coming to Freddie’s aid when she was nearly raped. Black men are the protectors of Black women, regardless to whom or what!
This was probably one of the most profound episodes that highlighted a professor and student who delved into subjects such as AIDS, how it affects the Black community and what those who are living with AIDS experience in effort to educate and bring awareness in a classroom setting.
One thing is for sure we do see our Black college students in the fight against racism and police brutality, but what about the subtle racism from White college students who rely on their White privilege? Where is the fortitude to stand up on truth in the face of fear (jail) and understanding our contribution and rightful place in this country that would be desolate without the blood, sweat and lives of Black people? Do we have these conversations anymore or are they too far in between?
Even the way they handled beef between one another on the campus of Hillman was done with dignity, style and intelligence. They created unique outlets that didn’t involve violence, but righteous competition.
These are just some of the thoughts that crossed my mind as I watched each episode. All were full of profound moral lessons that were bold and on time… actually timeless considering we are still struggling with some of these issues today. I commend all those Black college students who do reflect the Hillman state of mind who are not afraid to speak out and stand up. I raise my fist to those strong professors, resident aids and deans who do their best in being an example of self-respect and strength when everything around them is contrary and pulling on the minds they are striving to save and preserve.
Maybe someone will create a curriculum based on A Different World, because that show is worthy to be studied and applied in every HBCU and beyond!
I don’t Netflix and chill, I Netflix and THINK!
Ebony S. Muhammad, Publisher