In a time within the realm of pop culture, where it seems as though the prime focus is either who’s dating who’ and who is at odd with each other, a breath of exciting fresh air came along, especially within the African American community, when Yara Shididi of ABC’s Blackish, and the former First Daughter, Malia Obama, announced their decisions’ to attend Harvard University, most, if not all supporters assumed that due to the fact that Yara Shididi is an actress on such an apologetically empowering show to Black families, and that Malia Obama being the first African American, First Daughter, that the two young ladies would choose an HBCU. While many congratulated the two, others are criticizing their decisions to attend an Ivy League school, as opposed to a historically black institution, which sparked an ongoing debate – even becoming a trending topic on Twitter.
By Shadidi and Obama choosing to attend a PWI, many saw it as either selling out the Black community, or, as showing the Black community in a positive point of view, while in a white dominated faction. Shadidi who is majoring in African American Studies while attending Harvard, posted a quote by James Baldwin as her caption, "The paradox of education is precisely this – that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.”, on her Instagram. This quote, for both Shadidi as well as Obama, is fitting, because of the notion that, in reference to the quote, Shadidi realized that due to the misfortune, murder, and even success that is exerted upon the Black community, that the call to action for her to attend an institution where she may be underestimated, not taken seriously, and disrespected, is at an all time high. Even if this goes understood, the ideology is still very much true in more ways than not. Tuskegee University Student, Vernard Truell, Junior, Construction Science Major, feels as though, Shadidi and Obama, both made the best decision for themselves and the Black community. “If not them, then who ? Who better, than two, young, strong, Black, females, who are at the forefront of the ' Black Girl Magic' ideal and image, to go forth into a campus such as Harvard, and excel and tackle not only the academic spectrum, but as well as the possibly challenging culture shock as well?”
Although the two young, African American girls attending an HBCU would help to spread and display the amount of intellect and the indescribable experience that takes place at one, Obama and Shididi attending a PWI, especially one as prestigious as Harvard, allows the world to see that Black excellence lurks everywhere. Tuskegee University student, Amira Grey, 3rd Year, Architecture major, Feels as though the girls did their due diligence when it comes to the contribution of the African American aspiration for higher education. “Although it would have been ideal for the Black community, whether it be young children, or even adults, to have Yara and Malia attend an HBCU,I, personally feel as though by them being in the midst of individuals that harshly criticized them and their families, attempted to make mockeries out of them and tried to go to great lengths to make them feel inferior for various reasons, will provide the best “last laugh”, if you will, not even for them personally, but for all young women, African Americans and students that are on this journey to strive for excellence, and a search for our niche and place in society.”
Being unapologetically Black, as these girls are and have displayed, and being in an environment that can possibly diminish this mindset, or appropriate and be hurtfully misunderstood, can and is exhausting; however, Shididi and Obama’s attendance will showcase what perseverance and having a strong sense of self is and what it can do to benefit the mindset, and mental and emotional well being of an African American female or male, in modern day society.