“Black and Brown”: African American Males in HSIs

Citation: Reddick, R. J., Heilig, J. V., & Valdez, P. L. (2012). Bridging a Black-Brown Divide: Black Male Students at Hispanic-Serving Institutions In A. A. Hilton, J. L. Wood, & C. W. Lewis (Eds.), Black males in postsecondary education: Examining their experiences in diverse institutional contexts, (pp. 183-208). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Link to pre-published draft.

What is an HSI? The Higher Education Act, 20 USCA Section 1,101a defines a Hispanic-serving institution as an institution of higher education that (a) is an eligible institution; (b) at the time of application, has an enrollment of undergraduate full-time equivalent students that is at least 25 percent Hispanic students; and (c) provides assurances that not less than 50 percent of the institution’s Hispanic students are low-income individuals (IPEDS, n.d.).

Our chapter states:

In 1992, the 102nd U.S. Congress passed Public Law 102-325 (S.1150) adding Section 316 to Title III, Part A of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (Stedman, 1992). Section 316 created the first legislative definition of an HSI. As defined by section 316, any institutions of higher education (IHE) with a full-time undergraduate enrollment made up of twenty-five percent Hispanic, of whom 50 percent must be first generation and low-income, would be federally designated an HSI. The importance of the federal HSI designation was that it made HSIs eligible to apply for federal monies under Title III in 1992. In 1998, due to the rapid and projected growth of HSIs, along with the continued support from proponents of Hispanic higher education, Congress added Title V to the HEA of 1965 for the specific purpose of funding HSIs. Since that time, funding for HSIs has increased from $13 million in 1995 to currently $120 million.

How do we address African American Males and HSIs in this chapter?

While the benefits of HSIs for Latino students are evident, it is important to explore how HSI environments might positively affect Black students, particularly Black males, who have particularly challenging experiences in higher education, especially at predominantly White institutions (PWIs) (Vasquez Heilig & Reddick, 2008). As studies suggest, HBCUs provide conducive environments for students of color, including Latinos (Bridges, Holmes, Williams, Morelon-Quainoo, & Nelson Laird, 2007). This chapter explores the possibility that HSIs provide supportive environments for Black male students – a population, as other chapters in the volume note, that is hypervisible, scrutinized, and in crisis in higher education settings. This chapter examines the early literature on HSIs, the students HSIs serve, how HSIs have figured into federal education policy in recent years, and their institutional missions. We augment this analysis of the literature on HSIs with results of a small-scale qualitative study examining the experiences of Black males attending and working at a small, private church-affiliated HSI in an urban setting in the Southwest U.S.. Through this literature and the findings of this study, we aim to cast a light on the history and trajectory of HSIs, as well as qualitatively examining the lived experiences of Black males attending one such institution.

We concluded,

In this chapter, we have endeavored to present the history of Hispanic-serving institutions through legislation and policy, and the literature surrounding the establishment and evaluation of students in these institutions. Using a framework of educational, institutional, and human capital, we conducted a focus group interview at Pinnacle Christian College, a private, coeducational parochial institution in urban central Texas and an HSI. The emergent themes from the focus group interview revealed that 1) Black male students were generally unaware of Pinnacle’s HSI status, though they were aware that the institution had a special relationship with members of the Hispanic community, 2) even with its HSI identity, Pinnacle still was a predominantly White institution in which the men had to navigate racial prejudice and stereotypes, and 3) the men discussed how the small group of Black males at Pinnacle created a community, and their connection to ally faculty, both Black and White helped them to find a home on the campus.

While this qualitative investigation of the experiences of Black males at an HSI reveals interesting findings for HSIs and policymakers, there is considerably more work that should be done to learn how HSI environments affect Black male higher educational experiences. Larger studies, at multiple sites should be considered, looking at diversity along the lines of institutional mission, geographic location, size, and governance (public/private). Additionally, future studies should include longitudinal analyses examining performance and completion for this population. Ultimately, it seems clear that HSI have intersectional identities – derived from their status as PWIs, parochial or state institutions, their location, and mission, to name a few aspects – that significantly color the experience for Black males.

Overview of Black males in postsecondary education: Examining their experiences in diverse institutional contexts:

Black Males in Postsecondary Institutions: Examining their Experiences in Diverse Institutional Contexts offers a comprehensive examination of the experiences of Black males in our nation’s higher education institutions. In recognizing the role of institutions in fostering distinctive educational experiences, this volume systematically explores the status, academic achievement, and educational realities of Black men within numerous institutional types (i.e., community colleges, For-profit colleges, Liberal arts colleges, historically Black colleges and universities, ivy league institutions, religious-affiliated institutions, private institutions, Hispanic-serving institutions, research intensive institutions, and predominately White institutions). In line with a core commitment towards transformative change, chapter authors also provide recommendations for future research, policy, and practice aimed at fostering enhanced personal, academic, and career outcomes for Black men in college.

You can email Richard Reddick richard.reddick at austin.utexas.edu here or Julian Vaquez Heilig jvh at austin.utexas.edu

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