Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
It’s homecoming season in African America, and if you know or are in cahoots with Black folks who attended, graduated or matriculated from one of the nation’s historically Black colleges or universities, you’ve probably noticed a certain glow about them. During late September through early November, they don’t even walk, they float. Yes, homecoming season is a joyous time for all of us who graced campuses across the HBCU diaspora.
My household, in particular, knows this life very well. Every year, my wife and I circle the dates on the calendar for our respective homecomings with an understanding, of sorts, that those weekends are both sacred and “days off,” so to speak. I matriculated at Morehouse College in Atlanta, and my wife graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C. — where we live — two of the most vaunted and celebrated of those glorious bastions of Black academia. That means that our homecomings (Morehouse, of course, pairs our homecoming with our sister school, Spelman College, creating the greatest portmanteau of all time, Spelhouse) are the litest, hypest, most-can’t-miss activities of the year. And we’re proud HBCU alums, so we make sure to engage with and enjoy all of the experiences of our respective schools. Hosannah in the highest.
Despite living in D.C., marrying a Howard alum and even teaching at Howard, I haven’t been to Howard’s homecoming since the 2000s. As a matter of fact, until I started teaching in its School of Communications, I hadn’t set foot on Howard’s campus during its homecoming week until this year. And that’s because of one simple tenet: We may be a mixed HBCU household, but we don’t mix homecomings.
On its face, that sounds crazy, ridiculous even. And writing this out loud, you’re right. I hear you looking at me. But hear me out. So, both my wife and I enjoyed the bejesus out of our experiences at our schools. We know all of the people. We know all of the things. At this point, my wife is way more of the “outside” person in our dynamic duo. During her homecoming, I want her to be out hanging with the homies and when it’s time for the percolator, being able to percolate without worrying about if I’m enjoying myself around a bunch of people who cannot stop hugging one another since it’s been a year since they last hung out. Nor do I want to stand around hanging out in the wings while my wife talks to literally every single person she knows, which could take forever. Point is, during Howard’s homecoming, I don’t mind being at home with the kids (who I HOPE will also have similar experiences as we did) while she’s out doing her thing.
The same goes for me. When it’s homecoming time, I like to be free and fly like an eagle. Or whatever the lyrics to that one song about freedom and eagles is talking about. When we’re in D.C., at least I know a ton of people who went to Howard, but in Atlanta, I actually don’t think my wife would have a good time partying or tailgating since the people she’d know would be my immediate circle. Basically, while I’m out galavanting and high-fiving and dapping up and talking to all the folks, basking in the glow of my years at 830 Westview Drive, SW, I’d be so concerned about my wife’s joy that I’m not sure I’d have fun. And trust and believe, I’m at SpelHouse homecoming for one reason and one reason only — the fun with the homies. Selfish? Perhaps. Understandable? Absolutely.
We understand this in my house. I don’t be trying to be all up in her homecoming mix and she doesn’t really bother about mine. Now, it would be insane to think that this won’t change. We have children who we would want to see and enjoy our respective schools at their most enjoyable. So presumably there will come a time when I take the kids up to her homecoming for the early part — have you seen these HBCU tailgate situations? It’s like the Million People March out there and defintely no place for the kids, especially when those libations really settle in. I look forward to a day when I take the kids up to Howard, and they’re decked out in Howard attire and they see their mom do her thing and their uncle (current student at Howard University) be the man out there. I want the same for our family. There will be a time when, as a family, I’ll bring the whole squad out there to bask in the glory of a SpelHouse homecoming. Fridays at SpelHouse are a wonderful time to bring the family around as the campus buzzes with Black joy. I want that for the whole family; we’re bonded in our love for HBCUs, the only way to give our kids that same feeling is to actually take them out there to witness at least a piece of it. Maybe next year. Or the year after that … we’ll workshop it.
For now though, I’m writing this on my flight to Atlanta, from a middle row seat somewhere over southern Virginia. Solo. And I couldn’t be more excited to touchdown in Atlanta and immediately go catch up with the homies.
Happy homecoming, y’all.
Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things, drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest), but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said: “Unknown” (Blackest).
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