PHOTOGRAPH BY BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / GETTY

Written by Alma Hill

Remember back in the day when Phaedra Parks and Kandi Burruss were friends on RHOA? It was a necessary part of the plot but tolerable. Then, Phaedra’s shady side started to show. The cast and crew weren’t the only ones who started giving her a suspicious side-eye.

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Still, Bravo the rest of the Housewives gave Phaedra the benefit of the doubt and allowed her to continue her showboating. That is until shit hit the fan in the reunion, and the extent of her ill intent was revealed.

So what do Phaedra and the cast of RHOA have to do with HBCU’s?

Let’s think. Is there anyone in recent memory who may have expressed their support for HBCU’s publicly, used them as a platform to elevate his reputation with black voters, who then turned around and suggested that educational funding to institutions that are rooted in race is unconstitutional?

Remind me, but wasn’t there a certain someone who agreed to meet with the heads of these prestigious institutions to discuss the ways their future with the administration, only to release them, after cutting their time short with little to no productive conversation? (but don’t forget the photo op!)

President Trump (henceforth referred to as 45) is HBCU’s Phaedra Parks and his shady is starting to show.

Admittedly, the HBCU’s did not have the best relationship with the Obama administration, but their eagerness to partner with 45 and his cronies is not only misguided, it’s more than a little concerning.

In February, HBCU students around the nation expressed dismay when a photo of 45 with dozens of representatives from HBCU administrations began making the rounds on the internet. Their outrage was justified in part when it was revealed that the photo was impromptu, and cut short a meeting which had been scheduled to help the White House better understand the importance of HBCU’s.

“In general, the meetings were a troubling beginning to what must be a productive relationship,” Morehouse College President John Wilson Jr. said.

In recent news, students of Bethune-Cookman University have expressed outrage at the invitation of Education Secretary Betsy Devos to be the Commencement speaker for their Spring 2017 Graduation Ceremony. This is the same woman who ignorantly compared HBCU’s to “examples of school-choice” in a sad attempt to push her own agenda, and conveniently forgetting, you know, institutionalized racism.

Bethune-Cookman students have told several news outlets that they feel “betrayed” and like “their legacy is being sold” ever since the announcement was made on Monday. As of the publication of this article, an online petition has garnered more than 8,000 signatures to disinvite Ms. Devos. A student hand-delivered a petition claiming to have 60,000 signatures to the president yesterday.

Despite their outcry, the President of Bethune Cookman is refusing to rescind the invitation, ignoring his students pleas.

He is in the same boat as the HBCU leaders who “aren’t worried” about Trumps “unwavering support of HBCU’s” despite his actions suggesting that their funding is unconstitutional. Admittedly, 45 did try to take it back, but the smoke is in the air.

How much shade needs to be thrown before the HBCU presidents understand that 45 is not to be trusted? How many students need to express their distaste for this administration in it’s entirety before their administrators do something radical… like, LISTEN.

HBCU’s have a responsibility to their legacy and their student bodies to support the will of their students. Now, this is not to say that all HBCU leaders are in bed with Big Orange. In fact, many of them seem to have retained their common sense. The one’s who are choosing to collude and offer “unwavering support” of this administration are not wrong per se but should tread with caution.

What are your thoughts? Share in the comments?

Alma Hill is a freelance journalist, actress, and mother living in Orlando, FL. A frequent contributor to online and print media publications, she believes that the words from our mouths will change the world. Born in Charlotte, NC, she’s a millennial with an old soul who appreciates a good meme as much as a Miles Davis album. Brave souls can follow her on Twitter @_mynameissoul, but you have been warned.  

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