Once upon a time, on a network where a digital
stereotype host named Miss Cita lived, there was also a show called Hits From the Streets. It was a silly sketch show on the BET network that sometimes visited popular colleges and coined phrases like “Moo Phi Moo.” The show was kind of dope for its time. It was the year 2000, so folks were still watching daytime shows and videos on BET. How else were you going to find out that Diddy made his artists rock the number 2 on the back of their jerseys in their own videos while his had the number 1?
Anyway, one day, host Al Shearer and his team from the show landed on a tiny and unknown campus called Morris College. The entire campus (all 1,000 of us) was shocked. Like, “Whatttt? The guy from Hits is HERE?” I low-key figured it was a mistake. I figured he thought he was at Morris Brown College (in Atlanta). Our tiny campus was buzzing that day, but I dared not go outside and check things out. At the time, I was going through an “intake process” for a sorority, so I wasn’t exactly looking photo-shoot fresh while he was there.
I asked around, and word on the yard was that he was there doing a piece that explored black colleges. Folks gave him a tour and were excited to be on camera. I’m from New York, so I just didn’t trust it. I was like, “Soon dude is going to realize that we are not Morris Brown and pack his equipment up.”
Cut to the episode airing. The title was something like, “Where the Hell Is Morris College?” Baby, he must have been sent by the ancestors to prepare us for the merciless beast known as Black Twitter. He dragged the shit out of our college; he had so many jokes.
At one point, he showed a student in our school gym working out. This student, who was, like, all of 102 pounds, was doing sit-ups shirtless with a 25-pound free weight on his stomach. The camera scanned the dark and dingy “gym” with the lonely-looking weights lying around with maybe a treadmill in the corner. In the background, you could hear Al saying, “Oh OK, state-of-the-art gym y’all got here.” It was a hot-ass mess.
When the jokes came rolling in from folks back home after they watched the show, I laughed at first to hide my embarrassment. Then I got defensive, the kind of defensiveness you would feel if somebody were taking shots at your favorite cousin who rocked U.S. Polo Association instead of Polo.
We were a poor school. If Drumline was based loosely on Morris Brown, then our TV equivalent was Good Times. We don’t even have a movie equivalent. The truth is, I knew we were poor, but we had, and still have, each other. I don’t want to sound corny, but Good Times probably is a rightful equivalent. It was a space that was low on resources but full of people and staff who loved and pushed me. It was the space I needed to understand and fall in love with my black skin, mind and hair.
It was a space full of firsts for me. It was the first time a teacher ever told me I was smart. It was the first time a teacher imparted things in me I didn’t later have to unpack and fight against. It was the first time this New Yorker experienced Southern love in the form of classmates who invited me to their homes when I couldn’t get to mine for a holiday. That Southern love, that Morris College love, is what we still provide each other today. Beyond a homecoming, we love each other all year in our own way. We are family.
Homecoming is a family reunion where we get to just be our dope, black-ass loving selves, loving each other the way you love when you share the type of connection that can only be understood by each other. It’s that black love, that only a black college can produce, that’s sustained despite a world that seems to thrive on black pain.
Folks are probably reading this asking, “Well, where the hell is Morris College?” Easy answer: Sumter, S.C. A better question is, “Where the hell would Shanita Hubbard be without Morris College?” I don’t know, but I certainly would not be writing for some of your favorite publications, that’s for sure.