Over the past week, some simmering tensions have reached a fever pitch, ignited by an article written by Bennett College alumna Aziza Jackson that calls for the end of the brother-sister relationship between Morehouse College and Bennett College because Morehouse sucks.
While Jackson takes out most of her frustrations on her fellow "brothers" from Morehouse, she does manage to slide in some shade at the "low-hanging fruit" across the street. Of course, that would be Spelman College, the school that most people associate with Morehouse (and most of us Morehouse men associate ourselves with). What followed were other articles from Bennett Belles feigning ignorance at how any woman from Spelman could take such words as disrespect (I'm sure that entire article was written with a wink), and articles from Spelman women responding to the articles from Bennett. And in the middle of it all, I think Brick killed a guy.
And apparently—though I didn't see any of it myself—Twitter became a firestorm of back-and-forth between past and current students of Morehouse, Bennett and Spelman. I'm sure that was a real brouhaha.
Let's just start with the obvious: What you're not gon' do is call Spelman low-hanging fruit, then hide your hands and pretend that it was only meant to mean "next door." Everybody knows what "low-hanging fruit" means. It's even pejorative when people are literally picking fruit.
Look, I have love for my Bennett sisters, but let's be real: There was no way that shade was going to be left alone. What started out as legitimate frustration (we'll get to this in a moment) ended up looking like bitterness because of some alleged second-tier status on the Morehouse ladder, which is a problem in and of itself. It ends up looking as if a group of women are upset that the "constitutional" leverage they're granted, through admission to Bennett, for adoration from Morehouse men got usurped solely because there are a group of women across the street whom we see every day.
Instead of beef with Morehouse, it looks like beef with Spelman. And beef? S—t, Spelman women overcook that meat. Do you remember what they did to Nelly? Also, the beef angle looks funny because I'm sure that quite a few Spelman women are definitely looking at their Morehouse counterparts with the same disdain, specifically because they got to spend every day with us.
There is indeed a thin line between love and hate. And it is called Westview Drive.
But let's get back to the frustration that some (obviously not all) Bennett Belles have with their brothers from Morehouse College. The main issue—and it is a fair one—is that, for the most part, the brother-sister relationship is more of an idea than an actuality. There is very little done to foster a true sense of brotherhood and sisterhood between the two schools. This, to me, is a legit concern. Hell, I didn't even know that Bennett College existed, let alone that it was our official sister school, when I got to Morehouse.
Though, full disclosure: I'd never heard of the majority of schools that were on our football schedule, either. Apparently my black-college knowledge was less than stellar. Point is, I found out that we had a sister school way up in North Carolina, but I had my own Spelman sister from Philadelphia, who I could hang with after class on the steps of Gloster Hall every afternoon. We were fast friends. It's not that I didn't care about Bennett College. Quite the contrary: I thought it was cool that if I were ever to run into a woman from Bennett, I could point out that she was my sister.
But for four years, I had my Spelman sisters. I even took tons of classes at Spelman. I love Spelman and I love the many women I came to know from there and the relationships I was able to build that still exist today. All of my closest friends either went to Morehouse or Spelman. On the Bennett-hand side, I can count on one hand the number of women I know from Bennett. Now, the two who immediately come to mind are great women, but I only know two.
If Bennett women were coming down for homecoming while I was in college, I either had no clue or wasn't cool enough to approach any. But most likely, I just had no idea. During homecoming, we're all walking around tailgating and really enjoying the moment. Nobody is taking the time to ensure that they're fostering constitutionally bound relationships. Morehouse College and Bennett College could have done more to create a sense of community between our two schools. There could have been some kind of event specifically created to make sure we all got a chance to meet. That falls on the backs of both schools. This is something I could get behind.
But it didn't happen, or hasn't. I wasn't active in the student government, so I have no idea whether leadership from the two schools does any real connecting when it comes to homecoming. So while I get the frustration, it's not just the fault of Morehouse. Both schools could do a better job.
And the truth is, I'd imagine that, unfortunately, the only group truly upset about this is Bennett students because, well, we do have our sisters across the street. Lucky for us, those sisters are Spelman women, some of the smartest, brightest, most beautiful, accomplished and impressive women on the planet. I don't know why Spelman College isn't our "constitutionally bound" sister school in the first place, but it matters not. Proximity breeds affection on both sides.
If I went to Bennett and was told about my brother school and somebody implied that the red carpet was going to be rolled out, and all I saw was a red fruit roll-up somebody dropped on the ground when I got there, I might be pissed, too. But I also might realize that it's homecoming and I might as well take advantage of being in Atlanta during the turnup.
There are so many people out during homecoming that if you're there to meet people, you're going to meet people, and invariably, some of those people will be Morehouse students. I can understand feeling like, "Hey, I'm here in Atlanta at Morehouse and I went to Bennett and nobody cares," but realize that unless somebody specifically states that I have to care about you, I probably won't anyway unless we meet organically and it becomes something.
I don't agree with Ms. Jackson (sorry) that we should end the brother-sister relationship. It can still mean something; both schools just have to be more active in that process. But the truth is, it will never trump the brother-sister relationship that exists with Spelman anyway. It just won't. It can't. Sure, some bitter Morehouse dude who gets played by 2,000 too many Spelman women will tell you that he prefers a Bennett woman over a Spelman woman, but I mean, we don't like him at Morehouse, either.
The fact is, Spelman is right there. But that's only the half. Meeting those women makes it easy to understand why so many Morehouse men are drawn into those gates (and have risked rubber bullets as we tried to scurry through the gates before midnight).
It's not personal. I will always have love for Bennett College, the institution and the many fine women who have graced her halls. But I love Spelman, for Spelman was nearly as vital to my college experience as Morehouse. If there is one true drawback to Bennett, it's that. Bennett can't be influential in my life the way Spelman was and continues to be because of the relationships I've built and because of my daughter, who is already convinced that she's going to Spelman.
To the ladies of Bennett, if you ever feel as if we Morehouse men don't care, always remember: Each one, teach one …
… and Tupac cares, even if nobody else cares.
Thank you and good night.
Panama Jackson is the co-founder and senior editor of VerySmartBrothas.com. He lives in Washington, D.C., and believes the children are our future.