One Time, at Band Camp… FAMU Band Hazing Trumps Graduating

This one time, at band camp a bunch of Black people beat me to do death. Florida A&M (FAMU) drum major Robert Champion, a 26-year-old junior (?), recently died from injuries sustained during intensive hazing from other members of the esteemed Historically Black College and University (HBCU) band.

Look, no hazing policies are a major part of Stuff Black People Don’t Like. Black fraternity members continue on the proud tradition of branding that was started in the days of slavery and Black sorority members are known to participate in events that make the flute Alyson Hannigan used in an, ahem, unorthodox manner back in American Pie look like child’s play.

What exactly transpired in the hazing death is unknown — though a culture of hazing in the “famed” FAMU band is a right of passage for our Ebony soul musicians — but heads are rolling in the wake of the tragedy:

Four band members dismissed from Florida A&M University were allegedly involved in hazing drum major Robert Champion before he died and could face manslaughter charges, said a lawyer linked to the case. 

In the students’ dismissal letter, obtained by, they are accused of “an act of hazing” on Nov. 19 in Orlando, Fla., the day Champion died on a bus after performing with the school’s famed marching band. 

The school also charged the students with “conspiracy,” defined in the student handbook as “planning with one or more fellow students to commit an act or acts that violate(s) the University Code of Conduct.” 

The dismissal notice describes the students’ alleged offenses as being of “a serious, heinous or repulsive nature.” The students have not been identified. 

Police have said they believe that Champion’s death was related to a hazing incident.
The school’s band director Julian White, who was fired after Champion’s death, identified the four band members who were allegedly involved in hazing the drum major and were dismissed by the school, his lawyer Charles Hobbs told today. 

“If it’s later determined by the sheriff’s office [that Champion died from hazing], then the individuals could face more serious charges up to and including manslaughter,” Hobbs said.

Champion’s death raises a number of questions regarding hazing, but the most important one will go unanswered: outside of the hilarity that HBCU “proud” marchng bands provide, what is the purpose of keeping alive these institutions? I don’t just mean the bands, but the HBCU’s themselves.

 At a young age, this writer realized that the biggest difference in racial groups was on display when members of a Predominately White Institution (PWI) marching band performed at the halftime of a football game — with rousing, martial precision — compared to when HBCU bands engaged in their “jive soul bro” performances.

The Washington Post recently published an article that dripped of hyperbole, but in all seriousness stated that Coppin State (an HBCU in Baltimore) was proud of having an ambitious data-driven plan that had increased its graduation rate to 15 percent. Southern University is having financial and enrollment issues; and The New York Times recently stated that going to an HBCU hurt long-term earnings potential.

What’s the point of an HBCU save allowing Black people to have an authentic Black college experience? Perhaps the HBCU system is kept alive to keep from flooding PWI’s with an increased crop of academically disinclined Black students, whereby at HBCU’s Black students can participate in Black activities without significant oversight?

But with a greater stress to improve the American education system, what role do HBCU’s play when they provide some of the worst academic success stories (but some of the “best” band performances…)?:

The president’s goal puts new demands on the nation’s remaining 105 historically black colleges and universities, popularly referred to as HBCUs. For generations, before civil rights legislation changed admissions policies at traditionally white schools, most African-Americans graduated, in high numbers, from HBCUs. 

Today, however, the overwhelming majority of HBCUs have dismal graduation rates, a phenomenon Obama was aware of when he spoke in Austin. The Associated Press studied six-year graduation rates of 83 four-year HBCUs and found that only 37 percent of black students earned degrees within six years. Just as worrisome as the low completion rate was the fact that the national graduation rate for black students is 4 percentage points higher than that of the HBCUs collectively. 

More bad news came in May from the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The agency banned a record eight teams from postseason play as a result of their athletes’ poor academic performance. Four of the teams are at HBCUs, and a fifth is from a school in Illinois designated as predominantly black.

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education provides data that shows elite colleges have a vested interest in graduating Blacks (as opposed to an HBCU, which all have pitiful graduation rates), lest they be accused of racism. Once you are accepted to elite colleges, the goal is to graduate you, especially if you are Black; it’s in keeping acceptance rates low where the real battle to maintain elite status begins.


American education isn’t failing; Black people are incapable of maintaining the standards set by white America students. End of story.

In the endless of pursuit of trying to uplift Black students, we have permanently damaged excellence in education by lowering standards to accommodate your typical FAMU band member (smarter Blacks are going to PWIs, but even their they receive preferential treatment).

But that preferential treatment is even worse at the law school level, with Steve Sailer writing:

Indeed, the great majority of elite black law students are beneficiaries of racial preferences. A 2005 study found: 

“… without affirmative action, African American enrollment at the first-tier schools would decline by over four-fifths and at each of the next two tiers by approximately two-thirds.”

On top of that, George Will recently wrote this:

Another study showed that, even if eliminating racial preferences in law schools would mean 21 percent fewer black matriculants, there still would be no reduction in the number of blacks who graduate and pass the bar exam. 

A second brief, submitted by three members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights—Gail Heriot, Peter Kirsanow and Todd Gaziano—argues that racial preferences in law-school admissions mean fewer black lawyers than there would be without preferences that bring law students into elite academic settings where their credentials put them in the bottom of their classes.

Wouldn’t the prudent thing to do in this situation, with such convincing data at our fingertips, be to encourage Black students at PWI’s to migrate back to HBCUs? Remember that at the University of Wisconsin, Black students receive preferential treatment when it comes to gaining admission (denying more qualified white applicants the opportunity to earn an education at the school) to a school that turns around and spends millions upon millions of dollars to celebrate diversity through initiatives and programs that have absolutely no net intrinsic value.

Wait, weren’t we talking about FAMU band? Whoops.

The only way to save HBCU’s is to encourage Black students seeking an education at a PWI, which they get preferential treatment when they apply yet are largely academically unprepared for the coursework they will encounter, to apply and enroll at HBCU’s like Coppin State and Southern.

For those wondering, FAMU has a graduation rate of 34 percent. Perhaps that explains why there is a 26-year-old junior in the band.

In closing, all we can say is this one time, at band camp…



Stuff Black People Don't Like (formerly has moved to!
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s