Moguls, icons and millionaires like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were also welcomed back to their unofficial alma maters after dropping out of school. But Sean Combs, who many readily accept to host a party or give a shout out, is somehow shelled out of the realm of successful individuals who have made it without higher education.
America, you can't be that selective. If we are to teach hip-hop in universities, we can certainly have one of its most successful moguls speak to our students, no?
What makes Combs' story so special wasn't his rise to the top as a drop out. It's his rise to the top as a black man…who dropped out. And frankly, if we're to compare Jobs, Gates and Combs, let's get one thing clear - their starting points were not the same. There's this thing called "privilege."
Combs perfected the art of business. His Sean Jean clothing line, the unprecedented Revolt TV, or popularizing the "Vote Or Die" campaign that bolstered the numbers of young voter registration (and led to Barack Obama's presidential win). Howard University is still at the helm of that success.
Isn't demonizing and excluding Combs from academia for his musical content, or because he didn't make his money as a lawyer or doctor, a nuanced way to say this subset of black culture isn't good enough for Howard University?
Howard does need someone suggesting to its African-American graduates that he couldn't have made it without the knowledge he acquired at the esteemed college, and, possibly, insight to navigating in this faux "post-racial" world as educated black people.
And for that, I'm certain Bill Gates or Steve Jobs couldn't provide any insight or advice.