Before I dive into this Twitter comedy gold, I’ll say this right out the gate: there’s absolutely nothing good about the misappropriation of money designed to go toward the college educations of young people, which has apparently happened at Howard University. When one year of out-of-state tuition hits for as much as a C-Class Mercedes Benz at some institutions, every dollar counts.
It’s even worse when you consider that people working at an HBCU – established by Black folks to look out for other Black folks – would even think to scam each other out of an education. It’s reprehensible, and I hope punishment is meted out accordingly.
Now that that’s out the way…bruh. The comedy.
A Medium article anonymously published late Tuesday accused several financial aid employees at Howard of stiffing students out of about a million dollars. It was all conjecture and brewing tea until Howard President Wayne A.I. Fredrick released a statement admitting that he was alerted in December 2016 about the department’s misappropriation of funds. He wrote that six people were fired for it last September, stopping short of naming names.
BREAKING UPDATE: @HUPrez17 releases statement in response to anonymous authored Medium post alleging Howard University financial aid employees stole $1 million dollars in financial aid funding. pic.twitter.com/LwrQYiSUet
— The Hilltop (@TheHilltopHU) March 28, 2018
The now-deleted Medium article called out Brian Johnson, an associate director of the department, and student-employee Tyrone Hankerson Jr, as the two biggest beneficiaries of this finesse. Hankerson allegedly pocketed more than $429,000 by awarding himself absurd amounts of money for existing scholarships and grants. Because, apparently, he figured no one would notice him get nearly 23 bands for a Mock Trial Scholarship.
This would all just be sad if not for Hankerson’s social media presence: dude was a college student flossing like he was the heir of an oil baron. He scrubbed all of his accounts with the quickness following the Medium article, but not before folks came away with one of those tree-murdering CVS receipts. Hankerson singlehandedly brought Black Twitter to life like Victor Frankenstein on an otherwise dull Wednesday afternoon.
Tyrone was living his best lives with our financial aid pic.twitter.com/7GLTqC5NSU
— Jae’Challa (@BLOWthisJAE_) March 28, 2018
Tyrone Hankerson Jr. stole $429,000 from Howard University.
Months away from graduation and the scam went south.
Mink Coats, Designer Bags, personal videographer and media team. Everyone say hello to the FINESSE GOD TYRONE. pic.twitter.com/OFjPAr6QHl
— Tariq Sayed (@StyleByTariq) March 28, 2018
“Howard” and “Tyrone” were both in top-five Twitter trending topics; the name “Tyrone” was on everyone’s fingertips and tongues more than it’s been since Erykah Badu dropped her jam 21 (!) years ago. Black folks everywhere were also reminded that it’s generally bad practice to trust Negroes named Tyrone with your hard-earned scratch.
a lot of this Tyrone situation is wild and not worth joking on but please believe me when I say the caption of “another semester down, another bag secured” left me BREATHLESS with laughter pic.twitter.com/SqEIywl9vg
— Hanif Abdurraqib (@NifMuhammad) March 28, 2018
Tyrone Hankerson walked around that campus for 4 years just like this. pic.twitter.com/0jbrT3Cl5N
— Afro-LightskinO. (@itsKARY_) March 28, 2018
Tyrone when Wells Fargo told him that his account had been flagged for fraud pic.twitter.com/DY5lPSHb1v
— A. (@FreshAir_In) March 28, 2018
Hankerson was sharp as a tack on social media, rocking all kinds of designer bags and fresh gear that his parents probably couldn’t even afford for themselves. All he was missing was a money phone made up of the hopes, dreams and aspirations of young Black students.
Surveillance footage of Tyrone answering student calls in HU Financial Aid Office… pic.twitter.com/i9o5ucZ8Cj
— G O L D I E. (@goldietaylor) March 28, 2018
joanne ran so tyrone could soar pic.twitter.com/fnQhIV5yyE
— . (@curatedbymike) March 28, 2018
We came with our very best and most creative memes. But my favorite is just a picture of Hankerson “floating” over a brick road in sockless shoes. My early 20s have been in my rear-view mirror for a decade and a half, but if this is considered fashion forward, I’m just gonna throw my car in reverse and back up. Forever.
I’ve read a lot of things about Tyrone Hankerson Jr. today. Read a lot of thought-provoking commentary. Saw a lot of captioned pictures. Read a lot of jokes. I was able to think or chuckle and scroll past everything. Except this picture has me STUCK. pic.twitter.com/qjqGjDjH3k
— Melanie Dione (@beauty_jackson) March 28, 2018
I went to a PWI where students stunted like they came from money – they were called European transfer students, and they actually did. Social media wasn’t a thing back then, but even the sexiest, most balleriffic Black folks had their raggedy asses in sweatpants at the lecture halls. I come from middle class parents, but I still literally scoured my dorm collecting cans to return to the grocery store for deposits when I was 21 so I could afford to take my girlfriend out for the occasional gyro dinner.
The alleged Howard theft is certainly enraging when you consider there are many students on every college campus eating toothpaste sammitches to get by while Hankerson wore shoes that probably cost as much as a semester of textbooks. Even if sartorial expectations are different at HBCUs, I’m imagining someone had to side-eye this kid and wonder where he got the bank for the gear.
Wednesday evening, Hankerson issued a statement essentially disavowing all responsibility for the accusations. I’m sure he’ll have his day in court, and I’d like to believe that he’s ultimately not responsible for his alleged crimes. But the memes at his expense gave us all a little bit of life, even if for one night.
As someone who’ll be paying off student loans until he’s dead, I have to laugh to keep from crying.
Dustin J. Seibert is a native Detroiter living in Chicago. Miraculously, people have paid him to be aggressively light-skinned via a computer keyboard for nearly two decades. He loves his own mama slightly more than he loves music and exercises every day only so his French fry intake doesn’t catch up to him. Find him at his own site, wafflecolored.com.