Black Male Mentoring: Decoding the Image

Black Male Mentoring: Decoding the Image

Click click: the sound of a woman locking her car door as I crossed an intersection in Newark, New Jersey. I guess to her I had on “carjacker” gear. It was a stark reminder that despite being a professional who champions black male mentoring throughout the United States, to her I was just a black man in a hoodie and resembled a stick-up kid. The 21-degree temperature called for a thick coat and a hoodie, but the simple dress down day took me back to my childhood and the stereotypes I have had to battle my whole life.

Truth be told, I wasn’t offended by the woman’s reaction. Young black men trying to navigate the streets are often misunderstood, and in many cases, caught in a routine of exercising a false sense of manhood via senseless crimes. When responsible men such as clergy, professionals, teachers, fathers, and coaches are absent as community leaders, pain and despair become as common as the sunrise.

“Ninety percent of my friends are in gangs.” This was a provocative insight I received at a male mentoring festival from two young, promising high school students on the rise in Newark. Despite challenging circumstances such as the over-incarceration of black and Latino men, increasing gang presence, under-served schools, and unshakable “thug life” stereotypes via the media, they’ve made a conscious decision to persevere against all odds. The reality is, without the help of caring adults and black men serving as their guides, beating the odds can seem quite insurmountable.

Watching the way these young black boys responded to responsible black men who were simply taking time to help guide and mentor them, was beyond inspiring. The mentees greeted the men with firm hand shakes, executed strong eye contact, stood tall with pride and shared their educational aspirations. It was yet another reminder that when the men assume responsibility, powerful things happen.

Advancing a collective, positive mentoring movement is a huge step in dispelling the negative ways black men are often viewed in communities from coast to coast. When black men stand up and reclaim their rightful place in communities across America, fathers can contribute to raising boys to be men. Black boys are empowered to soar like eagles in an open society when mentors are available to help them attain their goals.

Becoming a mentor is a rewarding experience that creates a bond between mentor and mentee and helps youth overcome stereotypes and environmental factors that can keep them from achieving their goals. It is a caring movement that develops ties between black men, boys, and their families that can never be broken.

To find out how you can become a mentor, please visit the Mentoring USA website. Happy National Mentoring Month!

Learn More:

4 Comments

Hide

All too often within our society young people of color have their lives destroyed by draconian drug laws.They are often times guilty of nothing more than possession. No violence. when they are subjected to a prison environment they come out hardened and angry. They are damaged by our penal system which serves to train a person for worse things in life. Treatment is more humane and serves to salvage those who can find the fortitude to overcome a destructive lifestyle. All too often these individuals are not afforded a chance being a person of color or of a lower socioeconomic group.Young males without Father's are most susceptible.

Social change will come but you must keep the recruitment going to drive forward Black ideals
black consciousness and self respect .You cannot take the environment out of the man but the man out of the environment is possible When he learns that which is within him is power not what is around him alone so help him to change the mind set and develop living from within to release the power within we all have it.Straight Ahead

When will we look at the other side of the coin and see that we can raise strong young men of color, but some may be Gay and that dosent make them less of a man. Lets work to build a community

Add your voice