10 Mentoring Activities That Urban Kids Can Use……….Suggestions From Someone Who Would Actually Know


I’m so stoked to see that roaring interest in actually inquiring into the needs of the po’ innah city youfs. After all, one can’t be expected to achieve great things and get ushered into the land of white milk and honey if not up to speed with the cost of doing business by those illusive gatekeepers.

If not for the generosity of those upper Blacks and their passing interest in how those lazy low class Blacks make everyone (read: White people) look at Blacks as if we’re all a shiftless monolith, then how, indeed, would little Bokeem learn to read?

How can little Queefah believe in herself and her potential to be all that she can be so that she can one day afford the luxury of keyboard thugging on high speed internet, while not so vaguely shielding her exhibitionist level contempt for those unlike her?

Motivation is what causes people to reach for things they think are outside of their grasp. Instead of being motivated by the opportunity to invoke change in a person, there are also those who are motivated to change another’s plight because they hope to feel useful so it’s not about the chirrens, it’s sometimes about a paycheck, it’s sometimes just straight up ignorance.

What motivation is to be found from those who show up to ‘help’ yet look down their noses and hold inferiority bias of the same impressionable young people they claim to want to help?

Classism is an issue that spans across race and geographic location. It ain’t just certain Blacks thinking their baby hair lays just a little silkier than the less fiscally fit woman, oh, no. Every group has a Upper Lower and a Lower.

Classism is the system of beliefs held by one group about the behavior of another. Things get much easier once you actually know a thing or two about the people’s lives contained in text books or the television. In other words, upper class members are equally ignorant as low class members to the nuances and signals used to identity one’s class.

Some of you are really into class……but wait. Class is another way of identifying ‘in group’ and ‘out group’ and trust me some of that which will bar you from sections of certain classes can’t be remedied by body language. I think low class people understand that, not so sure that the uppers do.

Now, I could be wrong, but I’m not so sure that those who show faux concern really give a fuck (they never really do………. it’s a hobby of the comfortable to take on matters of poverty, don’t you know…..? We’ve been doing this ).

You see, to a person like me, from the innah city, people helping are actually those who could a) actually care and lend some valuable time and intellectual resources (usually motivated because they noticed the discrepancy in resources), or b) show up to play among the ‘less fortunate’ while also thinking such people are unwilling, or incapable of improving at all (because they must……think residency/internship/bad economy) none of which makes for a willing or enthusiastic point person.

To some, the word mentor is another code word for a sexual predator, or busy body, or outsider. How can you help me do anything when you presume that we are alike and that I have the aptitude, resources, willingness and capacity to do is needed to improve.

What is ‘improved’ and how do these people know they  aren’t up to ‘the par’ (whose par is it…Who gets to set the ‘par’ standard when most working class Blacks think ‘getting a job’ is the end of it, no one discusses careers and business ownership………)? How does one decide to cease being ‘ain’t shit’ and work on becoming (shit…..?) a productive citizen?

In my experience, the B person shows up just as often as the A person does. But it’s really confusing to me, you see, I know of several groups of individuals who would love to have mentors to work with the black girls in their programs. I also know that I am a product of several mentors, throughout grammar school up until undergrad. I have more mentors, personally and professionally that guided me on decisions, resources and the inside workings of ‘white folks land’ cuz a bitch like me was CON-FUKIN-FUZED!!

My daughter is the product of several mentors, acquired through juvenile services, though court order and through my own effort to secure one for her personal growth. And yes, she really didn’t want to be bothered with her mentors, nor did I, considering that she was compelled to meet with a group of court appointed (volunteer in exchange for a stipend check) asexual Black Christian Bible thumping seat warmers who had neither the educational experience nor work life credentials to matter much.

I nearly got arrested myself by having to plead with my daughter to listen and do the task she was given in order to please the ‘mentors’ or else she would not get released from charges resulting from a fight that broke out with another student over my daughter’s attire and matters of her gender. Her task, in order for her to learn to not be seen as gay, since that was the focus on the mentor’s ‘concern over her behavior’ in addition to how her ‘looking like that’ will surely bring her trouble and how she ‘contributed to the problem’  was to write a front and back lined paper report on ways she can be more feminine and what it means to be a lady.

PROBLEM SOLVED!! Thanks mentors!!! Now she’ll never be verbally and physically harassed because she prefers loose athletic clothes to belly shirts and low rise skinny jeans with the signature visible g-string because you reinforced some bland gender role instead of teaching the kids gender diversity, conflict resolution, and respecting others.

The unfortunate things is that this is the kind of mentoring that inner city kids are exposed to rather than the television version of a bubbly college kid and an adorable black male child as they bond over Co-Play.

Is there any wonder they don’t want to be bothered? Would you!? Aside from the fact that there are parents who would give their right arm to have mentors available BEFORE court and criminal behavior.

“Unfortunately we only provide mentors after court intervention, Ma’am”

“So you mean I have to wait until she’s arrested, harmed or damaged in some other way before she qualifies for help?”

“Yes, Ma’am. We don’t provide mentors to kids who are not yet in need.”

All one needs to do is to GOOGLE (your friend) in order to find programs seeking mentors, and children and parents desperate for the additional help.

Damn near every culture and religion, gender and geographic location has programs seeking mentors. Education, coaching, creative arts, deaf and those needing sign language mentors, learning disabled professionals, and young girls in need of help with life skills after having served as sex slaves, are in abundance so let’s stop pretending that no one is asking for help, shall we?

Fuck is all this talk about ‘do they want help’? More like ‘what makes you want to come here and help?’ Ego stroke? Forced to be here? Slum tourism? Cruising for another victim?…………….#BitchBooBye

Why should one choose to mentor African American po folks though……..?

Because you want to help people in general, is my first answer, that should be the reason a person helps anyone. Help is help and there should be no expectations but holding a person to standards is a great way to get them to work towards goals. Accepting a person as they are would work wonders too. No you aren’t okay in this condition (poverty), but you are a great human being (not a po helpless nigga).

Therein lies the difference.

I learned that in undergrad once I found the courage to go to a community college and apply. Up until the time my boyfriend suggested that I look into college, I had avoided going to find out any information.

My high school was similar to the zoo known as East Side High during the pre Joe Clarke scenes of Lean on Me and suffice it to say that college was something other people did.

My first day of high school is forever minted in my brain, as I approached the building I saw several students holding a smaller (Freshman?) student out the window by his single leg. I learned how to stay low by cutting class in the library (no thugs here!) or by bribing the girl’s bathroom security guard. If you can supply her cigarettes during the 40 minute stint then she wouldn’t report you to the office for cutting class.

My teachers were pleased that I spoke proper English, I was pleased that I wasn’t forced to sit in class all day long, I wasn’t pleased when my guidance counselor (a white man) found me cutting class in the hallway and conveyed his displeasure by throwing me into the lockers by my shirt and threatening me with alcohol laced spittle. I told him that if he put his hands on me again, I’d kill him. My ice glare got to him because that was the last time I discussed attendance and grades with anyone in high school ever again.

Yes, and these same people are involved in the Jersey City educational system but in bigger and more lucrative positions. Their faces smile at me from Facebook and I wonder why is this life………..? And to those of you who masturbate over your implied superiority of the ‘po Blacks’ I’ll remind you that aspirations are a privilege. It’s presumed you’ll live long enough to need a way to support your life, others wonder if they’ll have a life, or even look with relief to that point in which they can be done with it.

Surviving is what people like me do…………. I celebrated when I lived to reach 18, and was so accustomed to non routine and schedules that I almost missed my graduation because I wasn’t sure of the date, and didn’t have parents who would care to attend so it wasn’t that heavy. There was no new clothes and no celebration. I pushed my daughter in a stroller while wearing a cut too up by thigh high white romper with diamond beads and white stilettos. I passed her off to someone so that I could sit with my class and walk and graduate. I then walked back home with my daughter among the amiss of balloons, cheers and happy pictures.

My girlfriend, a drug addicted prostitute that had moved to Miami called me from a client’s hotel room that night. She was aware that the high schools in our town were holding graduations and she called to congratulate me and tell me how proud of me she was. I don’t recall anyone ever saying they were proud of me.

I was embarrassed by her words and confused as to their meaning, but my heart swelled just a little.

It’s a certain feeling one has when they go from where they are into a ‘strange place’, many people can’t deal with that level of anxiety so they try to remain in the box given to them and hope they can be relevant from there. Me, I’m the type to see barriers ahead of me as I go from a trot to a light jog to build the momentum of a Mack truck–I’m coming in, like it or not!!

And did you know that college aptitude isn’t even a guarantee educational track in high school let along anyone mentioning how to go to college? So many kids weren’t able to go right into college because they hadn’t the core classes required to apply. No one said anything until it was time to apply for college, you may be wondering where the parents are, working, or too tired, or too ignorant to be of much help. The people at the school are supposed to know what’s what, at least that’s the myth.

Simply walking into certain places, the looks, the stares, the tone of voice all clearly let me know that I’m not supposed to be here. My clothing was always too big (borrowed from boyfriends), too dingy (my daughter has better clothes), or too sexy (work uniform worn during the day time hours), and I know the ‘look’ when I’ve gone beyond the Low Class line.

I didn’t want to be embarrassed, and I was sure it would be too complicated because I thought I was stupid, lucky for me those E.O.F. program people were there to help me, since I was am a first generation college student, I qualified for money and mentoring through my Jr. College. These were also the first people to accurately diagnose my disorder, once I learned study techniques to manage how I learn and had some encouragement from the nice White therapist at the school, I was on my way and graduated in 2002 at the age of 29.

Who said you can’t go back to school late………..? Tell them I said ‘yes, the fuck you can’……….with a vengeance!!

Thank goodness I had people who motivated me, not that there were many, but once I began school, the help and advice came pouring in. Even if all my single mother, multiple baby having prior married or accidentally poor friends could do was to listen to me cry in frustration during Add/Drop and administrative FUBARS they did that.

Friends bought me their kids textbooks to help me keep up with Math, and some of them would come and break out pencil and paper and sit with me until I learned Algebra. Many of them were reminded of their own educational superiority, I wondered why simple ol’ me is going to college when everyone else seemed better equipped for it?

Through my threats to quit and return to my job at UPS (supplemented by stripping), they reminded me that I’m their hero and I’ve got so many eyes on me hoping I could finish. I felt like I was running a race, and all eyes are on me to bring one home for team Ghetto.

I”m grateful to several amazing men and women who helped me become who I am today because they didn’t have to stop and help me.

And maybe you don’t think I”m very much to aspire to, but if you knew where I came from and who I am then this statement would mean so much more.

But then again, no matter what you do, some people will still look down their noses at you and scoff.

So what type of help can inner city youfs use in order to get them up to speed with the world at large? How can mentors approach urban African American kids in a way that will be mutually beneficial and productive to those kids who can really use it? I may have some answers……

Here’s a list of 10 Mentoring Activities That Inner City Kids Can Use:

  1. Mentor the kids to teach them how to not be sexually exploited by teachers and those in authority. You may want to focus on boys versus girls and whether its a teacher, or a coach, (or in my case….a guidance counselor) that has asked for sexual favors in return for grades, or instructors who sends students on a breakfast run when he’s late instead of keeping them in class to learn something. 
  2. Mentor the kids to have breakfast and lunch during the day. Kids can’t concentrate when they are hungry, and so a child or young person who hasn’t eaten has far more pressing matters then learning and focusing on that amazing life they have ahead of them. So you should focus on them having a nutrition meal, maybe from the lunch programs that barely exist anymore. Either way, a mentor can help by making sure the child has eaten.
  3. Children should be taught to not have to fend for themselves. While some kids get to go home and do homework in a heated and lit home, others attend school when they can, and often don’t have much time to do schoolwork while working a part time job, or raising siblings so the parents can work double shifts. Being in the dark, and without adequate light or a place to sit makes learning difficult.
  4. Teens would be especially interested in ways of avoiding violence and sexual abuse from their fellow students, also. Mentors should teach kids not to be places where other kids will target them. If kids want to succeed in life they’ll have to learn hand to hand combat.
  5. Teens may fare better if walking into a high school didn’t require a full body search, a bag inspection and doors that lock and buzz from room to room. If the setting looked more like a college campus then a prison I am thinking maybe some kids wouldn’t be so familiar with jail and more used to college campuses. They don’t call it ‘fast track’ for nothing. You know very well where your future is headed, it’s almost like it’s been planned for them!
  6. Books are a great way to learn, and in my opinion, using the books provided by the board of education makes way more sense than acquiring text books and keeping them under lock and key. Even better would be to require the board of education to provide books in the first place, because sometimes there are no books and then those books can be locked away, and then mentoring will be much more effective.
  7. Mentor the inner city kids on ways to avoid having teachers who will sit in their face and tell them ‘they ain’t shit’. By working with a mentor, it’s possible the young person may, indeed, think they aren’t shit, and motivation is always necessary for furthering aspirations. Teachers are only here to get paid, and like they say ‘my kids are in private school so what you learn doesn’t matter’, or ‘you little monkey’s don’t want to learn anything’. If a child can learn to avoid this type of bad teacher than a mentor’s job has been done.
  8. Mentors may be useful when it comes time to apply for financial aid. Though they may not know the details of applying to college when one’s parent is on welfare, but it’s always a nice gesture. And if you have parents that refuse to provide financial documentation in order to obtain FinAid you can always talk it out with your mentor as she looks at you with pity and confusion in her eye because she can’t understand why your parents (read: your mother) doesn’t want you to go to college.
  9. Mentors can assist up and coming youth by being honest with them and telling them that their speech and grades won’t mean much when they stand a great chance of being killed, or arrested for looking ‘suspicious’ whether their a male or female. And if s/he finds him/herself dead later on in life it’s because they didn’t internalize this valuable lesson.
  10. Mentors can be a great help to young urban kids by reminding them that their race, speech, mannerism, style of dress, body language, name and a host of other variables will affect their future potential. But this will only work if the mentor is exposed to the diversity of society enough where s/he can identify and convey these very subtle social ques and the difference between one over the other.

As you can see I’m being slightly facetious but not much. Who here has had to live a life under these circumstances to tell you what’s really what? Many people blame the less fortunate for their own troubles when in reality who the fuck do you think isn’t trying to avoid existing two steps away from death, starvation or exploitation on the daily? To presume so makes the writer sound way more ignorant than any illiterate teen I’ve ever met. But this is what the tourists do, they involve themselves and add insult to injury because of the friction of lack of understanding and mutual respect.

It’s sloppy and terribly insensitive to those who come here seeking motivation to do better.  When was the last time anyone here had a mentor? I’d much rather hear how that turned out for you then to wonder if the person dying of thirst wants a glass of water.

Sure they do, but do they want to sip from a glass smeared with fecal matter? No. So I ask this like I’m sure some of these kids do when presented with a mentoring opportunity..?

Are you here willing to help………..?

Or did you come to make your insecure self feel a little better by witnessing the strife of others less fortunate than you? As much as I want to be quiet, and as much anxiety as I feel when I write in detail about myself there’s no way in Hell I’ll stop talking about the people, places and things from where I came.

If not for them, there would be no me, so sorry you thought we were all caged and waiting on a rescue team.

Did it ever occur to you that your presence isn’t welcome because you cause more harm than good simply by thinking you are needed (graced us with your presence) without addressing any real factors to why urban kids have difficulty with growth and opportunity?

A message to flee Blackistan (Hi Kia) should at least come with a road map, some matches and a few sticks of dynamite.

I’m from the urban jungle and I approve this message even if no one else does…………


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