Skepticism about Mentoring

iStock_000015240396XSmallI just read a comment on a blog that basically said, if these middle-class educated people have such a problem with underclass Black people people, then they should go down to the hood and mentor them. Well I ask this, what are middle class people supposed to teach as mentors?

Middle-class Black folks are constantly criticized for being out of touch with other Black people, so what should they be teaching? My guess would be that they should teach their students the way the world works and how to adapt or succeed given their circumstances. Mentors would teach what they know, how they live, and what they did to succeed.

Unfortunately, I don’t think their students could handle or accept these lessons. Why? Because Black people are constantly saying those lessons are wrong and it’s just teaching Black folks to be White instead of embracing who they are.  It’s teaching conformity to the mainstream. A mentor should not have to fight to be listened to, a student should just listen and be grateful the mentor has taken the time to try and help. They student must be OPEN and respectful to the mentor’s ideas. If a student isn’t open, doesn’t want to learn, and rejects the mentor’s teaching, then the mentor should leave and find another willing student.

That leads me to think that middle-class Black folks should only try to mentor Black people who embrace middle-class values and goals. You can only teach what you know. If underclass Black folks embrace non-mainstream values and goals then they will have to seek mentors from outside the mainstream. If underclass students want middle-class, mainstream, mentorship then they have to be open to lessons about how to be middle-class and mainstream. If underclass students want non-mainstream lessons and street smarts, then there are many Black folks in their neighborhoods to teach them, and they already are.

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