Having served as Executive Director of a nonprofit that provides mentoring services to minority boys, and having been a mentor to three African American boys, I believe mentoring is needed in the African American community now more than ever before.
When Barack Obama was elected as POTUS in 2008, I was sure we would see an uptick in academic improvement amongst African American males. I was sure that pride amongst young African American boys would swell, and we would see a new generation of black leaders, academics and professionals pursuing excellence after witnessing the historical election of the nation's first African-American president.
Instead, what statistics show, and what I have personally witnessed is a continuing decline in leadership and achievement in school amongst African-American males. In some cases there is a flat out disdain for education and being perceived as a smart in school. When I was in school it was a badge of honor to get good grades. Now many of our boys are dumbing themselves down to fit in. I don't know when this trend started, but it has to stop now.
A 2014 article on statistics of black males in the classroom reports only 54 percent of African Americans graduate from high school compared to 75 percent of their Caucasian and Asian peers. Many of these African-American males are from single parent homes, and do not have fathers in their lives.
Countless African American boys in this country are being raised by women who are doing the very best they can, but face tough challenges especially when a boy becomes a teenager. Some mothers coddle their sons to the point where their sons can't function in society. Some of these young men feel entitled, and they feel like everything should be done for them. If you are doing everything for, and making excuses for your son stop it now. You are not helping him by doing this. People in the real word expect him to act like, and will treat him like a man, not like you have been treating him at home.
Why mentoring matters? As a mentor of African-American boys, I can tell you our young men are in a lot of trouble. Many young African-American men today do not care about education, their appearance, or hard work, and many of them do not have respect for their elders or women. This does not apply to all young African-American men, I know there are some out there that are doing, and trying to do the right thing and are the complete opposite of the young men I described earlier.
I have seen the positive effects of mentoring, and the positive change it can bring to a young person's life. I have seen angry young men with low self esteem come into our program and turn their lives around in a few years with the help and guidance of positive male role models. Any time, you can spend with a child is worth more to them than you can imagine. The problem is there aren't enough mentors stepping up!
We need to start holding ourselves, our children, our teachers, and our school administrators accountable when it comes to our children's education. When we do this; we will finally stop the pipeline that goes from African American neighborhoods straight to the local detention centers, and prisons.
When I was a boy, nearly every man in my neighborhood was a mentor. They made sure we stayed out of trouble. They made sure we were behaving ourselves, and they made sure we were safe and taken care of. All a child needs to flourish is for someone to teach the, take care of them and look out for them. I encourage anyone who is reading this article to become a mentor to a child, and a donor to a mentoring program. Do it today, because there is a child out there that needs you.