Although efforts to ameliorate the lives of young Black males have been primarily led by adults, it’s time tap into the power of having young Black males to mentor other young Black males. In my experience working with and mentoring young Black middle to college males from across the nation, I have found that giving Black males around the same age the opportunity to support one another delivers impressive results. While many adults may not be ready to begin to think about partnering with the youth to improve mentoring efforts, they will find that numerous young people will be willing to listen to other young people much more than they will be willing to listen to adults. In no way am I suggesting that Black adults should turn the important task of mentoring Black male youths completely over to young Black males; however, I posit that young Black males can be meaningful partners in mentoring endeavors. Those of us involved in mentoring young Black male should begin to establish formal organizations and partnerships to advance Black male mentorship, and we should allow capable young Black males to be mentors.
The Black community has to learn to stop looking for those outside of our community to help us to improve ourselves. If we keep looking to those outside of our community to help us, we will never progress. We have what it takes within our own community to enable young Black males to experience success. When we look to identify young Black males who will be good candidates for mentoring other young Black males, it’s not necessary to find “perfect” young Black males to be mentors; you’ll never find “perfect” young Black males—nobody’s perfect. You can, however, locate young Black males who have good behavior and grades, and they can serve as respectable candidates for mentoring other young Black males. In “Mentor A Black Boy, His Life Depends On It” (published by Healthy Black Men), I explained how essential it is for young Black males to have examples of successful Black males in their lives. These examples of successful Black males must include young Black males.
In the postmodern epoch, being “cool” is pervasively popular with young Black males. In all honesty, being “cool” is wildly popular with many adults, regardless of race, ethnicity and gender. Instead doing the almost impossible task of trying to defeat our national (and largely international) era of “cool,” let’s use the concept of cool in a beneficial way. Let’s construct organizations and partnerships in our communities that cause young Black males to see positive notions of success as cool. Young Black males need to know that excelling academically isn’t about “acting White”—it’s being responsible about one’s future, breaking manacles of poverty that ravage too many Black families.
Adults don’t have all of the answers! Our Black children have solutions to many of the challenges they face. Young Black males can become key stakeholders in their own economic, social, professional and academic progression. It’s up to adults to allow them to unleash their stored potential.See some words or phrases that you don't understand? Check out The Dragon's Lexicon.