What’s the Difference
On the surface, one might feel that the race of either the mentor or the mentee influences the mentoring process. Unfortunately, the wider population tend to agree that it does make a difference, but should it. The answer to that question is no. No, it should not make a difference. What should make a difference is whether the mentor is qualified to mentor the mentee. In all reality, however, we place so much emphasis on the what’s on the outside that we forget that what’s on the inside is more important. It is sad that in the 21st Century that we exert so much energy on the trivial stuff. It is sad because the stuff we hold as important is really not important.
In moving forward, we need to switch our focus to what’s on the inside, we need to start paying more attention to the ability of the mentor and not so much on the ethnicity of the mentor. It should not matter whether the mentor and the mentee belong to different ethnic groups. As long as we continue to focus on the outside, the longer we will languish at the bottom. The same is true for the classroom. If the ethnicity of the mentor or the mentee is what’s important, then the ethnicity of the teachers should also be important. Are we also saying that it is difficult for teachers from one ethnic group to effectively teach students from another ethnic group? Should we abandon integration and go back to the days of segregation? Holding steadfast to the argument that ethnicity does make a difference is saying that we have not made any progress since Brown versus Board. Indirectly, we would also be saying that there is no hope for diversity, and that it is time that we abandon our quest for societal harmony.
Since I do not hold steadfast to that notion, I would be the first to say that one’s ethnicity should not be the major factor in determining the possible outcome of a mentoring program. What should be of importance is one’s qualification, one’s ability to mentor, to teach, or to perform the duties that one is charged with. It makes no difference if the teacher is Black and the student is White. The focus should be, “Is the teacher qualify to teach the student?” “Is the mentor qualified to mentor the mentee?” If the answer is yes, then the ethnicity is of no consequence. Come on, this is the 21st Century. It is time that we move on and start reflecting on the things that are on the inside instead of holding on to the things that are on the outside. It does not matter if the mentor and the mentee are from different races. What should prevail is the ability of one to do the job that one is asked to do and the willingness of the other to be mentored, taught, or led.