Limiting the service provided by a mentor is wrong, especially if the reason for this is race related. This does not allow for either the mentor or the youth to learn about life from a new perspective. Full cooperation amongst people of various races will only occur when we learn about the culture of each race, and we accept the differences from our own.
Mentors have the power to mold the minds of those who will lead our world someday. Gaining knowledge from the perspective of someone different allows the youth to reach beyond his or her world. The importance of this will increase as our world advances through technology. Understanding how to communicate with different races will help encourage connections, which may affect business, media relations and daily life.
For many youth, mentors provide a secure constant that possesses life skills, experience and education. The adults comprehend the need for responsible living and model positive behavior and communication. If the relationship is healthy, race will not affect it in a negative manner. However, allowing race to limit the mentoring may send a signal to the youth that only a mentor with a matching race is acceptable. This may cause an unintentional racist attitude to form.
The website, Solutions for America, www.solutionsforamerica.org, offers these thoughts.
“Mentors who are “results – oriented” and have behavioral goals for children, such as quitting drinking, are less successful than “process oriented” mentors who want to build trust and become a friend and a confidant of a child.” (Johnson, Herrera, Sipe, and McClanahan)
“Programs should match mentors and youth on the basis of shared interests, and youth, mentor and family preference.” (Tierney, Grossman, and Research NL 2000, Dubois et al.)
Race is not mentioned anywhere in the research on the site. A search, via MSN.com, located a myriad of additional mentoring websites. Fewer than half limited mentoring by requiring mentors and youth to match according to race. Mentor.org, www.mentor.org, did and the training program description is, “The AAMTP addresses aspects of the personal, social, and psychological state of the African American male experience and condition.” AATMP stands for African American Male Transition Program.
Although the program helps disadvantaged and troubled youths between the ages of 15 -25, the people involved may not experience the full benefits of mentoring. This is because the program’s focus appears to be for males of the African American race. How can the youth benefit from the mentors if their experiences, upon entering and exiting, are from one race?
Race should not be a factor when choosing a mentoring match. People with decision-making power cannot use it when hiring, firing or promoting employees; allowing an individual to seek election; apply for and receive government assistance; or choose housing options. Some schools do not allow it as a consideration for accepting students and the entertainment industry frowns upon making choices based on race. With all these examples in mind, why would a youth mentoring program allow race to decide a mentoring match? This is detrimental to the advancement of healthy race relations and limits everyone.
I close with this final quote from the Children’s Friend site, www.childrensfriend.net. It accompanies the picture of a young black girl and a white, older woman. The quote reads, “Sharing time and memories with Jasmine has enriched my life.” Race does not appear to be a problem for them. Why should we ever consider it a problem?