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Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

In memory of Kareem “So a mentor is almost like -- a person like an angel, your personal angel to watch over you to make sure you get yourself together in school and life.�


Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them Editing contributions, Sarah McCollum and Tricia McCalla. Cover design concept, Frederick D. Patterson. Cover graphics and art, Meghan Reilly Floyd, Reilly Web & Graphic Design, Charlottesville, VA. Public relations and marketing, Angela M. Patterson.


Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them Copyright © 2012 by Rick Patterson All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the author. “Africa,” by Nikki Giovanni, Copyright © 1996 used by permission of author. “Dreams” and “A Dream Deferred,” by Langston Hughes, Copyright © 1994 used by permission of Random House, Inc. Excerpts from Pedagogy of the Oppressed used with permission from the Continuum International Publishing Company. Paulo Freire Copyright © 2000. Excerpts from And we are not saved : the elusive quest for racial justice, used with permission of the publisher. Derrick Bell Copyright © 1987. Excerpts from Black Skin, White Masks by Frantz Fanon, copyright © 1952 by Éditions du Seuil, English translation copyright © 2008 by Richard Philcox. Used by permission of Grove/Atlantic, Inc. Excerpts from A Soldier's Play, by Charles Fuller, Copyright © 1981 used with permission of the author. Excerpt from The Slave Trade: The Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1440-1870, used with permission from Simon and Schuster, Inc. Hugh Thomas, Copyright © 1997. ISBN:978-0-9834023-0-5 Dark Matter(s) Publishing, MIDLOTHIAN, VIRGINIA www.darkmatterspublishing.com


What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore-And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over-like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode? Langston Hughes


CONTENTS

Acknowledgement - i Introduction - ii CHAPTER 1 - THE AWAKENING 1 CHAPTER 2 - HOW DID I GET HERE? 38 CHAPTER 3 - WHAT WOULD CHARLES BARKLEY DO? 107 CHAPTER 4 - WHAT’S YOUR STORY? 132 CHAPTER 5 - NOW I CAN DREAM 182 CHAPTER 6 - PASS IT ON! 228 Bibliography - 243


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I

want to acknowledge the patience and love of my life my wife Denise. My parents Johnetter Anderson, Arthur T. Anderson – especially my Mom – always there when I call; my wonderful children – Tunisha, Coya, Jacqueline, Angela, Frederick (and their spouses, partners and friends), my grandchildren, Brittany, Elijah, Joslyn, and Sydney. My niece Bianca Johnetter, her crew, my nephew Lawrence, and his crew, and most of all my sister Vicky, she’s no longer with us physically, but her talks to me at night, her unwavering love, has made me stronger and wiser. I know you are at peace. I love you back. To all of you who said, or thought, or even knew, I could and would do this, thank you, you’ve been my village. To all of my uncles – particularly my namesake the late Frederick McCollough (Uncle Top) and Willie Drake (Daddy), aunts – especially Pandora who was my Momma before my Momma was my Momma, cousins – Willie and Jimmy Drake who were my role models and frst real mentors, in-laws, and friends who told me or hinted that one day I’d be a doctor, you saw something in me and I’m glad you did, for those words of encouragement, of giving me positive reinforcement has been most benefcial in my personal and professional life and has led to this work. To my colleagues, life coaches and guides, particularly my primary on this project Dr. Randee Lipson Lawrence, as well as Dr. Scipio A.J. Colin III, and Dr. Nancy J. Cooley – when times have been good and when times have been not so good – a friend. Without your support and guidance this would have been more traditional, which is not a bad thing, but it would not have been a reflection of me. Special thanks to Dr. Abby Freeman for her inspiration. To my cohort friends and family, without the love, support and friendship from all of you this surely would not have been possible. Doc 7 rocks! i


INTRODUCTION It is my desire to grow, to change, to evolve into what, I do not know, I do not assume, I do not presume, a child Value my time, my interaction, my reaction to action, my record, my recordings History of me, history of you, history of us, history of them my view Opportunity for connection, selection, convergence, reflection Learn, encompass, obtain, embrace, embody, understand, knowledge Genesis rebirth, change, reinvent, ignite, grow, form, create, evolve, transform, a communityi

When

I was accepted into the Adult and Continuing Education doctoral program at National-Louis University, the faculty began to discuss something called a Critical Engagement Project or CEP for short. The CEP was akin, they said, to a traditional dissertation with the entire academic rigor that a dissertation requires. It was the successful completion of the CEP that would determine graduation. I thought to myself, why not just call it a dissertation then? After all, if it looks like a duck and smells like a duck . . . well you get the point. I was concerned that I’d have to explain the idea of a CEP to my colleagues for the next thirty years or so. I was consumed. Then I started to take classes, flying to Chicago from my home in ii


Richmond, Virginia, on the second Friday of each month from September through April and to the two-week summer institute in Williams Bay, Wisconsin in mid-June. The travel back and forth over the course of three years gave me considerable time to reflect on the classroom content and how that content related to the overall objective of completing my CEP. Voila, the light went on. That’s the point of the CEP; it is to get the novice researcher into the mindset and practical use of critical reflection. In fact, “The Critical Engagement Project will ground research in critical reflection on your life – day-to-day experience – and foster signifcant engagement with the world.” ii Within the CEP are the tenets, which make it – the program – so rich and rewarding and engaging! There are three engagements, expressed as questions that are the structure of the programs research paradigm, Who am I? What are the commitments embedded in my current practice? Who am I becoming?iii Perhaps during the course of reading this work, the reader will get a sense of the power of discovery, the power of deep self reflection and address these and other questions about themselves. It’s funny, because you really don’t know yourself until you begin to write your own history. During the frst two years of the program, I wrote several papers, which had my experiences as a common thread. As I began to evaluate and reflect upon my writings, certain themes began to emerge. I realized I had a strong interest in and on the subject of race and racism in America. My own experiences with race and racism had become central to practically every paper I authored. It was at that time I was introduced to critical race theory, and wow! What a match! I began to see some of the disconnects regarding the criminal justice system: the so-called color blind, fair and balanced system which houses a disproportionate number of Black males in relationship to the general population. It also helped to explain what I now believed was an America that was structurally racist. It was all starting to make sense. My primary research advisor suggested that I look into identity development theory, and particularly Black Identity Development (BID) iii


theory. I began to do some research into the Thomas, Cross, and Jackson models of BIDiv and it was like looking in a mirror, I was going through a period of recycling and felt as if right before my very eyes I was transiting through very real and noticeable stages of development. I was becoming Black – again. So, what is it I want to know? I asked myself. After giving this some thought, I realized that being number one was not all that it’s cut out to be. Black men are number one in incarceration rates – percentage wise,v not good; number one in high school drop out rates – percentage wise,vi not good; number one in HIV transmission,vii not good; number one in unemployment rates, percentage wise, viii not good. Why is this so? Is our place in society predetermined? Feeling somewhat disillusioned, I decided to draw upon my experiences with mentoring to fnd out if there are any connections between mentors and protégés that might provide opportunities to help Black males free themselves from this conundrum. Ultimately, I wanted to know how a positive black male role model/mentor in the home or community impacts the self-identity of Black adult males. The questions that guided me are 1) How do men who have had adult Black male mentors view their opportunities for success? 2) What is the nature of the relationship between mentor and protégé? 3) How does the adult Black male mentor impact the self-image of the protégé? With the help of fve very interesting Black men, I set out to fnd answers to these questions. I used their stories – their narratives – as the foundation for this efort. I hope that you will fnd their narratives as fascinating and diverse as I have.

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Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

CHAPTER 1 THE AWAKENING To be conscious of how difficult the European has made one’s life is to be conscious at a very elemental level. It is like waking from a long sleep. ix

I remember it as

if it were yesterday, when it frst happened. I was scared that people would think I was crazy, hearing voices, making claims, accusations; it’s all kind of surreal now that I look back, but it was life altering. Yes, that it was. So, two years ago, almost to the day, I was attending class for my doctorate, fulflling a dream I’d had for quite some time, my own sense of self-actualization, you know? Anyway, I was attending classes towards my doctorate in Adult and Continuing Education at National-Louis University (this is a shout out) and I recall leaving class on a Friday evening and walking along Adams Street in downtown Chicago, the Loop district to be specifc, towards my hotel with four members of my class cohort: Delores, a brown skinned, athletically built baby boomer from Northern Virginia; Bryce, a short in stature, but long in ideas, silverhaired Canadian from Nova Scotia; Morris, a 40 something, dark haired stout gentleman from Tennessee; and Kaitlin, a blond in her 60’s, with pale skin and a Dutch boy haircut, from the Chicago suburbs. Fall was in the air, and people were beginning to dress with a few more layers, but the weather was really nice, cool and crisp, and you could see the richness of the fading blue sky overhead. As we walked back to the hotel, we chatted about general topics and talked about the 1


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teaching and learning we had just experienced in the classroom. Delores was talking about home and her gardening and lawn back in Virginia, which she was preparing for its annual aeration and seeding. Bryce and Kaitlin joined in and added some value to the discussion, a few minutes later, Morris chimed in, and in his true southern fashion, told a funny story about his grandmother. We laughed and I remember thinking how wonderful storytelling could be, especially when told with confdence and consistency. The four of us continued our walk, and funny, how these things happen, but I began to really notice the homeless people, many of whom were Black (you can say AfricanAmerican if you prefer – no problem with me) and something about the situation just wasn’t right, you know? I caught myself staring at the men’s movements, the way they either approached or were approached by passersby, the way they stared at people with that look that is intended to instill sympathy and guilt simultaneously. In retrospect that should have been my frst hint, but who would have thought that what happened was going to happen? Not me, that’s for sure. We arrived at the hotel and I walked across the lobby and stopped to say hello to the two clerks on duty, Hasina and Kasongo, both whom have origins from Africa, one Egyptian and the other from the Shaba region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I complimented both on their appearance, said goodbye, and took the elevator to my room on the 9th floor. Of course the room was cramped as always at this hotel, but who could beat the price? $65 bucks for a room in the heart of the Loop, nope, I’m only going to complain so much. I put down my black messenger bag and as I began to unzip my sweater, I heard a voice ask me, “So what did you think?” Startled, I jumped back and while doing so tripped over the chair next 2


Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

to the desk and landed on the bed, flat on my back. I gazed around the room to make sure no one was there. I caught my breath, ‘cause now I’m breathing quite heavily and my heart is racing. After a couple of minutes lying there wondering what my next move would be, I got the courage to go to the bathroom to see if the voice came from there. I grabbed the bottle of cabernet I purchased from the drug store the previous night, and I crept to the door doing what most men do, talking to the door and whatever would-be criminal is behind the door, all the time hoping like hell that no one answers. I say, “OK, I got a knife, no kidding, so I’m going to let you leave out the front door and it’s cool. Alright?” As I get closer, you know what happened next, right? I open the door real fast and jump back, lifting the bottle over my shoulder in an attack mode, ready to do what I have to do (which would be to run if I had any common sense, but hey I’m a guy, we do stupid stuf in the name of pride) and to my relief, no one was there. “That was too funny!” the voice said. I jumped back again, but this time, I was getting these shivers, like a ghost or something just passed by me. You know how those little cold bumps appear when you get the shivers? It was like that. I looked around the room again, and I knew no one was in there with me. I looked on the other side of the bed facing the window and nobody was there either. Of course I looked under the bed, I know that’s what you were thinking, right? So, now I was questioning my own sanity. “What if I’m going crazy?” I whispered to myself. “Nope, you are not going crazy,” the voice echoed. It can hear me, I thought. “OK, here’s the deal, I’m the You that you are becoming.” “Who?” “I’m the You that you are becoming. Please don’t ask me to say it

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again.” “Now what?” I say to myself, “It’s a good thing it can’t read my thoughts,” but of course he (or is it I?), could. “Well, frst I’m going to start by telling you that the You that you are becoming is conscious of the fact that those homeless people may be disenfranchised, and yes, the majority of them are Black, which the You that you are becoming recognizes as something that is an issue. But the bigger question is ‘how did they get there?’” Still not comfortable and a little timid, I answered, “What do you mean? I’ve always been conscious and aware of the homeless, and I’ve been places where they are predominantly Black, so how is this anything new?” “It’s because you did not understand that racism, oppression, illiteracy, slavery, hegemony, and many more -isms and words that end with a -y are at the root of the problem. There was much fear in you when it came to these issues, particularly race, and you are still fearful. Think about when you talked about race and used the terms ‘black’ and ‘white,’ you used the little ‘b’ and little ‘w’. Recall how you whispered to your friends and family and pointed to some part of your body, either the back of your hands or arms as a symbol, an easy, sneaky, cowardly substitute for Black, and the palms of your hands as a symbol for White.” I didn’t acknowledge “the You,” who is peering into my self, looking beyond the mask that I have donned, and piercing into my soul. Yes, he (or it) is certainly much more than “the You” he is “the Soul.” In fact, this intervention has unlocked a memory that I had long forgotten, one buried deep into my subconscious, that is now eager to resurrect itself into my conscious thoughts. As if on cue, I heard, “By the way, wanna talk about it now?” It was the Soul. “Talk about what?” I said. “Your experience with racism? It might be therapeutic,” he said.

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“OK,” I said, fascinated by the fact he knows what’s at the forefront of my thoughts, and began to internalize. In the early 70's, I moved to Louisiana, Raceland to be precise, with my mother, sister and stepfather as a result of his layof from a job in Cleveland, Ohio. One day, after we had been living there for several months, I was asked by my step-cousins to attend the show (a movie theatre) in nearby Thibodaux. I was extremely excited; moviegoing was then and continues to be one of my favorite pastimes. I recall rushing to the ticket line, wanting to be the frst one of our group (which consisted of two step-cousins and a friend) to get into the theatre. After I got in line, my step-cousin called me. “Hey Ricky, what chu doin?” I responded, “I’m gon' be the frst to git my ticket!” He countered, “Git yo butt outta line!” “No!’ I shouted.” I knew he was mad that I was going to be frst; I won! It had not dawned upon me that I was the only Black person in line. Not once. After a couple of shouts back and forth, he and my other step-cousin came and pulled me out of the line, me kicking and screaming the entire time. When they constrained me, I looked back at the line, on the verge of tears, thinking we would not go to the movies that day. He said, “We still goin to the movie, so hush up!” I was suddenly placated, but unsure, because we continued walking towards the side of the theatre. I then noticed the metal steps that led up to the mezzanine section of the movie and I was beginning to think we were going to sneak in. But, I thought, all those people are gonna know what we’re doing and we will certainly get caught. I didn’t care. When we got to the mezzanine section, after climbing the two flights of stairs, it was a huge disappointment. There were approximately three rows of chairs, with about six seats per row. There was a glass counter

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with three maybe four pieces of candy, two bags of pre-packed popcorn, and no fountain drinks. I sat through the movie, wondering why I could not go downstairs and get some fresh popcorn, a drink and some candy. My mother had given me enough money but my cousin continued to constrain me. As we left the movie, I started thinking that something was not quite right but I could not put it in context. I asked my step-cousin again, why we did not go to the main floor, and shared my disappointment with him. Finally, out of earshot of anyone not in our group, he looked around, then looked at me straight on and told me, “Niggahs don’t go through the front doh down heah, we gotta go up them back stairs!” In the back of my mind I could here a voice getting louder and louder. It was the Soul trying to get me back from my thoughts. “Dude,” I said, “why are you shouting at me?” “’Cause you were lost, my handsome, dark Brotha!” “Well, at least you recognize!” I said, and then I started laughing (at myself mind you – and if you are confused, how the hell do you think I felt). “But seriously,” said the Soul “all that reading, writing, and research you are doing, studying about Black identity development theory and critical race theory, that all has a place, you know? It helps you understand the way things are regarding race, racism, and your notion of it. The readings you’ve been doing on colonialism and white privilege, these give you some idea that there has been and continues to be some power disconnects in the world.” “What am I missing?” I asked. “It’s not that you are missing anything, it’s all there right in front of you, just see it for what it is. As I said, you were – are – lost. Lost in an illusion of Blackness.” “Meaning?” I asked, stinging from that comment.

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Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

“Meaning that you don’t really know who you are as a Black man. Not to worry, you are not alone, for most Black men don’t either.” “Then who are we?” “Well before we talk about that, let me share some of my thoughts with you, particularly related to the plight of the Black male. We are not all homeless, though metaphorically, I think homelessness is related to being lost without shelter, without a home we can call our own. Maybe we are still struggling to fnd our home here in America,” he said. “My curiosity is peaked, tell me more,” I replied. “Alright. The Black male is unique in the type of stereotypical duality that is ascribed to him.” Whatever that means, I thought. “On the one hand he is portrayed as physically strong and fast, with great leaping ability, whose athletic prowess and confdence seemingly knows no boundaries. He is the image on many football and basketball highlight reels.” “I’m following,” I said. “Cool,” said the Soul. “Now on the other hand he is portrayed as emotionally volatile, you know, unintelligent, weak, a troublemaker with low self-esteem and little moral capacity, the poster child for many political criminal debates, and welcome guests of the American criminal justice and correctional systems. Here’s an example. Think of the football player Michael Vick.” “Oh yeah,” I said. The Soul continued, “OK, he is one of the most gifted athletes to come along in years. Fast, quick, a rocket for an arm.” I interrupted, “I remember the dog fghting ring.” “Hold on, I’m getting to that, let me fnish.” I could sense he was a little perturbed, so I said nothing. “He is a really good quarterback with a winning record, but the knock

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on him is that he can’t dissect a defense like a Peyton Manning or Drew Brees, the implication is that he isn’t smart enough, and then to your point, he gets himself tied up in the dog fghting ring and now his moral character is in question. Of course he became yet another Black man in the criminal justice system. Can you say Mike Tyson? See my point? Both were adored and even idolized for their athletic gifts, but outside the lines, a diferent story.” “Yeah, and that bothers me. Something is really wrong when we have so many of our Black males incarcerated.” “It should bother you, it should bother everybody, but not all of us are willing to see. That’s why it’s important to go beyond what you see at face value and dig a little deeper, you know, look at the history of the problem. Check out how each person’s experience factors into their personality, their behavior, their self-identity, and see how history has impacted them, the internal - and revisit our presence in America, why we are here, how and why the Black man is still fghting the system – the external.”

So It Begins I let his words sink in a little, trying to fully understand the internal and external that he has put forth, and asked, “So why exactly have you come? I mean I recognize that there are problems in the Black community, and in particular with Black men. That’s not news. If you are here to tell me that we have problems, I know that and get that. What we need (and I emphasized need) are solutions, not rehashing of the same problems. Anybody can do that,” I said, somewhat flustered. “Correct, we need solutions, that’s exactly why I’m here. And to help, I’m going to make you into a mentor. Well, let me rephrase that, I’m going to talk to you about how mentors can make a diference in this world, and maybe just maybe after kicking some knowledge I will have shown you the power of mentoring.” 8


Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

“The power?” I asked. “Yes, the power. In fact you should know the power considering your history of mentoring. You have always been a mentor. Don’t you remember all the calls you got from young men you met while you were in the Air Force? Thanking you for keeping them on track to go and fnish school. This helped them to become the men they were meant to be. In your old neighborhood, you were a role model – granted that’s not necessarily a mentor, but you did kick a little knowledge back then too, which was a looong time ago,” he said. “OK, I’ll give you that. But it still doesn’t answer the question,” I said. “Patience. I’ve invited some friends, I call them the Brothas, who have had mentors – adult Black males mentoring other adult Black males – so you can make some sense out of the whole mentor and protégé relationship and pass that information along to others. Let me give you their names so at least you’ll have a clue when they arrive: Kareem, Pierre, Daniel, Rock, and Adisa. Brothas I’ve met along the way that have wide ranges of education, religious views, ages, wealth, and careers, among other things. Perhaps we can build an army of mentors and they all won’t have to talk to themselves like you do. By the way, people are going to think you’re crazy you know, talking to yourself and all. But I got your back.” I could feel a smile, perhaps his way of helping me to relax. “Before we move on, why are we only interested in Black man-to-man mentoring? I’ve known people who have mentors that are not the same race or even gender,” I said. “Let me go a little bit into mentoring and I hope during the discussion, actually more like my lecture, you will get that question answered. Fair enough?” Eager to move forward, I asked, “So, what is mentoring? I think I know what it is, but how would you defne it?”

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“Let me give you my defnition,” an unfamiliar voice stated. Though the Soul had attempted to prepare me for this I was startled by the voice, deep and clear with a slight southern twang. It was one of the Brothas. “Who are you?” I asked. “I am Daniel Barnes. I am a 41-year-old schoolteacher living in central Virginia. I met ‘the Soul’ at the barber shop and he asked if I might talk to you at some point, so here I am.” “Cool. So how do you defne mentoring?” I responded. He began. Mentoring is some portion -- in some parts of it, it's a genuine friendship. It's a genuine concern to see decisions that the one who you are mentoring, that you can see some of your influence in decisions that that person makes…You know, (a mentee) is someone -- that can be taught, that is willing to listen. You know, not coming in the door with all the answers. Not coming in the door saying I done heard this, done that and got the t- shirts. No, you don't know everything. No, you weren't blessed to have all knowledge. No, you don't know everything that I'm here to try and teach you and instill in you. And so with that, it becomes imperative on the part of the mentee to have a teachable spirit…being one that can take what is being taught and then apply it. Daniel’s defnition of mentoring was one that I could understand and appreciate. With his slight southern accent, I could sense that he comes from a strong family. When he talked about not coming in the door with all of the answers, I could almost feel the influence of a strong father. I envisioned his father saying, “Daniel, come over here and listen” and a 10


Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

young Daniel would cautiously walk toward his father and listen intently as his father taught him one of life’s many lessons. “Good answer Daniel,” the Soul said. He paused, and then continued on. “Well, there are a lot of defnitions of mentors and mentoring. I’m going to cite a few from the literature that’s out there, then I’ll tell you my defnition, and I’m sure it will answer your other question regarding Black men in a mentoring relationship.” After that he said, “Thanks Daniel for checking in.” “No problem. Well, I’m out for now. I’ll be checking in again later.” It was Daniel, bidding us farewell. “Cool,” I said. The Soul continued. “Thomas Shandleyx describes mentoring as an intentional process involving interaction between two or more individuals…and as a nurturing process that involves the growth and development of the protégé. Mentoring is an insightful process in which the wisdom of the mentor is acquired and applied by the protégé. Kathryn Moore and Marilyn Ameyxi defne mentoring as a ‘form of professional socialization wherein the more experienced individual acts as a guide, role model, teacher and patron of a less experienced protégé, whose aim is the development and refnement of the young person’s skills, abilities, and understanding.’ Herbert Coker introduces, the term ‘cultural mentoring’ defned ‘as the process by which a protégé is nurtured by a mentor that is of the same culture or by one that is culturally sensitive.’” xii “So my defnition of mentoring kind of takes a little from each. To me, mentoring is a one on one relationship based upon trust, communication, respect, and commitment, between two people of similar racial, gender, social, and cultural backgrounds. The purpose of the relationship is to educate and guide. It’s like an unwritten contract of sorts, whereby the two parties agree upon their roles in the relationship. 11


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The mentor provides motivation, guidance and direction, based primarily on his or her lived experience within the racial, gender, social and cultural setting. The protégé takes the role of learner, seeker of knowledge, student and interpreter. The diference then in my defnition is the racial, gender, social and cultural piece. I use those diferentiators because I don’t believe a person can prepare you for certain things unless they have a personal knowledge of those things.” “Walked in your shoes?” I asked. “Yes.” “For example, a White man can indeed provide motivation, guidance and direction to a Black man, but can he truly understand racial inequality from a Black perspective? In other words, if the mentorprotégé relationship were missing either of these elements (racial, gender, social and cultural), then I would classify the relationship as a guide-follower relationship. Otherwise, I believe it’s an exercise in assimilation – whether knowingly or unknowingly. Check this out from Peggy McIntosh, a White woman, as she becomes self-aware of her position:” My schooling gave me no training in seeing myself as an oppressor, as an unfairly advantaged person, or as a participant in a damaged culture. I was taught to see myself as an individual whose moral state depended on her individual moral will. My schooling followed the pattern my colleague Elizabeth Minnich has pointed out: whites are taught to think of their lives as morally neutral, normative, and average, and also ideal, so that when we work to beneft others, this is seen as work that will allow “them” to be more like “us.” xiii “That’s interesting,” I said. “So, consciously or not, they are teaching 12


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their followers to become more White?” “Yes, that’s what I believe,” he said, and continued. “Think of the guide as that person who knows well the path that you are trying to walk. Now, the guide can clearly lead you down the path, because he’s been there, done that. He can steer you through the danger spots, and get you to the destination unscathed. The guide is leading and you’re following, but are you learning?” He paused for emphasis. “Now, take the same guide and let that guide take a fellow villager down the path. The guide will stop to explain in detail the types of plants, berries, hazards, alternate routes, even history, so that the villager is prepared not only for the path but for the forest, and life within it.” Before I could respond, the Soul broke in quickly, “One more point, even in this example, if the guide were male, he would take the male villager through a diferent experience than a female, and if the guide were female, she would take a female through a diferent experience than a male; so, if they were similar (racial, gender, social, cultural) then by my defnition they would be in a true mentorprotégé relationship.” I replied, “So, it’s the lived experience of the mentor and how the lived experience is interpreted by the protégé which underlies the context, and it’s the context, the environment, that determines whether you consider the relationship mentor-protégé or guide-follower.” “Yes.” “I think I’m clear on the defnition and the concept. Is that all?” “It’s all for now, we’ll go into more detail later. By the way, when we talked earlier about building an army of mentors, what I had in mind was this idea of an army of ‘activist’ mentors. Let me explain.” “This form of mentoring ‘activist’ would have as its goal to increase awareness among protégés of the realities of racism, oppression and other inequities in our society and empower them to make changes to

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their psychosocial condition, through ‘transformative knowledge.’ xiv According to James Banks, ‘…knowledge is influenced by human interests; that all knowledge reflects the power and social relationships within society, and that an important purpose of knowledge construction is to help people improve society’. xv Michelle Jay adds, ‘that the teaching of transformative knowledge empowers traditionally marginalized groups – most often racial minorities. However, the empowering of marginalized groups potentially alters the prevailing power relations.’” xvi “Man, those sound like really good ideas,” I said. “But honestly, they are pretty complicated. Can you break it down in terms that I can understand without asking you to repeat it again and again?” “OK, here’s the deal. Activist mentors help protégés to liberate themselves from oppression, and as a result they not only better understand themselves, but they can better serve society as a whole,” said the Soul. “Remember what I said earlier, the goal is to increase awareness among protégés of the realities of racism, oppression and other inequities in our society and empower them to make changes to their psychosocial condition through transformative knowledge. Transformative knowledge is simply the awareness that these concerns exist.” “I see. So in a nutshell, activist mentors help their protégés interpret the realities in society and empower them to make change.” “Yes, but don’t forget the psychological aspect. These mentors help the protégés come to terms with their psychological albatross as well.” I nodded to acknowledge my understanding, and he moved on. “Examples of individuals, whom I will categorize as ‘activist’, were W.E.B. Du Bois, Carter G. Woodson, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Derrick Bell, Frantz Fanon, Huey Newton, Paulo Freire, Frederick Douglass, and certainly Marcus Garvey.” “That’s an impressive list and there are many, many more,” I said, 14


Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

becoming aware of my connection with those Black men and others who served to keep us aware of the omnipresent role of racism and oppression, but more importantly, to help us see that we have the power to make change. “Now just imagine if these great men had protégés, and the protégés had protégés, and so on and so on, we would have by now hundreds of Woodsons, Douglass’, and Garveys. Say Amen.” “Amen.” “OK, but I do have another question, is that cool?” I asked. “Yes, go ahead.” “So, when I talk to all of the Brothas, what do I need to know from them?” “I was waiting for you to ask, you know, Brotha, I’m starting to really like you, and respect you, even though you have a long journey ahead. Here’s the deal, let’s – I mean you – should be seeking answers to these questions: How do men who have had adult Black male mentors view their opportunities for success? What is the nature of the relationship between mentor and protégé? How does the adult Black male mentor impact the self-image of the protégé?” “Great questions,” I said, “I’ll be willing to bet that I’m not supposed to ask these questions directly, but rather to probe to fnd out how these men interact within the mentor-protégé relationships.” “Absolutely,” he said. “How do you defne success? I mean that could be anything,” I asked. “Well, I am defning success as anyone who makes a positive contribution to the community. So, anyone can be successful if they have a job and pay a tax, that’s success. Now some may have more material things, more money, more public prestige, but all who ft into that category are successful. You OK with that?” “Actually, I am more than OK with that. I think it says to the Black

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man: It’s not all about the money; it’s about family, community, social awareness, and education among other things. We are more than just the bling, you know?” “Brotha, now you talking to me. What are your other questions?” “Well what do you mean about the nature of the relationship between the mentor and protégé? What information are you trying to get from that question?” I asked. “Another good question. What we should be looking for here are those factors that make the relationship work or don’t work. For example, what are the characteristics of the mentor? Are there any values that are preferred more than others? Do they engage in conversation about social, personal and professional issues – all, nothing, some? We are looking at relationships that have evolved in an informal setting, so how did they come to meet?” “I see. I guess by the last question, you, rather we, are trying to fgure out how the protégé sees himself. Has the relationship with the mentor been one that has made him feel better about himself? Has it given him the opportunity to Dream?” I said. “Brotha, you are smarter than I thought, and yes to all of the above! But in case you thought this was the end, a little knowledge about mentoring, you were mistaken. We have far to travel, a lot of streets, some main highways, some back roads, and a few trails. We are going to fnd out more about the social factors that have contributed to the Black man being where he is today.” “I’m on board, let’s ride,” I said feeling a little corny and a little cool, but a lot enlightened. “Let’s start our journey by using this quote from Robert Staples, who said, “Black men face certain problems related to institutional racism and environments which often do not prepare them very well for the fulfllment of masculine roles. In addition to the problems created by

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Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

institutional and overt discrimination, they encounter the negative stereotyping that exists on all levels about them: being socially castrated, insecure in their male identity, and lacking in a positive self-concept.” xvii “That’s some pretty heavy stuf he’s saying. Do you know what he means, what he’s trying to get across?” asked the Soul. “I think so,” I responded. “I think he is saying that racism is so pervasive that no matter where a Black man goes, whether public or private, he has to face some negative thoughts and ideas about him. Even in his studies, with the exception of token actors, there are no real contributors to the knowledge base that are Black like him, no Selfethnic reflectors.” xviii “Go on,” said the Soul. “And as a consequence of that, he generally lacks the self-confdence to face it. He might even be saying, ‘Damn, you think that’s who I am, then I’m gonna be that!’ Perhaps not understanding that he is playing right into the stereotype, and so the cycle just continues.” Though I couldn’t see him, I could feel the Soul looking at me and pondering what I had just said. Then he added, “So who is the ‘real’ Black male?” I sensed he wanted to tie in his thoughts about the dual images of the Black man. “Of course, he is some of each and he has many other qualities not ascribed by these stereotypes. However, in a society where the media has a great deal of influence on how we perceive others and ourselves, it is these two images that are the prevailing view of the Black male. These images of the Black man emerge from and are a product of a past that began with capture and enslavement, and have been compounded by White superiority, commodifcation, racism, and oppression.” “OK,” I cut in, “I understand White superiority, racism and oppression, but what is commodifcation?” 17


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“Yes, I guess it does need some explanation,” he said. “I’ll use Stephen Brook feld’s de fnition. He describes commodifcation as ‘the process by which a human quality or relationship becomes regarded as a product, good, or commodity to be bought and sold on the open market.’” xix “I guess then, based on what you just said, slavery is the ultimate form of commodifcation,” I said. “Yes,” he agreed, “I think it is. Let me explain in more detail.” “Remember Brotha that Black men in America have been subjugated to White enslavement, superiority, racism and oppression almost from the onset of European settlement and subsequent colonization of America. Viewed upon as a commodity, Black men, through the vessel of Black women were brought into the world for only one purpose and that was to provide labor to the slave owner. I know this is hard for you, but it was kind of like breeding horses, bulls, or any other animal where strength and genetic makeup were important to maintain and sustain good stock, and increase the value of the herd. Cheryl Harris, says this, ‘the critical nature of social relations under slavery was the commodifcation of human beings.’”xx As I took a moment to reflect on all that I just heard, I could not help the tears welling in me, thinking about my ancestors in a slave shack, constantly watched and not only performing labor, but being evaluated for breeding. My thoughts envisioned a loving Black couple torn apart because the White master mated the woman with another male slave, perhaps because the other slave was perceived to be of better stock and breed, or perhaps because the other slave was a good sire. Other thoughts invaded. I began to think about the White master taking a woman, any woman he wanted, and fathering children which he had no obligation to, nor would ever acknowledge as his own, though the color could not be mistaken; rape without consequences. 18


Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

The Soul must have understood this (of course he did) and recited from Mary Frances Berry (describing the work of Callie House, an exslave who fought for reparations): Through cajoling and explaining, House inspired the old ex-slaves to exercise their rights as citizens to demand repayment for their long sufering. She urged them not to give up despite continued oppression and listened as they shared stories of their lives under slavery. Often in tears, aging and ailing men and women recalled being treated as less than human during their years of unpaid labor for masters who sexually abused slave women, broke families apart, and who had “the power to whip them to death.”xxi “I feel your pain, Brotha. But there is more. Ready?” he asked. “Yes,” I said, rubbing my eyes, “go ahead.” The Soul continued, “Here’s more from the legal scholar Cheryl Harris, ‘In 1662, the Virginia colonial assembly provided that “(c)hildren got by an Englishman upon a Negro woman shall be bond or free according to the condition of the mother…” In reversing the usual common law presumption that the status of the child was determined by the father, the rule facilitated the reproduction of one’s own labor force. Because the children of Black women assumed the status of their mother, slaves were bred through Black women’s bodies.’” xxii “They got us three ways on this one. White man with Black woman = slave. Black man with Black woman = slave. Black man with White woman = Death!” exclaimed the Soul. “Isn’t it funny that whenever White people need to make something ft them, to meet their needs, they can always fnd a way to do so? Their interests are always being served,” I said, thinking out loud. “What do these passages and notes mean to you?” he asked. 19


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“Well,” I said, “like any commodity, the need to have the resource as cheap as possible, as maintenance-free as possible, and with minimum investment was the primary goal of the slave owner. Hence, there was indeed an efort to make the species strong. Considerable thought was put into the breeding of the Black male to get the maximum return on the owner’s investment. Damn, I’m getting very angry about this, why didn’t you come sooner? I mean, I never really thought about my ancestors being bred. I knew a little about slavery, but never really got into it that deep. I wish I had learned more about it – I guess I should take some responsibility for my lack of knowledge.” “Yes, you should,” said the Soul in a saddened tone, as he continued. “According to James Comer, ‘The slaver and the slave-holder viewed themselves as agents of God, bringing religion, light and civilization to black heathens. These rationalizations “poisoned” the social atmosphere of America toward blacks and frmly established the notion of White superiority and Black inferiority...Consciously, slave-owners, and the White population in general conspired to create and maintain a selfinebriating strategy of superiority over the African.’ xxiii This was in all cultural contexts of which denial of freedom was at the foundation, and the suppression of education, ideas, ideals and most importantly free will were the primary tools used to build and maintain it.” “Can you believe that? How arrogant can a race of people be?” said the Soul. “OK. I’m getting your points, as painful as they may be.” “Yes, but before I leave this point let me share this revelation from Carter G. Woodson, in his 1933, The Mis-Education of the Negro, he noted,” At a summer school two years ago, a white instructor gave a course on the Negro, using for his text a work which teaches that whites are 20


Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

superior to the blacks. When asked by one of the students why he used such a textbook the instructor replied that he wanted them to get that point of view. Even schools for Negroes, then are places where they must be convinced of their inferiority. xxiv The Soul’s in-your-face discussion of commodifcation, slavery and White superiority has been, in a word, chilling. I know we are going to talk about racism next, and I can’t help thinking about it. As I reflect on the racial landscape of America, I can see the social and psychological “gorillas” that continue to cling stead fast to the torso of the Black man. The need to play out the roles into which he has been programmed to accept is ingrained in him through hundreds of years of physical abuse, experimentation, torture, terror, mis-education, oppression, trickery, murder, constitutional hypocrisy, debasement, and White superiority, all of these threats to the psychological welfare of the Black male can easily be placed under the broader category of racism. “Hold on to those thoughts,” the Soul interrupted. “Brotha you are right, I want to share a little knowledge about racism; it’s a pretty big cookie, so I’m going to break it down into a few chewable bites, OK?” Following his metaphor, I said, “I’m hungry, go ahead.” “Wait!” I said. “So it just occurred to me, were Black people branded? Like cattle or other livestock?” He answered very matter of factly, “Yes, they were. In fact, the Portuguese started this practice and it soon spread throughout the nations that gained wealth from the practice of slavery:” Each European nation during the slaving centuries had its special procedures. Thus slaves landed at São Tome were branded with a cross on the right arm in the early sixteenth century; but, later, this design was changed to a “G,” the marca de Guiné. Slaves 21


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exported from Luanda were often branded not once but twice, for they had to receive the mark of the Luso-Brazilian merchants who owned them as well as the royal arms --- on the right breast --- to signify their relation to the Crown. Sometimes, baptism led to the further branding of a cross over the royal design. Slaves of the Royal Africa Company were marked, with a burning iron upon the right breast, “DY,” duke of York, after the chairman of the company. xxv “Now young Black men think it’s cool to be branded a ‘G’, how ironic,” I said. The Soul continued. “This practice lasted until around 1870 for the actual branding. But you know what? From a psychological standpoint it still exists. As I see it, the brand that the slavers and the White people of that era left us, which seems to be everlasting is the word and psychological efects of being called a Nigger.” “Before you say anything, think about what that term meant. It meant being branded, the class of an animal – or lower – little or no self-esteem, little or no human value,” he said. “Now young men and women supposedly use the word as a term of endearment? Please! They don’t understand that they are perpetuating the psychological hold that the word has on Black people. It’s like getting a branding freebee, like putting Nigger on the back of every car in America and proudly displaying it. Understand this, I believe that when a Black person frst began calling another Black person a Nigger, it meant that he or she actually thought they were superior to the other person. It was like telling somebody they were the lowest piece of crap on the earth. ‘I’m Black and I’m a slave, but you, you’re nothing more than a Nigger!’” 22


Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

He turned to me. “I know you’ve used the term in your youth and even as an adult, so don’t try to look away or hide from it, it’s real.” “Yeah, but I think the term is like a rallying cry for today’s youth and even my generation,” I said, not really believing any of it just lashing out defensively. “Oh yeah, how?” he said. I said, “It’s like the one thing we own, nobody can jack it, it’s ours to be used freely, it represents our defance against racism and oppression.” “That’s a crock of bull!” he said, and went on. “The only thing Nigger represents is a historical link to all of the ills that were bestowed upon African slaves in America, now Black Americans. If Black people totally eradicated that word from their vocabulary, just took it out and got rid of it, guess what? If it’s used again, most likely Whites will use it, and you would know the true nature of their usage. Right now, a White person can use the term and act like it’s a term of endearment, they hear it on the streets and surely in songs, so they are enabled. Don’t even give them that power. Just let it go. Trust me it will go a long way to healing the psychological wounds of several generations of Black Americans. If we want to honor those that came before us, we owe it to their memory to eradicate ‘Nigger’ from our use. Where were we?” he said emphatically. Before I could answer, I was lost in my own thoughts about the use of the so-called “N-word.” I recalled in my mind on-going debates within the Black community, involving clergy, actors, singers, writers, scholars and rappers, all passionate about their use, mis-use, and non-use of the word. It seems that I’ve been on both sides of that debate and more or less it appears to be a function of age and experience. As one get’s older and presumably wiser, they tend to see the world diferently, without the weight of peer pressure and pop culture holding them down. I think this allows them to put the N-word in a historical perspective and place it

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where it has always belonged, consciously incinerated into dust and ash, into non-existence. “I believe you were beginning to discuss racism,” I said, giving the Soul an opportunity to transition. “OK, now understanding racism is no easy task. Yes, one could step out into the world (at least in a typical US locality), go to the grocery store and see all of the magazine racks at the checkout station and struggle to fnd a Black face on any of the covers, or turn on to network television during prime time and ask where are all of the Black actors, or tune in to C-Span only to fnd out that not one Senator in this sprawling nation has a Black face.” “So, defning racism is complex considering the vastness of the problem. It’s built into every governmental, political, economic, and social construct that we have on a macro scale; it is permanent xxvi it also rears its head on a daily basis on a micro scale in the guise of ‘microaggressions’xxvii which are ‘brief and commonplace daily, verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.’”xxviii “Yeah, I’ve known people who’ve made comments to the efect that they are always late, or like this one time I heard one of my supervisors describe a Black woman as only having the ability to become an assistant nurse. In those days, I was reluctant to challenge comments of that nature, and perhaps, actually did know what the meaning behind the comment was, but didn’t have a name for it. Now I know.” “In fact, let me share this with you,” I continued. The Soul remained silent. Well, I was on a flight from Philadelphia to Las Vegas to visit my children and grandchildren. I was pleased 24


Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

because I was upgraded to frst class due to the amount of points I’d accumulated with this particular airline, which has a hub in Philadelphia. Anyway, to the point, I was sitting next to an older White man, approximately 70 years in age. We struck up a conversation, nothing specifc, you know, just hello where you from and that kind of thing. So, he reflected on the fact that I lived in Virginia, and mentioned to me that he visited relatives in Virginia in the late 60’s, in Williamsburg to be specifc. He said that being from Pennsylvania, he had no idea of prejudice, when he said that I remember looking at him thinking that racism is not and was not unique to the south, but I did not interrupt. He said, “When I went down south to visit, I noticed that a lot of Blacks or African-Americans,” I interrupted him and said I preferred Black. He continued, “OK, a lot of Blacks were driving around in Cadillac’s with the antennas and diamonds cut into the back.” I said nothing just looked at him and he continued. “They couldn’t get houses so they all bought Cadillac’s and lived in shacks.” At this I had to keep my cool and said to him, “Well, I think that’s stereotypical and you must watch too much television.” He said, “Beg your pardon?” “Well, I’m Black and I don’t remember anybody on my street driving around in Cadillac’s, and we all had housing,” then added, “When I lived farther south in Louisiana, nobody I knew owned a

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Cadillac. White people tend to have this stereotypical view of Black people, but I’m here to tell you that the vast majority of Black people did not and would not live like that.” At this he said, “Well, they couldn’t get houses, so they bought expensive cars to make up for it.” “That’s true, the implementation of federal policies for housing loans defnitely discriminated against people of color, particularly Black people. But, we didn’t all go out and buy Cadillac’s to get our piece of the American dream.” “Well, perhaps you are right, its just that’s what I remember.” “Yes, you probably did see someone in a Cadillac who was Black, but I doubt if you saw all of the Black people in Williamsburg driving around in Cadillac’s and living in shacks.” At that, the conversation ended, and during the remainder of the flight, another three hours, he tried to be cordial and we made small talk. I felt empowered to have challenged his story which I’m certain he’s told many people over the years, both White and Black, but mainly Whites and has transmitted that inaccuracy about Black people to two or three generations of family and friends. “Frantz Fanon has a passage that I think fts this defnition of microaggressions,” said the Soul. To speak gobbledygook to a Black man is insulting, for it means he is the gook. Yet, we’ll be told, there is no intention to willfully give ofense. OK, but it is precisely this absence of will – this offhand manner; 26


Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

this casualness; and the ease with which they classify him, imprison him at an uncivilized and primitive level – that is insulting.xxix “It (racism) is the paradoxical fabric of the American culture, for without it we could never have become a world economic power so quickly and with it we can never really become the great nation the world believes we can be. Considering the sheer number of authors, scholars, activists, playwrights, directors, etc., who have tried to address this issue, I will try to capture a defnition which best serves this discussion.” “Got that?” he asked. “Yep, still with you.” “Racism is, by some, considered more or less a by-product of capitalist ideology.xxx However, this idea gives it too much credence and legitimacy. It is rooted in economics for sure, but the seed of economics, of the power of property and possession has germinated far beyond economics to more of a struggle for total dominance of one culture, one people, over another. Comer suggests that it is a low level defense mechanism, which leads to group conflict.” xxxi “Group conflict here is an understatement,” I said. The Soul went on, “It is ‘any program or practice of discrimination, segregation, persecution, or mistreatment based on membership in a race or ethnic group.’xxxii This is a good defnition, but I have one problem with it. It focuses too much on the victimization of the persecuted, implying overt intent; it generalizes racism so that the assumption is any group can practice it. Racism as practiced and constructed today is not always overt, as we know, and in my opinion can only be practiced by those in power, which in America are Whites. Without power, who cares and who is really harmed?” he asked 27


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rhetorically, and continued. “I will use as my working defnition David Wellman’s ‘culturally sanctioned beliefs which, regardless of the intentions involved, defend the advantages Whites have because of the subordinated positions of racial minorities.’xxxiii I’ll just add a couple of things here. I would say that not only are the beliefs culturally sanctioned but so is the practice. In addition, not only do they defend the advantages of Whites, but enhance them as well. The key terms are culture, which allows it to germinate; intentions, which eliminates naiveté; and subordinated, which implies power.” “So your defnition of racism is, ‘culturally sanctioned beliefs and practices which, regardless of the intentions involved, defend and enhance the advantages Whites have because of the subordinated positions of racial minorities?’” I asked. “Yes,” he said with little hesitation. My mind immediately resurfaced the event in Louisiana. The words that my cousin spoke echoed even louder in my conscious, ‘Niggahs don’t go through the front doh down heah, we gotta go up them back stairs!’ After thinking about that time in my life, when innocence seems to have been snatched away from me, I sought out the Soul, and said, “I’m beginning to see your purpose. You are like my fairy godfather.” “No!” he shouted, “Brotha that’s some western European crap, how you gonna say fairy godfather to me with a straight face after all we’ve been talking about? Please!” We were silent for a few seconds. I was close to a mea culpa but resisted, I knew I was on the wrong track, so I just took my medicine. Calming down a bit, he said, “I have a surprise for you.” Not even a second had passed when suddenly I heard, “Hey man, you want to hear my story?” said another voice from nowhere. It was another one of the Brothas sent by the Soul. 28


Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

This voice sounded familiar, but I couldn’t quite put a fnger on it. I replied, “Cool.” Which was how I felt, now much more comfortable with alien voices jumping in on our conversations. Laughing out loud, the voice said, “It’s me, Rock James, from Korea.” That laugh. Now I remember where I recognized the voice. I should have guessed when the Soul told me the name. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve seen or heard from him. My thoughts flashed back to my years in the U.S. Air Force and the year in Seoul, Korea during a tour of duty at Yongsan Army Installation. I had a young Black weather observer who worked with me, and whom I mentored, Rock James, loud and proud, and highly intelligent. “Hey Rock, it’s great to hear your voice!” I said in a semi-shout. “The Soul invited me here to help you with your mentoring research. But right now, I want to share my story with you about my encounter with racism, we will defnitely be talking more about mentoring.” “Alright. Let’s hear your story,” I said in a joyous tone. Rock began. I mean, growin’ up in Virginia, before moving to Maryland, I ran into several racial incidents. I remember livin’ – and I lived the next street over from a community in Matoaca, Virginia. The name of the community was Trojan Woods. At that time, it was one of the most prominent Black communities. That’s where all the professors lived. They taught at the local HBCU. So I always knew you could (be somebody), but on the way home one day, I had a lot of things that occurred to me that were negative. I mean, White people, ridin’ past me, throwin’ 29


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their beer cans, open up their doors, callin’ me a “nigger,” the n-word... That was my frst instance. And then goin’ to the local high school was a – it was a school that I would say, at that time, that was 70 percent White, 30 percent Black. And you know me, I’m a very ethnic black man. I believe in what I believe in. I believe that we’re the greatest. I believe that we could have it all. I was just raised that way, but society will tell you other things. And I remember in the ninth grade, it was this young White girl named Terry Taylor. And for some odd reason, my best friend, Ernie Eubanks and I, we were on the volleyball court, and the ball went out of bounds. And all I remember was Terry Taylor sayin’, ‘Get your hands of that ball, you God damn nigger.’ This was in the ninth grade. My mother couldn’t believe it. So I go home, and I tell my mom about the incident. And at that time, we happened to have a Black principal. His name was Wayne somebody, but we called him “Squirrel,” ‘cause he keeps – he put a squirrel on his desk. So I remember goin’ to him, and tellin’ him, “Listen, I’m being heckled by all these White kids that keep bothering me.” I mean, you gotta remember, at that time, you could literally ride to our high school with your shotgun on the rack. It was – Confederacy - was still rampant in 1984 in central Virginia. And I knew that you had to be strong because, at that time, that incident that happened with Terry, even though she was the cause of it, a lot of White kids was, for about a three month period, bothering me. And I just couldn’t take it anymore. And I seen a kid 30


Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

who started – his name was Sherrod Lassiter. He was a wrestler…And at one point, I got… kicked out of class, ‘cause I had a big mouth. I was in Mr. Green’s class in the ninth grade, Earth Science, and he was across the hall in some English class. And I just knew, for some reason that was the day that I had to fght ‘em. And we both was out there. He wouldn’t approach me one-on-one because he felt like he needed his clan with him. So I ran upstairs to my friend, said, “Look, Sherrod’s comin’ up, we ‘bout to rumble.” And I could not believe that day, it was, at my high school, in 1984 one spring, 48 black men fghting 48 White men. All because Terry said, “Get you hands of that damn ball, you nigger.” So we had that big rumble, I seen her in the hall, you know, one of the White principals, Coach Frye – yeap, I remember him to this day, put me in a choke hold. I hit ‘em with an elbow, broke loose, and said, “Look, you a grown man, I’m a kid, keep your hands of me, White boy, ‘cause – just don’t touch me. I walked myself to the office, and seen Terry Taylor, and she was lookin’ at me, whisperin’ to her friends. And I said, “You know, you was the one that started all this. I done nothin’ to you. Why did you call me that? And why did you continue to get these guys to heckle me?” And she said somethin’ like, “I just don’t like Black people.” So I pushed her. She fell down, and little did you know, I walked and turned myself in at the principal’s office. And that day was a big hoopla – all the Chesterfeld County police came out. It was in the newspaper. And I ended up – believe it or 31


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not, her white parents chargin’ me with assault because her daughter called me the n-word, basically had 48 white boys’ tryin’ to beat me up, and all I was tryin’ to do was to defend myself. I went to the principal for 90 days, no one did anything about it, so I’s at – at some point, I gotta take care of myself. And that kind of erupted, and that was the frst time that I ever was in a courtroom as a juvenile. And you know, the one thing that caused me not to be in trouble, was that I was a respectful young man, and I was a straight A and B student. And that’s why nothin’ ever happened, ‘cause the judge said that this action is not congruent with what you’ve done in life. And I caught a break because a lot of other African-American kids, that (had) parent’s that didn’t have money for a lawyer, or wasn’t doing well, they got shoved into the system. So that was an eye-opener to me to say, “No matter how successful you are, no matter how smart you are, in this world, you still Black.” “I’m sorry that happened, Rock,” I said. “I’m not. It helped me see the world for what it is, and this is not a cliché, it really did make me stronger. I have to get out of here right now, I’ll be back from time to time, otherwise ‘the Soul’ will continue to bug the heck out of me,” he said, and left as he came in, laughing out loud. It was good to hear from an old friend and protégé. We share much more in common than I had imagined. There are parallels in our experiences with overt racism, both occurring in our youth, mine as a pre-teen, his not much later. Both of our experiences occurred in the south, mine in Louisiana his in Virginia. Where we difer, is that for me the experience laid dormant for what appears a lifetime. However, I got 32


Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

the sense that Rock was telling his story from a place that’s not too distant. It felt as if the impact of those events in central Virginia had not submerged below the conscious, that they were like an army poised to rush into battle at the sound of the commanders orders. What psychological impact that event may have had on Rock is unknown, however, the emotions that were evident as he told his story would indicate the event has left a toll, perhaps like fatigued and battle scarred soldiers, a stress related disorder of sorts, a racial stress disorder. “That is not very far from reality.” It was the Soul talking and breaking my thought process. “There has been research and discussion addressing racially incurred post-traumatic stress disorder. xxxiv This suggests that the patterns of behavior for Black males, as erratic as they may be, might be attributed to a psychological state of being which could be related to overt and covert racism. As we move forward, we will delve more into the psychological aspects of Black male identity.” “I could tell many stories of racism, and bring in many others to discuss it, but for now, let’s end this by saying that racism and America are tied together and will be for some time. It will be difficult to erase over 300 years of history in a generation or two. It will take lifetimes.”

What’s the point? “OK, now check this,” said the Soul. “Remember the stages of development that you read about in the Cross article The Negro to Black Conversion Experience?xxxv “Yes.” “Well think of yourself as a person at the pre-encounter stage of the development process, the world for this person – (you) the Negro is being non-Black, (your) world-view is from a White perspective and very dependent on White acknowledgement. Your beliefs are rooted in the socalled protestant ethic and have a distrust of Black. You are eager to assimilate into an American (viewed as White) culture. xxxvi Also, just to 33


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give you some more to think about, remember how impacted you were when you read Paulo Freire?” Suddenly, he began laughing out loud, sounding a lot like Vincent Price on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”xxxvii recording. “Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha….” and he went on, sending shivers up and down my back, and I began again to wonder how crazy this is, it’s real but at the same time it is not, am I going insane? At that point the Soul broke in, knowing (yes) my thoughts. “No,” he said, “Brotha you are not crazy, nor are you going crazy. Just think of this as a period of deep self-reflection. A period when you have to come face to face with all of those thoughts going through your head, and now you have to make meaning of them and bring some order where there is now chaos.” Yes, I thought. Perhaps this is my way of dealing with my identity and with my seemingly daily fxation with racism. Again, the Soul interrupted my thoughts. “So, let’s get back to Paulo Freire. I have a quote from him that speaks to the person at this stage of identity development – I’m adding emphasis where necessary to drive home the point, ‘…because of their (your) identifcation with the oppressor, they (you) have no consciousness of (yourself) themselves as persons or as members of an oppressed class.’xxxviii He goes on to say, ‘Only as (you) they discover (yourself) themselves to be “hosts” of the oppressor can (you) they contribute to the midwifery of (your) their liberating pedagogy.’”xxxix “OK, I see what you’re saying, and the sad thing is, you are right on point. It’s kind of like the The Matrix,xl where White people have created an illusion, and the illusion is that racism is non-existent. Black people don’t realize they are still being pushed to the back of the bus. I’ve been on that bus,” I said. Thoughts just started coming to my head. I guess I need to admit my 34


Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

shortcomings, lift this veil. Otherwise, I’ll continue to be stuck in this illusionary world. If not, I won’t be a Black man – I’ll be a Black, man. I mean some things are just so blatant, they are right in front of us and we either can’t or refuse to see. I can feel myself becoming angry just thinking about some of the things I’ve seen and heard, and it’s starting to get to me. I began to speak. “For example, the other day I was watching the news on television and the headline was, ‘Girl in California Missing.’ Now, I knew immediately that it had to be a White girl. It had to be a White girl ‘cause I can only remember seeing one national news feed in the last 20 years that focused a story on a Black, Latina, or Asian girl gone missing. Now don’t get me wrong, I feel bad for the girl’s parents, but damn, look at all of the resources at the family’s disposal so they can fnd their daughter. I don’t see other folks, Black folks, with a capital B getting the same access to those resources to fnd their daughters! That puts me in an angry stage!” I said emphatically to the Soul. “Encounter stage,” the Soul said. “Not angry stage, and some call that the ‘Missing White Girl Syndrome.’”xli “Whatever,” I said, “but I do feel as though something is defnitely happening, some internal switch has been turned on, and I’m beginning to see the light of Blackness.” “I don’t want to get too far ahead of the game. I’ll explain in more detail about Black identity development theories. But yes, you are following a pattern, which is likely to take you through recognizable stages of development,” he said. I just sat there, trance-like, my eyes looking straight, trying to put all of this in some sort of perspective. Understanding this, the Soul blurted, “It’s getting pretty late, why don’t you get some sleep and we can continue tomorrow?” 35


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Startled, I answered quickly, “Yeah, great idea.” I laid down on the bed, still fully clothed, with my eyes open, staring at the ceiling and letting my mind race over the events of the day. Black identity development, mentoring, racism, White superiority, and the Soul! Voices coming and going, is this a dream? Maybe, maybe not, either way I don’t care at this point. I’m fnding out a lot about myself, and I am eager to fnd out more. Struggling to sleep, I could not help but go back to Rock’s story about his experience with racism and Daniel’s brief defnition of mentoring. The thought that each one can help me better understand mentoring and the role it plays in creating positive space for a Black man is encouraging. But why did we spend so much of the day talking about racism, slavery, and White supremacy? What does that really have to do with mentoring? I paused for a long moment still staring at the ceiling, my head resting frmly in the palm of my hands, contemplating my own questions. Then it dawned upon me, the notion that I might become an activist mentor, how empowering is that! Seeking and gaining knowledge about the realities of my own psychosocial condition and sharing the knowledge with others, my protégés, is powerful and liberating. So, perhaps this journey back through time is not just a review, it’s a requirement, sort of like having a prerequisite. Perhaps the Soul is saying to me that defning mentoring alone is nothing without a frame of reference. There is a reason that Black men have this dual image and at its core is slavery, I think he made that clear enough. There is a reason that Black men struggle with unemployment, incarceration, and other societal ills, they are beginning from a point that’s well behind the starting line, with its roots frmly entrenched in racism, along with its bastard child, White superiority. All of these combined help me now understand why we touched upon the psychological aspects of identity development, for these are deep-rooted issues and without question they

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have a continuing impact on the Black man. So, I get it, the introduction of new concepts without the proper context is a recipe for mistakes, misunderstanding and misrepresentation.

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CHAPTER 2 HOW DID I GET HERE? ..an officer of a Negro university, thinking that an additional course on the Negro should be given there, called upon the Negro Doctor of Philosophy of the faculty to ofer such work. He promptly informed the officer that he knew nothing about the Negro. He did not go to school to waste his time that way. He went to be educated in a system which dismissed the Negro as a nonentity.xlii

So now you know what I went through that frst day. It was crazy, no pun intended, I mean the Soul was of the chain. Obviously, I am changing into something or better still someone who wants to understand the nature of himself, a Black man, and how I got here. I have to go to class today, but how am I going to handle this? In our academic program we often talk about and write about self-reflection, which is integral to the program, in fact the program content forces you to ask the questions, Who Am I, and Who Am I Becoming? Perhaps, that’s how the Soul got here. I mean, it feels like I am living in a constant state of selfreflection, questioning my identity, my Blackness, my environment, my sense of who I am. Yet, while addressing these questions I feel as though I am changing into that person I was meant to be, or at the very least I had hoped to be. I began to think about the Soul and his insistence on teaching me the value of mentoring. It seems that mentoring is a way to add value to the 38


Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

process of life. From the viewpoint of the activist mentor, the value is gained through a uniquely organic relationship between mentor and protégé which heightens the psychological and social awareness of both, thus liberating them from the expected outcomes of their existence. I have to get myself together. Did I even get any sleep last night? Was that a long conversation or a dream? I really don’t know. I took a look at the clock, damn, it’s 8 am. I have to get dressed and get to school in an hour! “Damn!” – I cuss too much, I thought. I don’t want to be late, I dread how everyone looks at me when I’m late. “Relax,” said the Soul. “Getting to school on time is the least of your worries. Just think, right now you are learning how to be a mentor. The result will give you the ability to help others, particularly Black men such as yourself, who want to become mentors and who want to make a diference.” As the Soul was talking, I rushed to the bathroom, undressed and took a quick 10-minute shower. I flossed, brushed, and gargled, threw on some deodorant and some of the cheap hotel lotion. I hurried out of the bathroom mindful to put a towel around my waist and then remembered that the Soul is constantly with me, so why bother. I took my time putting on my underwear, jeans, socks, shirt and shoes. By now I was reflecting on last night and decided I wanted to hear more from the Soul. After all, if one of the goals of the program is to fnd out who you are, then this is the perfect time to do so. I remembered that I had not missed many days, well the frst Saturday at the summer institute to attend my daughter’s graduation from dental school – a very proud day for my clan I might add – but other than that I attended all of the classes. So, I thought this would be a perfect day to get sick and listen to more of what the Soul has to say to me. I grabbed my cell phone and called Mack, one of my classmates who lives in a suburb near Chicago, a tall, dark brother, who is married to an African native from the south

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central area of the continent, and who has a darling daughter whom he absolutely adores. “Yo Mack,” I said. “Hey big time,” he replied. “Listen, I’m not feeling well this morning and may not be able to make it into class today. I feel so bad I’ve been hallucinating,” I said, trying to play it of. “Can you tell Rachel and Dr. Cole for me?” “No problem. Sorry to hear that, I was hoping we could have a couple drinks tonight after class,” he said. “If I’m feeling better, I’d like to take you up on that.” “Alright!” he said, and we both hung up. “All part of the plan, right?” I said, addressing my comments to the room, but hoping to hear a response from the Soul. “Yeah, I guess so,” he said. “Great, then, let’s move, I’m really eager to know more about Black identity development, critical race theory, and mentoring,” I said, reflecting on my thoughts from last night, now better prepared not only for the Soul, but for interludes from the Brothas, as well as the content that lies ahead. “OK,” said the Soul. “That’s a lot for one day, I hope you can handle it.” He began. “As so clearly stated by David Thomas, ‘we are still living in the aftermath of a social earthquake – slavery and its sequelae’s long-term efects on racial identity, black self-esteem, and white prejudice – lie deep within our culture.’”xliii “Please defne ‘sequelae’ for me.” “No problem. It means an after efect or result.” I pondered the quote for a few seconds and said to the Soul, 40


Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

“Honestly, that is a really deep and meaningful quote. It puts this entire discussion thus far into perspective. We are still sufering aftershocks from the American decision to pursue slavery as a national agenda.” “Yes, we are. Now let’s begin this discussion with Black identity development theory. When we began this journey we started laying the foundation, or as you surmised during your reflection last night, the ‘prerequisites’ for the dialogue on mentoring. Think in terms of cause and efect. Those issues, slavery, racism and White superiority are the causes of the state of the Black man today – whether you think that is a good thing or bad thing – is up to you. The efect then is how we view ourselves as Black men, our self-image and as we will discuss in more detail, our self-identity. Who are we? Who are we becoming?” “In the late ‘60’s early ‘70’s Black men and women sought to unchain themselves from the burden of this history of racism by seeking a new identity through a Black Nationalist and social movement. xliv In other words, we wanted to break the bonds that had shackled us since slavery and to be proud of who we are instead of making excuses and living our lives under a white cloud.” “What do you mean, ‘living our lives under a white cloud?’” I asked. “You’ve heard the metaphor about white clouds representing happy and good, and dark clouds representing gloom and doom. The point they were trying to make in that time period was that dark clouds carry life, they carry rain. They are powerful, lightning and thunder; they even spawn tornadoes, some of the most powerful energy on earth. Black power! So the question is what’s to be afraid of? Yes, we need the sun, but we also need the rain. We need the daylight to see the planet, to understand where we come from, who we are as human beings. We need the night to observe the galaxies, to understand how our planet fts into the larger more complex and ever expanding place we call the universe. 41


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Dark matters.” “I see,” I said, thinking I would have to take some time to break that down. “So, almost simultaneously during that period many authors, writers, actors, doctors and just plain everyday people began to get a sense that something was occurring within the Black community, something revolutionary. Ideas began to spring forth, particularly from the psychological community, which sought to address this new found national awareness of the Black condition, specifcally with respect to the psychological impact of slavery and how the Black man (and woman) could free himself, so that he could see himself and be seen by others.” “Most notable of these scholars were Charles Thomas, William Cross, and Bailey Jackson, who began to theorize about stages of identity development within a Black person, which came to be known as Black Identity Development Theory.”

Black Identity Development Theory “Are we about to discuss Black Identity Development Theory?” I asked. “BID,” said the Soul. “OK, BID,” I said, and added, “before you start getting into the details of BID, please make sure you make it clear to me how it’s connected to mentoring. I don’t want to go all the way out to the car only to remember I’ve forgotten my keys.” He replied, “No, why don’t you think about it and tell me what you think the connection is.” I really should have been prepared for that answer. Part of this journey it seems is to get me to understand the information I’ve been presented and then to process that information in my own terms. My experiences are important, and the Soul is making sure that I draw upon those experiences to interpret what he is saying. 42


Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

“I thought about this not too long ago when I was thinking about activist mentoring,” I said. “Go on,” said the Soul. “In your discussion of activist mentoring, you talked about empowering both mentor and protégé by making them aware of their psychosocial condition. I interpreted that as a means of helping them to become liberated from social and psychological predetermination. So, BID is really a bridge to psychological liberation. Once you have the courage to walk across the bridge, you will then have the opportunity to gather the information you need to achieve liberation. And you are being guided the entire time by your mentor.” “Yes, you are,” said the Soul. “Yes you are.” “I think you made your connection,” he said. “Now let’s move on.” “Here's another quote. Believe me before this journey ends, you’re going to have quite a few of them. I do that because I’m not an expert on anything, but I’ve read others who did their homework, their research, so I borrow from them and give them their props. So let’s see, let me share this from James Comer:” …combined with the fact that slavery left many without a purpose or opportunity beyond the gratifcation of basic human drives – sexual, aggressive, survival - rendered blacks, as a group, vulnerable to the projections of “bad impulses.” The fact that the black man could not defend himself against physical, social or psychological abuse without fear of extreme repression did not help the situation.xlv “This is how I look at that quote,” said the Soul. “Think about a little boy growing up in an environment where he is constantly being told he is worthless. He has no value other than the fact 43


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that he can do his chores. He gets no encouragement, actually just the opposite he gets beaten whenever he shows any kind of defance, independence, or positive self-esteem. He is constantly being kept in his place. He becomes emotionally dependent on negative reinforcement. You hear about the stories of those kids all of the time. They grow up with an attitude, a chip on their shoulders overly sensitive to any negative comments, ready to explode – and often do.” “So, what BID attempts to do is provide Black folk with a model that addresses the negative dependency of White psychological and social abuse.” I thought about that for a moment, remembering my own children, fve in all, who grew up in a stable loving environment. How would they be diferent if I were physically and psychologically abusive? Their chances for success would probably be minimal, and their self-esteem would most likely be very low. I cringe just thinking about it. Negromachy “During the time when Black people were beginning to understand that it was OK to be Black, and within this social context, the era of ‘Black Nationalism,’ Thomas, a Black psychologist, developed a model to explore this emerging Blackness.xlvi Given the context – social awakening - his concept of a ‘new black ethic’ discussed the psychological factors inherent in the movement. He describes its signifcance as ‘a corrosive operation against those harsh, oppressive elements of the social structure that have either misinterpreted the humanness of black people or compelled them to believe that psycho-socially they had infantile or animal-like motivational systems.’”xlvii “Whoa!” I said. “Man, that sounds like a lot of psycho babble, you know? I know there is something worth considering in that statement, otherwise you would not have quoted it, so just let me take a minute to digest it.” 44


Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

“OK, but as you are thinking on it, go back to our discussion about breeding, about how inhumane the actions of the slave owners were, and then you might have a better understanding of what Thomas means. If you treat people like animals, psychologically you will think of them in that context, and make no mistake; we were treated like animals, in some cases worse.” Again the notion of concept and context, I thought. I pondered what the Soul had just said and thought about how clean and sterile my knowledge of slavery was. In my mind, slavery was always a laborious concept. Black folk, the White man’s ‘Nigger’s out in the cotton and tobacco felds, the men dark and muscular glistening in sweat with hoe or sickle, the women single-minded in their task, stooping and picking the cotton or tobacco leaves, keeping the children in tow. All joining in the singing of Negro spirituals about the hard times they were having and the glory of emancipation they would welcome in years to come. They were like animals, in a herd, performing their daily mundane tasks, always in the watchful eyes of the overseer. The Soul interjected. “Whether he likes it or not, the black man has to wear the livery the white man has fabricated for him.” xlviii This hard labor picture, while difficult, is still far less painful to imagine, because it doesn’t include rape, torture, verbal and physical abuse, those things that happen behind closed doors that somehow gets left out of the story, not because they are too difficult to come to terms with, but, I suspect because it would paint the White man in a negative light. Given those realities, they pale in comparison to the deeper psychological consequence of slavery, the shackles of which will take centuries to break. “Listen to this account from a former slave Olaudah Equiano,” said the Soul. 45


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While I was thus employed by my master, I was often a witness to cruelties of every kind, which were exercised on my unhappy fellow slaves. I used frequently to have diferent cargoes of new Negroes in my care for sale; and it was almost a constant practice with our clerks, and other whites, to commit violent depredations on the chastity of the female slaves; and these I was, though with reluctance, obliged to submit to at all times, being unable to help them. When we have had some of these slaves on board my master's vessels, to carry them to other islands, or to America, I have known our mates to commit these acts most shamefully, to the disgrace, not of Christians only, but of men. I have even known them to gratify their brutal passion with females not ten years old; and these abominations, some of them practised to such scandalous excess, that one of our captains discharged the mate and others on that account. And yet in Montserrat I have seen a Negro man staked to the ground, and cut most shockingly, and then his ears cut of bit by bit, because he had been connected with a white woman, who was a common prostitute. As if it were no crime in the whites to rob an innocent African girl of her virtue, but most heinous in a black man only to gratify a passion of nature, where the temptation was ofered by one of a diferent color, though the most abandoned woman of her species. xlix “Listen,” the Soul said. “There are times during this journey when the knowledge that I’m sharing will begin to challenge ‘your’ world view, and 46


Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

during those times you will be confused and perhaps show some guilt.” “In some ways, it’s like going into a therapy session,” I said. “In that sometimes you’re asked to come face to face with unpleasant or difficult actions, events, ideas, that have been buried in your subconscious, ‘cause dealing with them might be painful.” “True,” said the Soul. “That is why education, the great door to the quest for knowledge, is so important to fnding out not only about things that you deem as important, but also in fnding out about yourself. However, a word of caution, as we’ve seen from Woodson and Freire, and as we will see throughout, education can be a vessel for oppression as well as the ship of liberation. Now, let’s go back to Thomas.” “I’m ready,” I said. Again, the Soul has managed to shake my view. Education it seems can be both liberating in nature, as well as a host for our continued oppression, I repeated in my mind. “Thomas goes on further to defne the general psychological state of Black people from its group perspective as one of mental illness, which is what we were talking about earlier, with all of the psychological luggage we are carrying. I mean when you really think about it, it’s not just slavery, that was the beginning, the genesis if you will, of the problem. Cheryl Harris elaborates:” Blacks were not permitted to travel without permits, to own property, to assemble publicly, or to own weapons; nor were they to be educated. Racial identity was further merged with stratifed social and legal status: “Black” racial identity marked who was subject to enslavement; “white” racial identity marked who was “free” or, at minimum, not a slave. The ideological and rhetorical move from “slave” and “free” to “Black” and “white” as polar constructs marked an important step in the social construction 47


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of race”l. “But think about the post-slavery days, through today really. There was a period of time when White rights usurped the rights of others, particularly Black people, and they could basically do what they wanted. Lynchings were routine, with little or no repercussions. They could rape, burn, torture, do anything to the Black man and woman, and yet the prisons swelled with Black people accused of petty crimes, while Whites could walk away from murder. When it came to crimes against Black people, they were above the law.” “Certainly, Black people carved out lives, some became quite wealthy, and we had our fair share of lawyers, doctors, singers, dancers, engineers, and a host of other professions. Yet, even those people with all of their education, training, and social skills, could not sit in the front of the bus, or the train, or eat and drink in certain bars. Imagine, the great Bill Russell or Hank Aaron not being allowed to eat with their teammates because of their color. Or, Dr. Charles Drew being denied entry into an upscale hotel and if he were allowed, he would most likely take quarters in the basement; and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., riding in the back of the bus, or being forced to give up his seat to a White person. Yes, we could be great, and make countless contributions to America, but we could only do so by staying in our place. As long as we did not step outside of the boundaries resurrected for us by White society and ultimately by the Supreme Court, which legalized the separate but equal clause li that stood for more than a half century, we were tolerated.” “Now if you have to go through that kind of degradation for three centuries, being a good, subservient ‘Nigger’, wouldn’t anybody be messed up?” the Soul said. I could tell that the Soul was fast approaching his boiling point. Each time we journey back through the history of Black oppression in 48


Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

America, his voice becomes more agitated. It seems to me a miracle that we all – Black folk – just don’t snap. “Before we move on, I want to share a story with you, courtesy of Du Bois.” “Please do,” I said. The Soul reminisced about a chapter in the Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois.lii In this particular chapter, he (Du Bois) relates the tale of two John’s one Black and one White, both having grown up in southeastern Georgia, near Savannah sometime after the Civil War. Both John’s went of to college to become the men their families and communities hoped they would be. White John was sent of to Princeton, to be groomed for law and politics. Black John was sent of to the Negro Institute to study for a career teaching in the community. The White family that Black John and his parents worked for stressed that college would only spoil Black John and ruin him. As it might happen, Black John took a trip to New York and while at a play met up with the old boyhood White John from his hometown. The White John was unnerved to be sitting with a lady friend next to a Nigger, so he asked that Black John be removed. When both arrived back in their small town, Black John was now much more aware of the oppression that surrounded him, one that he was oblivious to before his education. After opening a school for young children, he was asked by the town’s Judge, and White John’s father, to shut the school down due to the insubordinate and dangerous content – “the French Revolution, equality and such like” - being taught. It seems, White John had told his father about the incident in New York, which made the father very angry. White John, stuck in the back woods of the south and yearning to escape, see’s Jennie, Black John’s younger sister strolling down a path heading home and accosts her. Black John, on his way to intercept his sister to tell her the news that he is leaving to go North, hears her screams and races toward her, enraged, seeing her 49


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clutched in the arms of a tall White man, He said not a word, but, seizing a fallen limb, struck him with all the pent-up hatred of his great black arm; and the body lay white and still beneath the pines, all bathed in sunshine and in blood. John looked at it dreamily, then walked back to the house briskly, and said in a soft voice, “Mammy, I’m going away, - I’m going to be free.” liii That story says to me what the Soul has been trying to get across today. Black John with all of his education, his hopes and dreams, to the White man, none of it really mattered once he stepped out of his place. In the world that was constructed for him, he was not allowed to be a man, he could only be a Nigger – and he snapped. Yet, despite this he was still transformed into a free man, at least psychologically, which when taken in this context, was much more powerful than the physical freedoms that were supposed to be the result of his legal emancipation. As I was momentarily lost in my thoughts, I heard the Soul continuing. “Charles Thomas believes that we can only make ourselves healthy by becoming aware of our own Black identity and self concept. This concept is described as ‘Negromachy’ - that which is ruled by confusion of self worth and dependency upon white society.liv Thomas explains:” Inherent in this concept of approval is the need to be accepted as something other than what one is. Gratifcation is based upon denial of self and a rejection of group goals and activities. The driving force behind this need requires Afro-Americans to seek approval from whites 50


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in all activities, to use white expectations as the yardstick for determining what is good, desirable or necessary. Any indication of rejection by or hostility from whites results in these Afro-Americans changing their pattern of actions, even when the individual hurts himself and others of his people. Such brothers and sisters become parasites who are undemanding and content with little or nothing. They prefer to have goal directed actions that ft into adoptive patterns, which will not be criticized by whites.lv “Do you remember the movie, A Soldiers Story?”lvi “Of course, it’s one of my favorites,” I replied. “Well, it was based on a play entitled A Soldiers Play, by Charles Fuller.” “Check out this dialogue – which I think speaks to the concept of Negromachy. But frst, understand that this setting was during the 1940’s and these men were in a mostly segregated Army, further compounded by the fact that the post they were stationed at was situated in the deep south. This was well before the psycho-social Black awareness movement.” “So you are using it here to show the psychological state of the Black man before the Black awareness movement?” I said, half questioning and half stating what I thought to be a fact. “Yes,” he said, and began to recite from A Soldiers Play: “When this war’s over, things are going to change, Wilkie -- and I want him to be ready for it -- my daughter too! I’m sendin’ both of ’em to some big white college -- let ’em rub elbows with whites, learn the white man’s language -- how he does things. 51


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Otherwise we'll be left behind -- you can see it in the army. White man runnin’ rings around us.” (Sgt Waters) “Lot of us ain’t had the chance or the schoolin’ the white folks got.” (Pvt Wilkie) “That ain’t no excuse, Wilkie. Most niggahs just don’t care -- tomorrow don't mean nothin' to 'em. My Daddy shoveled coal from the back of a wagon all his life. He couldn't read or write, but he saw to it we did! Not havin’ ain’t no excuse for not getting.’” (Sgt Waters) “Can't get pee from a rock, Sarge.” (Pvt Wilkie) “You're just like the rest of ’em, Wilkie. I thought bustin’ you would teach you something – we got to challenge this man in his arena – use his weapons, don't you know that? We need lawyers, doctors – generals – senators! Stop thinkin’ like a niggah!” (Sgt Waters)lvii “Yeah, Sgt Waters had issues for sure and it’s obvious that he was confused about his identity,” I said. “In fact, I think C.J. Memphis, the tragic Stepin Fetchit character said of Sgt Waters, ‘Any man ain't sure where he belongs, must be in a whole lotta pain.’” “Hmm, that’s interesting, kind of like a dual image,” said the Soul. “But going back to Sgt Waters, Thomas say’s that ‘In small but important ways, “the white is right” behavior is used in maintaining, protecting, and enhancing the quality of life.’ lviii In other words, Black people needed to stay in their comfort zones, perhaps angry on the inside but most certainly agreeable and envious of the White man on the outside. Such is the case of Sgt Waters, and such is the case for Negromachy in general.” 52


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“Thomas outlines three stageslix in his Black identity model. Rappin on Whitey, Testifying, and Group and Communal experience. The frst stage of this development is what he calls, ‘Rappin’ on Whitey’, I think this is the realization that something is not quite right, the beginning of your state of awareness that the Black condition vis a vis the White condition is severely disconnected. Afterwards comes the ‘Testifying’ stage – it is here where you experience the anxiety and tension relative to your change in psychological ideals and frames of reference, your world view is changing from White to Black. At this point, I would say you need a lot of emotional support, from people who know and love you and who are witnessing frst hand your transformation. Without it, you could go of on someone or something. Remember Black John?” “In the third stage, you start to seek out the Black experience, wanting to know more about history, community groups, ways to become part of or reconnect to Black culture. It’s not just about you anymore; it’s about ‘us’, this is the Group or communal experience.” “Now your worldview has changed from Eurocentric to Afrocentric, and you look to give and take from the Black community. Finally, the transformation is complete and it’s almost full circle. No more do you get angry over obvious signs of injustice, you understand the greater struggle, you know you are Black and you seek a humanistic approach, you now look at race as a social ill in lieu of a social disability.” “I particularly thought the last sentence about understanding that race is an illness, in lieu of a disability, was powerful. It says that we can continue to fght racism, like cancer, and perhaps someday there will be a remedy.” “Yes,” said the Soul, “a remedy for the oppressor and the oppressed.” Then after pausing for a few seconds, he said, “But keep these words from Fanon in mind, ‘as painful as it is for us to have to say this: there is but one destiny for the black man. And it is white.’” lx 53


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I recollected about the Black Nationalist movement when I was a kid growing up in Cleveland in the late ‘60’s. I didn’t understand what it meant at the time, people talking about Black power, Black is beautiful. I also remember James Brown’s, I’m Black and I’m Proud (Say it Loud), “We done made us a chance to do for ourself/we're tired of beating our head against the wall/workin' for someone else. Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud!”lxi I never really stopped to think about what that meant, to suddenly be Black and proud, how liberating that must have been. For a critical mass, it seems that after years of so-called emancipation, they had fnally gained a psychological emancipation; they had developed a Black identity. “That was easy to understand and quite frankly, I was expecting more” I said. “Yes, I agree. My style is to build upon ideas. So, with the next model we will get a little more detailed.” Nigrescence “Ready to talk about the Cross model?” “Sure.” I stated. “So, this is basically the same theoretical concept from a diferent perspective?” “Yes. You ready?” “Defnitely!” I replied, eager to understand more about BID. “OK, well the William Cross model of psychological Nigrescence lxii is perhaps the most well known and probably the most critiqued of the BID models in the feld.” “Hold on, for a minute. What did you say, Niggeressence?” I asked. “No, it’s Ni-gre-scence,” the Soul said. “And it loosely means, the process of becoming Black.” I interrupted again, “So, it’s just like Negromachy in the Thomas model, right?” 54


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The Soul replied, “Yes and no. Yes, because it does represent a psychology of the Black perspective in their relationships with Whites. But that’s the extent. Nigrescence deals with the stages a Black man goes through, or rather what a ‘Negro’ goes through on the road to becoming Black. Whereas, Negromachy is the identifcation of the lack of self worth of a Black person, due to his reliance on White people for affirmation. Get it?” “So, Negromachy is the problem that Nigrescence resolves,” I said. “Hmm, never thought of it quite that way, but yes, I think that’s accurate.” “As with Thomas, Cross developed a model with fve stages that nonliberated Black people ‘Negroes’ transgress on the road to becoming Black. Contextually, this model is also grounded in the era of Black Nationalism (power/consciousness) and liberation:” lxiii A sub-heading or component of a Black psychology might be the psychology of Black liberation. In fact, one of the frst concerns of Black behavioral scientists should be the creation of developmental theories, personality constructs and Black life-styles that promote psychological liberation under conditions of oppression.lxiv “There are names for each stage. Pre-encounter, Encounter, Immersion-Emersion, Internalization, and InternalizationCommitment.” “OK,” I said. To this, the Soul moved on. “The Pre-encounter stage is descriptive of the old identity, world viewlxv or frame of reference to be changed. Remember, we talked about this yesterday, the world for this person is being non-Black, his or her world-view is from a White perspective and 55


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very dependent on White acknowledgement, kind of like Negromachy. They are eager to assimilate into American (viewed as white) culture. They are destined to stay in their place.” “However, there is hope. Something may come along, a verbal or visual event that challenges pre-encounter thought. Something that just shakes things up in other words. When that happens and when you recognize and respond to it, which is key, then you’re in the Encounter stage.” I added, “Sorta like what I was talking about yesterday when I mentioned my disillusionment with news reports and the amount of civil action taken when a White girl goes missing.” “Yes,” he said, and added, “I’m going back to W.E.B. Du Bois. Here is a passage from the Souls of Black Folk where he experiences an awakening:” It is in the early days of rollicking boyhood that the revelation frst bursts upon one, all in a day, as it were. I remember well when the shadow swept across me. I was a little thing, away up in the hills of New England, where the dark Housatonic winds between Hoosac and Taghkanic to the sea. In a wee wooden schoolhouse, something put it into the boy’ and girls’ heads to buy gorgeous visitingcards – ten cents a package – and exchange. The exchange was merry, till one girl, a tall newcomer, refused my card, - refused it peremptorily, with a glance. Then it dawned upon me with a certain suddenness that I was diferent from the others; or like, mayhap, in heart and life and longing, but shut out from their world by a vast veil. I had thereafter no desire to tear down that veil, to creep through; I held all beyond it in common contempt, and lived above it in a region of blue 56


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sky and wandering shadows.lxvi “Du Bois’ encounter with the girl, his introduction of the ‘veil’ metaphor, his knowledge early on that to be Black meant that he had to somehow be judged diferently made him angry, though more in the vein of Martin than Malcolm, he chose to take the higher ground, to take intellectual flight. My point is that transgressing through this stage – awareness and redefnition of the Black condition - leads you to become angry at the now visible construct so plainly created by Whites. Inevitably, ‘a “Negro” is dying and a “Black” is being resurrected.’” lxvii “Du Bois is so captivating, thank you for interspersing his work into this educational journey. I’d really like to know more about him and his works.” “Thanks, we will get to discuss more from Du Bois, though I strongly encourage you to read The Souls of Black Folk,” he paused, “perhaps you should have read it a long time ago,” he said to me, with a hint of sadness in his delivery. “Stage three is the Immersion-Emersion stage. The now ‘Black’ American believes he or she is liberated from Whiteness. This is the militant stage, and it is here, that anger is fueled by rage and guilt. The person becomes anti-White, and at the extreme, all White is evil and must be destroyed, and on the other end all Black becomes deifed. It is here that revolutionary thoughts - a commitment to the destruction of racism, oppression and Eurocentric dominance - and in some cases actions - begin to manifest.” He paused for just a second or two, and then continued. “One of the frst psychologists, Black psychologists, to discuss the psychological impact of racism, oppression and White supremacy was Frantz Fanon, who was more in line with Malcolm, at least the early Malcolm, in his views.” “Yes,” I said. “We’ve been using quite a few of his quotes.”

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“Brotha, listen to these words from Fanon as he reflects on his encounter, his experience with White patronization and racism:” Locked in this sufocating reifcation, I appealed to the Other so that his liberating gaze, gliding over my body suddenly smoothed of rough edges, would give me back the lightness of being I thought I had lost, and taking me out of the world put me back in the world. But just as I get to the other slope I stumble, and the Other fxes me with his gaze, his gestures and attitude, the same way you fx a preparation with dye. I lose my temper, demand an explanation…..Nothing doing. I explode. Here are the fragments put together by another me. lxviii “That’s compelling,” I said. “It’s like once you’ve felt that connection to racism - White superiority, a rage wells up inside you, something I can’t describe, but its not hate, its something diferent, like a cry for acceptance, no, not acceptance, a cry for change, a cry for education, you just want people to see, to understand the vastness of racism and to the White superiority complex, and how blind we are to it, both the Black man and the White man.” “Surely, then,” said the Soul. “we agree that the wounds of racism are deep.” “No doubt,” I said. The Soul began to speak again, completing his thoughts on the Immersion-Emersion stage of the Cross model of BID. “Given that rage will surely develop at some level, there is also a calm. It’s during this stage that the individual seeks to create a Black environment through artistry, poetry, essays, etc,” he said. “So, in order to cope, you begin to tear down your White world and create a new Black world, a world that’s comforting. Remember,” he continued, “there are 58


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two phases in this stage. The immersion as described above with it’s high degree of volatility, and the emersion phase which is characterized by a ‘leveling of’ period, allows you to gain more control of your behavior.” lxix I completely understood what the Soul was saying about the Immersion-Emersion stage, it’s the Dr. Jekyll – Mr. Hyde phase, a struggle for control of one’s own thoughts and actions. Yet, it is at this point that one begins to engage in a critical analysis of the Black condition. “Not all people who are Black skinned, and have experienced racism frst hand, have gone through this process of identity development,” the Soul said. “Some have chosen to take a color-blind approach, telling themselves that a random act does not make all White people racist, and that we are all the same, no matter what color. Others have chosen to segregate themselves. Choosing to stay as far away from White people as they can, after all, how can the White man do them any harm if he’s not around them?” “Black people who have transgressed through to the Internalization stage, the fourth stage of the model, do not have to grapple with these rationalizations. They have now gone through a metamorphosis and have emerged with a newness of inner security and satisfaction, more receptive to ideas, but still have far to go.” “Sounds kind of vague, what does it mean?” I asked. “It means that people in this stage of psychological development, ‘believe’ they are Black. They may get upset about the depiction of Black people on television shows, in the local news, and things of that nature. They may even change their dress and appearance and start to use words and phrases attributed to Black culture. But, they have not really made the transformation. See, folks at this stage of development have not stopped to understand why things are the way they are. They haven’t looked deep into their history and tried to read and understand the 59


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magnitude of slavery, racism, oppression, and White superiority. Yes, as I said earlier, they have undergone a metamorphosis, but they have not yet learned how to fly.” “I understand that to mean at this stage, a person is still confused and they can depict that confusion in several ways,” I stated. “Yes, that is one way of looking at people at this stage of development. It is here where you might fnd people becoming more revolutionary or they may become Blacker than anyone else – highly judgmental.” “So how do they learn to fly?” I asked. “Of course that happens in the ffth and fnal stage of the Cross model. It’s referred to as the Internalization-Commitment stage. At this stage of psychological Nigrescence, Cross suggests that the individual – now Black - becomes committed to his or her Blackness and is un-phased and unmoved by criticisms of this new Blackness. He is now not only receptive to ideas, but is more willing to take action and commit to a plan. He is compassionate and helpful to those who have not yet completed the journey into Blackness. This is the phase where they recapture their humanism.” “In the story, The Chronicle of the Slave Scrolls, Derrick Belllxx, the legal scholar and one of the founding ‘members’ of the critical race theory movement, described how the mysterious slave scrolls with purported healing powers taught groups of Blacks about the history of slavery in all its brutality. He described the pride Black people experienced at reading about the struggle and ultimate survival of their ancestors, an experience akin to being ‘born again.’ He also noted the myriad marks of racial oppression began to fall away. This metaphorically describes transiting from Cross’s Encounter stage – the realities of slavery, through Immersion/Emersion – group activities and pride in ancestral heritage, to Internalization – experience akin to being ‘born again’ that is, becoming ‘Black.’” 60


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“Two down and one to go,” said the Soul. “We have one more theorist to explore, Bailey Jackson, regarding Black identity development theory. In fact, he actually was the frst to address the exploration of the stages of transition as Black Identity Development (BID) Theory.” “Is it really necessary to explore all of these diferent theorists with respect to identity development in Black people?” I asked. “I think so,” he replied. “It’s important to understand the depth of this work. I guess we could stop with Cross, considering his work has had the most endurance and notoriety. But it would not give us other ideas and perspectives. It’s like this, if you wanted to explain to someone what cooked greens looks, feel and tastes like, you could use collard greens and that would give the person a pretty good representation of greens, a leafy, deep green, vegetable, that we usually cook in hot water, a little oil, some meat, and seasoning. However, the color and texture of mustard, turnip and kale greens are all a bit diferent and they each have a distinctive taste. So, getting a little more variety adds to your knowledge of greens. So it is with this subject.” “Making me hungry for some of my Mother’s greens,” I said. “She makes the best mustard and turnip green mix on the planet. With some corn bread, potato salad, candied yams, fried chicken, corn bread dressing, sweet potato and lemon pies, spinach and egg salad, and that potato chip and cheese dish with chopped potatoes, damn!” “It felt good to say that didn’t it,” said the Soul. “Yeah it did,” I replied, with a huge grin on my face, thinking about my Mother and her wonderful cooking and unquestionable love. “Not only does what you said evoke memories of your Mother and special occasions, but it also is part of your cultural heritage. It’s not Greek, Italian, or Spanish, its Black, American Black.” Locus of Control “Let’s explore Bailey Jackson’s view of BID.”

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“I’m following,” I said. Still smiling and thinking that this must be part of the therapy, if so, I think it’s working for me. “Jackson believes that the identity development of a black person in America is strongly influenced by racism and oppression in American society and that the process of developing a positive black identity follows a defnable sequence. The BID theory places special emphasis on the racial and cultural identity development of black people while recognizing that the development of a person’s identity involves much more.”lxxi “That seems reasonable. It’s keeping in line with Thomas and Cross, in that at the heart of the problem of lack of self esteem, and a negative selfidentity is the specter of White racism and superiority as well as oppression. It defnitely sets the stage for the rest of the discussion,” I said. “And one more thing,” I added, “I’m getting more comfortable talking about White racism, oppression, and White superiority. It seems to be such a common thread in life that in some strange way it is really easy to talk about. Perhaps if more people opened their eyes to the magnitude of the problem, it would be much easier to discuss, and perhaps much easier to eliminate.” “I could only hope it was that easy,” he said, and continued. “Jackson describes four stages in the development of a positive black identity. lxxii These stages are Passive Acceptance, Active Resistance, Redirection, and Internalization. He believes that the process of developing a positive black identity follows a defnable sequence.” lxxiii “Again,” I said, “he does not stray very far in his beliefs from the views of Thomas and Cross.” “Agreed,” said the Soul. “According to Jackson,” he went on, “BID theory describes the values, beliefs, and locus of control of a black person at each stage of the process of developing a positive black identity.” lxxiv 62


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“Whoa, stop, explain to me what locus of control means. I’ve heard it used before, but honestly, I can’t put my fnger on the defnition.” “No problem. Since you are somewhat new to the study of personalities, that’s not a surprise. And I mean that respectfully,” he said. “Locus is rooted in Latin and it means one’s place or location. In other words your sense of self. The control aspect concerns who or what you believe controls your life. For example, we talked about the Black man and athletics earlier.” “Say you had a dream to play cornerback for the Cleveland Browns football team – which we both know is true – and say that you worked really, really, hard in practice and in the weight room and in flm study, and you realized your dream. If you believed that your work ethic got you to play professional football then that would be an example of an individual with an internal, I repeat, internal locus of control – meaning that you believe in yourself and you control your destiny. Now if you were a person who believed that no matter how hard you worked, access to the professional football league was strictly in someone else’s hand, or God’s hand or even the hand of Fate, then that’s an example of an external, once again I’ll repeat, an external locus of control, meaning you believe that your destiny is controlled by luck, religion, circumstance, or Fate – it’s out of your control.” I added, “Locus of control then is a measure of how you see yourself in the world. If you have an internal locus of control, that probably means that you have a positive self identity and high self esteem. Conversely, if you have an external locus of control you probably have a negative self identity and low self esteem.” “Good,” he said. I went on, “Now that I think about it, I can remember times when my elders and my peers would say things like, ‘Why you going to school, it don’t matter none, ‘cause the White man controls everything anyway.’

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Or, ‘Why you looking for a job there, you know they gone give it to them White boys.’ So, if you think about our history and experiences with White people, from slavery to Jim Crow to segregation and conservatism, it would be difficult not to assume that, as a whole, Black people have an external locus of control. The way I see it, it all boils down to who has the power. Just one more thing,” I said. “All this got me to thinking again about our sports analogy, and who has the power.” “I’m listening,” said the Soul. “Specifc to professional football, the players in the league are predominantly Black. They all are well paid by any standard. But the thing that bothers me is that the one position where intellect is supposedly the most valued commodity, the quarterback position, is dominated by White males, and it just so happens, that it is the highest paid position. Go fgure.” “I’m not sure if it fts, but you really wanted to get that of of your chest. So I’m glad you did,” he said somewhat disinterested. “Now back to the assumption about Black external locus of control. Assume what you will, just know that we’ve not done the research to make that leap with any level of conviction.” “OK,” I said. “The frst stage of the Jackson model of BID is the Passive Acceptance stage, which represents internalization of racial dominance and subordination. The individual here follows the prevailing notion that ‘White is right.’ He or she attempts to get ahead in life by gaining resources – approval, sense of worth, goods, power, and money – by assimilation (accepting and conforming to White socio-cultural and institutional standards).” “This is the stage where many middle-class Blacks often situate themselves. Work hard, climb the corporate ladder as much as possible –

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even though I think in the back of their minds they know racism still exists – play the ‘get my kid into a good school’ (meaning White school) game. They become entrenched in ‘making it.’ They begin to believe that we are all one big happy family, so why shouldn’t we all just get along? But what they fail to see, is that they are merely being assimilated and the ‘veil’ really does continue to cast a shadow over their lives, only they are too blinded by their own sense of self worth, their making it, to truly understand what is happening to them.” I reflected on this for some time. It seemed as though he was telling my story. Yes, I am aware of my Blackness, but his explanation of this stage rings true more so than I am willing to admit. I had always dreamed of getting out of the inner city and moving out to the suburbs, to a place with a bigger house, air conditioning, integrated schools, a balance of Blackness and Whiteness. But the reality is that the schools are predominantly White, there is very little education of the Black experience, more of my neighbors are White than Black, and quite frankly I’m living in a White world with very little balance. Balance, it seems, is a matter of perspective. All too often the scales are tilted in favor of the White perspective. I heard the Soul continuing. “Let me share this story from Harris with you. In telling a story of her grandmother’s migration from Mississippi to Chicago, she recalls,” Having separated from my grandfather, who himself was trapped on the fringes of economic marginality, she took one long hard look at her choices and presented herself for employment at a major retail store in Chicago’s central business district. This decision would have been unremarkable for a white woman in similar circumstances, but for my grandmother, it was an act of both great

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daring and self-denial, for in so doing she was presenting herself as a white woman. In the parlance of racist America, she was “passing.” lxxv “In this particular case, it’s apparent that the grandmother chose to assimilate, not because she wanted to, or because she was naïve, but because the construct at the time forced her to. However, what does that say about racism? It says that if you beneft from any racial construct, you are complicit, and are in essence, a tiny element in the behemoth that is racism.” “So, are you saying that anyone who benefts from their real or perceived Whiteness is racist?” I asked. “Yes. Remember our modifed Wellman defnition – enhance the advantages of Whites” - said the Soul. He quickly transitioned. “But just as with Cross, Jackson recognizes that at some point there may be an awakening of sorts, and when it occurs, the transition between stages can be confusing and often painful.” “Following the Passive Acceptance stage, the Active Resistance stage then is the stage where the Black man gains his awareness and begins to reject all that is White. If Negromachy is reliant on all that is White, then Active Resistance is decidedly the opposite.” “It is at this stage, my friend, that the person ultimately understands that he has been a victim of his own misguided sense of humanity. He wanted to believe that all has changed and that Blacks and Whites were truly headed toward some type of biblical equality. Truth is, he now feels as though he’s been complicit in a racial Armageddon. He’s a soldier given orders that he obeyed without question or conscious, kind of a ‘yes suh, Boss’ mentality. The person has to really face the fact that racism exists. Whatever the epiphany, it has shown light on the true nature of race in America,” the Soul said. “Why can’t people see it – racism – as a problem much sooner?” I 66


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asked. “Well,” said the Soul, “It’s not quite that simple. People are programmed to accept their place in the system. The programming begins early on. It starts with television. Look at the majority of network and cable programming which depicts successful White people in various settings, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, etc. Occasionally, there will be a Black show, primarily comedy, which shows a successful Black person or couple.” “This says to the young Black person, ‘OK, if I work hard, I can be like White people. There will only be a few of us to make that jump, so I’m going to be one of them.’ Next, it’s reinforced in schools. The Constitution with its dream of equality for all citizens tells us that our founding fathers fought hard to make us a free nation, but they add, due to the social norms of the day, they had no choice but to maintain the system of slavery that had been practiced in some form beginning with the frst European settlers. The message here is ‘Dream on, but remember your place, it was White folks that liberated America, the great White fathers, they are your role models, the only real American heroes.’” “Here’s another example from a well-known novel, Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison.lxxvi The main character of the book was vying for a scholarship to attend a Negro college. He prepared a speech in order to increase his chances of getting that scholarship. He and several Black youths were summoned to a gathering of the town’s most powerful White men, believing they would be given audience to speak about scholarship opportunities. Now what do you think happened?” he asked. I shrugged. The Soul went on to explain. “Well, these men blindfolded the young Black men and made them brutalize each other in a homemade boxing ring. The drunker they got, the more blood they wanted to see. Finally, 67


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after all of the young Black men were beaten and bloodied, either by one another or someone from the crowd, they allowed the young man to give his speech.” “During the speech, the young man, battered, bruised, and on occasion swallowing his own blood, mentioned Social responsibility of the Black man. Drunk, inattentive, and ever arrogant, one of the White men challenged him, asking whether or not he had used the term social ‘equality’, instead. The White man went on to say, ‘You weren’t being smart, were you boy?’ ‘No Sir!’ The young man replied. ‘You sure that about “equality” was a mistake?’ ‘Oh, yes sir, I was swallowing blood.’ ‘Well, you had better speak more slowly so we can understand. We mean to do right by you, but you’ve got to know your place at all times.’” lxxvii I found myself being less than emotional about the Soul's story. I was not going to allow myself to be blinded by rage. The Soul marched on. “Once the person has accepted racism as a construct, It is a deeply emotional understanding of who they are as an individual and as part of the collective of being Black. This is the stage where ‘cleansing’ occurs.” There is a strong need for a thorough cleansing of the person’s system. The cleansing process takes the form of overt rejection of white relationships, white values, and activities that support white people or white institutions. In some cases the rejection manifests itself in the form of physical destruction.lxxviii “So do you think we – the Black collective in America - are getting closer to a psychological state where we feel good about ourselves and do not look up to the White man, but rather look at the White man?” I asked. “Yes. But it is an incremental journey, one that is likely to last several generations. We will need a great deal of therapy along the way. The Civil 68


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Rights movement was therapeutic. It gave us the idea that we could actually play the game the way it was supposed to be played and win a legal ruling on our behalf using the White man’s greatest weapon, the legal system.” The Soul sighed before continuing, “Now don’t get it twisted, it was not the perfect solution, meaning that some of the results, particularly school busing was not so much a win for Blacks but a concession to Whites. After all, not very many Whites got bused to Black schools and neighborhoods. And why should they? They were happy with the status quo, the most money, the best schools, why would they want to step down to us? So, if Blacks want to be like us (White), to get what we have, they have to step to us. Understand?” “Clearly,” I said. “There are other examples, many, of events that have occurred that have raised our social consciousness, awareness and sense of humanity. The million-man march was another such incident. However, in that case, a Black man, Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Black Muslim Nation of Islam, challenged Black men to be introspective, to try to understand that the psychological wreck that we are is tearing at the social fabric of Black America. Remember, he asked that Black men march or rather gather to atone. To atone for what we’ve done to each other, to our women, and to our abandonment of family values. lxxix The real therapy in my mind is that hundreds of thousands of Black men gathered together for a single- minded purpose and did not have to ask for permission!” “Defnitely therapeutic,” I said, feeling exhilarated by the Soul’s point. The Soul continued. “In this model the now-aware Black man fnds himself moving to the Redirection stage (stage three). He now feels ownership of his identity, he controls his destiny, perhaps this is where he establishes a locus of control that is decidedly internal. He now does not place as much emphasis on the roles of Whites, the focus is now on 69


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him and his Blackness.” “At stage four of the model, Internalization, the Black man now sees himself as liberated. Liberated from the burden of White racism, and thus, he can now interact with the White man on an equal basis. On the one hand he embraces the ideals of America, the freedoms of choice, speech and religion, as well as the freedom to gain fnancial wealth. On the other, he stands ready to fght the evils of racism, oppression, poverty and White superiority. This is where the Black man looks at the White man instead of up to the White man.” He challenged me by asking if I could think of an event that may have positively impacted the conscious or subconscious awareness for Black people. I pondered the question for a moment and then the light came on and I smacked my forehead with the palm of my hand. “That’s a no brainer, we have a Black president!” I said with pride and confdence. The Soul chuckled. “So why is that a positive thing for the psychological resurrection of Black people?” “Are you kidding? I mean, how can you even ask me that question?” “Because I want you to tell me why it’s important that we now have a Black president. I don’t have all day. Well I do actually, but think about it and answer the question.” “Well,” I said, “frst and foremost he is a Black role model, really at the highest level. There is no other position on this planet as recognizable as that of the President of the United States of America. Furthermore, think about all of the negative stereotypes of the Black man in America and he blows them all away. He’s super intelligent, funny, athletic, a family man, a poster child for what the Black man should strive to become. He acts like he’s free, has psychological freedom, I mean.” “No,” interrupted the Soul, “I liked plain ‘ole free instead.” “Here’s where I think you hit it on the head, the President may not

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sufer from the same psychological genetic mess that’s been passed down to you and me.” “How’s that?” I said with growing interest. “The President comes from a union of a White middle-class American woman and a Black Harvard-educated father from Kenya, Africa. In their generational family history, neither of them had to endure the 300+ years of the horrible combination of slavery and White racism. So, I would say that while the President is a wonderful role model, he’s not a Black American. He wasn't born and raised with a psychological predetermination as are most Black men. He is psychologically free, and that’s his greatest gift to us. He has shown us that a free man's options are limitless. The irony is that he is an African-American in the truest sense of the words. Who would have thought we would have an African as President of the United States of America. Give that some thought. So the next step is to get a Black American elected to the White House. Now that would be something else.” “Wow! Do you believe what you just said about the President?” I asked, feeling somewhat bewildered. “Of course!” “Well, since we did not discuss this early on, enlighten me please, as to the diference between a ‘Black’ man and an ‘African-American’,” I asked, rather sarcastically. “OK, people of the African diaspora – dispersed African people – whose ancestors were enslaved or indentured throughout the America’s and the Caribbean are what I would call ‘Black’ people. They are still searching for their identity and struggling to recover from hundreds of years of abuse as we mentioned earlier. Those Africans whose parents migrated to diferent lands of their own free will and are citizens of those lands are what I call African- it could be American, Brazilian, Italian, etc. While these people’s ancestors did sufer through colonialism, they were

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never stripped entirely of their language and culture, they know who they are. Like so many Europeans are proud to tell us, they (Africans) can trace their roots back hundreds of years. So, the diferences between the two are, in my opinion, cultural, and psychological. Not everyone will agree with that, but again, it’s my opinion.” “I see what you are saying but I disagree with it,” I said. “Why?” “Well, because Black is really just a color isn’t it? There are Black people, color wise, all over the globe--in India, Pakistan, aboriginal Australia, Fiji, and New Zealand, obviously Africa, and probably more. What makes the term African-American so descriptive is that it reflects our connection with Africa, and makes it important to me, and to others, though I personally prefer the term Black.” I fnished, feeling a little out of breath from getting my point out so quickly and stumbling a bit over my words. “I see,” said the Soul. “I am proud of my African heritage. The African blood that flows through me gives me a real sense of dignity, and I’m honored by that. However, (here it comes, I thought) I’m no more African than I am Australian, or Fijian, or Indian. Thanks to the efficiency of the White slave owners, almost all of the customs, norms, mores, values – culture - that represented my African ancestors (whomever they may have been) have been stripped away and in its wake we have developed a new and diferent identity and culture. Black American.” “May I make a comment here, addressing this issue from my perspective?” an unfamiliar voice asked. “OK,” I said, now prepared and looking forward to another interlude from one of the Brothas. I could sense the Soul smiling again. “Who are you?” I asked. “I am Adisa. ‘The Soul’ asked me to come and talk with you about mentoring as well as other related ideas. My family comes from Ghana,”

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he said. “How old are you?” I asked, “You sound like a young man.” “I am 21,” he said, “but more importantly, concerning your views of Blacks and Africans, it is not as amicable as you Blacks depict it.” “Go on please and explain,” I suggested, making a mental note of his use of the term “you Blacks.” “OK, sure.” I mean, people, yeah. People -- OK. So it's unfortunate that we have made this barrier. But I mean, we cannot ignore that there is a system that's very – there's a very negative connotation on both sides of the barrier. Where Africans look at Blacks very negatively and Blacks look at Africans very negatively. “I’m amazed that you would say that,” I said. “Because Africans, then, don't consider themselves Black? I mean, why do you say that?” I asked, amazed and conflicted at the same time. Adisa continued. It's funny. It's funny. Being from Ghana, it's a little diferent. Ghana was where a lot of the sects came from. And it's one of the frst country-- it is the frst country that actually tried to create a dual citizenship so that a Black could come back and have their citizenship within the U.S. and Ghana. So I mean, we're defnitely more welcoming, but the fact of the matter is that there's a lot of Africans that look at Blacks and they stereotype. So they're actually racist towards Blacks. Very negative. I think even my mother until she kind of -- until she actually was kind of put together with – 73


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when she came to America and was kind of (put together) socially with Blacks or was connected with actual Blacks that she saw well, they're not that bad. But she, I think -- I think I heard of was, she also (has) sisters and it's abundant. It's abundant because we're looking at them. I mean you come from Africa and we're looking at them like, OK. They've been here for how long? Why haven't they been able to rise out of the ghettos or slum -- wherever they are. Why, I mean we're looking at them as gun -- gun toting, get them locked up, diseases da, da, da, da, da. “I really never would have thought that, but I can understand it,” I said, still a little shocked because his thoughts challenged my idea of a solidifed Black diaspora where we were all diferent but were looked at and thought of as equals. Nevertheless, I continued to be fascinated by the discussion, and I was gradually becoming more aware of the reason he chose to share this. This is not a revelation taken from a superiority standpoint; I think it’s a position borne of misinformation about the American Black man. Stereotypes of him, the Black American male, know no boundaries, for not only are they played out in the living rooms of Chicago, Boston, and St. Paul, but also in the cities, towns and villages of Africa. I've actually ... done research on this. And, you know, I kind of think why is there such a division? So I kind of really dug deep and read into it. And then that's how I kind of found out a little bit about what Ghana's trying to do to kind of end this barrier, because if you think about it, we are the same people. No matter when you left the motherland, you're still part of the motherland.

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“So what do you consider yourself, as far as your identity is concerned?” I asked. Me, I'm technically, as the defnition states, African American. Because I am -- I am an African, I mean, both my parents are from Ghana. But I was born in America. So if -- that's the defnition, I know they usually use it for what we call a Black male, but I am an African American. And many people when they look at me, if it wasn't for my name, they would think I was Black. So my whole life, I've basically lived as a Black person. And I embodied a lot of -- I don't want to say Black characteristics. I mean I am what I am. Adisa’s words are fast, suggesting that he is a bit nervous sharing this with me. My shock and awe did not discourage him from continuing his thoughts on the subject, which led me to believe that he is a young man of great internal strength. His thoughts are in tune with the Soul’s ideas about Black Americans and their brothers in the diaspora. Clearly, there are Africans who view the Black American, particularly the Black man, as a failure. It left me wanting to know more from this young African – American. Before he could go further, the Soul jumped in. “We will get to hear more from Adisa as we continue this journey,” he said. A little disappointed, I said, “Later, Adisa.” He gave no response, and as the Soul was beginning to continue on, a new voice chimed in. “Hey Soul, oh man that sounds weird. Let me add a few words to what Adisa said.” It was another one of the Brothas. “Introduce yourself,” the Soul asked. 75


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“Oh yeah, I’m Pierre, Pierre St. Jacques. I’m Haitian, and I have a little diferent perspective,” he said. “No problem, Pierre, how’s your family. Heard you were getting ready to have another child. ‘Gettin’ a little old for more kids aren’t you?” The Soul said, with what I would guess was a smile. “Everyone’s fne. Yes, the baby is due in a couple of months, I’ll send an invitation to the shower. Hey, I’m only 38 so I’m still a young man, but this is the last one for sure,” he said, and began, What does it mean to be a Black man? I don't consider myself Black. I've never considered myself White, you know, for the contrast. I've always considered myself a Haitian man. In Brooklyn, when they asked you where you're from, they don't ask you - a Black person asks you where you're from, they don't ask you whether you're from Brooklyn or Queens or anything. They ask you what island you're from. So they actually want to know what island you're from and there's a sense of pride from the island that you derived from. So I've always been Haitian. “So you self identify then as Haitian not as a Black man?” I asked. As was the case with Adisa, I’m surprised by how Pierre chooses to selfidentify. He too, says this rather matter-of-factly, that he is not Black. Just a Haitian. A Haitian-American? That I don't know. If I got to Haiti, they will call me an American in a heartbeat. Yeah. I never considered myself Black or White. In the South, I fnd it to be ridiculous to be Black or White. What do you mean by that?” I asked. 76


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Folks stay under this blanket of excuses if -- in the barbershop, I have to get into all that. From the Black man and from the White man, I get along better with those who don't have a color. They are a nationality. No color. Folks that have color hide behind this color for -- it's because he was Black -- it's because he was White. There's no other excuse. There is no other excuse. There's no other reason. There's no other possibility. It's always either Black or White. Now, I'm not dismissing Black or White issues. You can't do that. Because women in the Haitian community, there are Black and White issues. There are light-skinned and dark-skinned issues. There are education and not education issues. So there are issues, but I will frst consider the -- I will frst consider the possibility of lack of relationship before I consider the possibility -- I will consider the lack of, you know, relationship prior to the same color. If this person got the opportunity to know me, he would respect me. Their respect is probably to me the most important thing. And you don't have to, but if you get to know me, you have no choice but to. You have no choice but to. And it's not because of me, again, it's because of my relationship with the Lord. …so people miss out. They miss out. And so I've never considered myself -- and me being Haitian didn't keep me from Jamaica. My wife is from Jamaica. OK. Some of my best friends are from Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Saint Croix, Trinidad. 77


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It's a variety. And they were never Black. There were from Saint Vincent you would call them I can call fve people right now who -- where you from? And they live in Brooklyn, but they'll tell you, I'm from Saint Vincent. They've never been to Saint Vincent, but they from Saint Vincent. You know, where are you from? I'm from Jamaica. So they never accept America. In other words, we have a culture but we live within the culture. OK. So nothing against America, if I'm fling out an application, I'm not going to put Haitian; I’m going to put American. But if you ask me, I'm going to tell you I'm Haitian. And that's just who I am. You know, that's who I am and it's me. There's nothing else to it. So, I don't know...you know, (the) Black and White issue. Why this is there. I'm not saying it's not, but I was never brought up with that and I don't understand it. “ “I never would have thought that the islands are so independent,“ I said. Oh, it's bad. It's bad. Mm-hmm. And, see, that's the whole thing, Black folks fght against islands, White folks fght against religions. Fight them. Huh? So why am I taking it personal if a White guy doesn't like me? A Black guy doesn't like me? The Haitian doesn't like this person. The Trinidadian can't stand Jamaican, butt's too big. This is the kind of talk you'll hear. And because of the island that they're from. And you break it down and you can say Bloods and Crips. People have issues with people. Therefore, I'm not going to let people issues get in my way period. Does that make sense? 78


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Tall people don't like short people. Short people – I never considered myself Black. I know I am Black. But I've never considered myself Black. I'm Haitian because Black doesn't have a – Before he could fnish his thought, I asked, “Well, how much do you consider your African heritage, if at all? Have you ever thought about that?” I've never thought about it. I've never been to Africa. The only thing I have -- you know -- I'm just Haitian. It's just like me. You know, and I don't know nothing else. And Pierre moved on after those words. “I’m sorry, but I have to say my piece on this topic,” It was Rock. “Please do,” I said. I was interested in hearing a Black American’s viewpoint on this. The truth should be told, and not only just on the sides of what the White man did to us, but how we allowed it. … because there’s a huge dissension between Africans and African Americans, and no one is doing any dialogue about that. ‘Cause I have clients and friends that are Africans, and they look down on us, and I say, ‘You know what? I look down on y’all. Y’all sold us out. All this crabs in a bucket. That comes from y’all. That’s an African thing. You still killin’ each other in your own country. You still kill your kids.’ The Sierra Leoneans are still cuttin’ of – or the Liberians are still cuttin’ of the arms of Sierra Leoneans in a 79


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diamond (war). African countries have always been that way, so there’s so much dissension. Now, we’ve come to a country in slavery, didn’t own nothing. You had a continent, and you let them take it away from you. So don’t come over here lookin’ down on us. Why can’t we have a place to call home because out of any ethnicity, if you are a descendent of a slave, you’re probably the one group that don’t have any true representation on this planet. You can’t call Africa home ‘cause you really don’t know what it is, and they don’t have that same love for us that you think because we’re not – that culture is not – it’s two diferent cultures. “Right,” I whispered. Rock has grown, I thought to myself. When I frst met him he was barely out of his teens, a young man with a wild spirit and an active mind. He wore his emotions on his sleeves. Still emotional, yet reserved, he seems to have given this much thought, this division between two brothers, the African and the Black. You can’t call America home ‘cause they really don’t want us here under how we got here. That’s why I have like a profound respect of the slaves from the Caribbean island because they call their country home. They have a lot of patriotism. You don’t see Black people runnin’ around wrapped around in American flags, but you see Trinidadian people, Jamaican people, Barbadian people.” “Haitians,“ I added. Haitians. But Black men and women (Americans) that are descended of slaves, what are we patriotic to? Who really wants us? Where do we belong? So I mean 80


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that’s a story that I don’t think has been told yet. At that, he just said, “I'll holla at you. Peace.” And he was gone. “Wow!” I said dumbfounded that my assumptions about Black people and the diaspora were not quite like what Pierre, Adisa and Rock had shared; I now understood the people of the diaspora not as a homogeneous group of Black people from the Americas, the Caribbean, and Africa, all standing together as one proud Black nation, but rather as diferent groups of people with African ancestry as their common bond, uniquely proud of their ethnic and cultural heritages on one hand, and critical, estranged and fearful of each other on the other. As I reflected on these conversations about the disconnects between men of African descent, I’m wondering why we’re having this discussion. Though important, how is this related to mentoring? I fnd myself asking that question often, and I’m certain that’s part of the Soul’s plan, to get me to think beyond the surface to fgure out the purpose of these interludes and their relationships not only with the current topic of Black identity development, but the larger topic – mentoring. One thing is for certain; the four men that have spoken with me thus far are all coming from a diferent perspective, a diverse population of adult Black males. It’s much too early I think to get a sense of where they might be as far as recognizable stages of BID. However, based upon the Soul’s defnition of mentoring, perhaps these are instances where it shows how communication and respect are important aspects of the mentoring relationship. The willingness to listen to others and respect their opinions, ideas, and history are important. These interludes from Adisa, Pierre and Rock, along with the discussion in general concerning the African diaspora got me to thinking about a poem I read by Nikki Giovanni, Africa 81


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i am a teller of tales a dreamer of dreams shall i spin a poem around you human beings grope to strangers to share a smile complain to lovers of their woes and never touch those who need to be touched may i move on the african isn’t independent he’s emancipated and like the freedman he explores his freedom rather than exploits his nation worrying more about the condition of the women than his position in the world i am a dreamer of dreams in my fantasy i see a person not proud for pride is a collection of lions or a magazine in washington d.c. but a person who can be wrong and go on or a person who can be praised and still work but a person who can let a friend share a joy as easily as a friend share a sorrow it’s odd that all welcome a tale of disappointment though few a note of satisfaction have none of us been happy i am a teller of tales i see kings and noblemen slaves and serfs all selling and being sold for what end to die for freedom or live for joy i am a teller of tales we must believe in each other’s dreams i’m told and i dream 82


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of me accepting you and you accepting yourself will that stroke the tension between blacks and africans i dream of truth lubricating our words will that ease three hundred years and i dream of black men and women walking together side by side into a new world described by love and bounded by diference for nothing is the same except oppression and shame may i spin a poem around you come let’s step into my web and dream of freedom together. lxxx “Deep, and appropriate,” I said. “I remember Afros and Dashikis in the late 60’s and 70’s as a way of expressing myself,” I said. “Consciously or not, you and other Black people were expressing your disposition of the White look that you all had been trying to achieve. Remember when you were just eight years old and your cousins left the relaxing cream in your hair for several hours before someone fnally realized your head was chemically being fried?” “Yeah. Now that is a memory I will never forget. I can still feel the burning sensation. I was trying to get a ‘Doo’.” “The point here is that before Black was beautiful, we processed our hair to look like White hair, our women wore wigs or straightened their hair to look White. Everything White was right and good. And remember how light skinned Black people were adored on one hand, and scorned and ridiculed on the other? We were both envious (good hair) and jealous (good hair) of them simultaneously.” “So, Black is beautiful was kind of like a national therapy, a redirection from Whiteness to Blackness, if you will.” I said, half questioning half commenting. 83


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“Yes,” said the Soul. “But” he paused, “think about where we are at today. See any similarities, especially among Black women between now and pre Black is beautiful?” “I was just thinking about that myself. Black women are spending a fortune getting their hair straightened and weaved. Wearing long flowing wigs. It’s like déjà vu all over again.” “Right on point. Which goes back to what I was saying that healing is an incremental process. We take two steps forward and one step back. It will take generations to overcome the psychological stranglehold we are experiencing,” he said. “We’ve strayed far from the last stage, the Internalization stage of the Jackson model,” I said. “Yes we have. Let’s fnish this. Bailey Jackson also introduces at this stage the notion that Black people grapple with contradictions associated with bi-culturalism (identifcation with two cultures). lxxxi Fanon, noted, ‘the black man possesses two dimensions: one with his fellow Blacks, the other with the Whites. A black man behaves diferently with a white man than he does with a fellow black man. There is no doubt whatsoever that this fssiparousness is a direct result of the colonial undertaking’.” lxxxii “Du Bois understood this dilemma as early as 1903 when he surmised:” After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, Born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American World, - a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in 84


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amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness, - an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”lxxxiii "Before you go on, what exactly is fssiparousness?" I asked. "Oh, my bad. It means breaking into parts. In the Fanon context, it relates to the dual dilemma of the Black man and how he is not himself around White people. Does that work for you?" "Great. Thanks for clarifying. But it begs the question as to why you quoted it here. I thought this stage dealt with being yourself. Not justifying who you are and your place in American society." "Yes, but remember the last part where Jackson suggests that people sometime grapple with the bi-culturalism. That's also why I quoted Du Bois. Also, think beyond the Black and White of this dual dilemma and recall Adisa, Pierre and Rock, as they tried to cope with their duality, being Black and African, Black and Haitian, and in Rock’s case Black and American. In each situation, being Black is at the core of their confusion.” The Soul went on to his next point. "According to Jackson, one of the goals of this stage of BID is to eliminate racism and other forms of oppression in the world. Jackson sees BID theory overall as a harbinger for humanistic education and suggests that Openness, Feelings and Personal Growth should be assumptions and outcomes for a person whom has transitioned through the stages of BID.”lxxxiv “Considering Jackson's thoughts on the Internalization stage, understand that eliminating oppression does not come from ignoring the problem, it comes from facing the problem, one's self, and then moving on to educate others so that they themselves can grow. Borrowing from 85


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Thomas, they will be ‘Boys No More’lxxxv understand?" “Yes,” I said. “And let me just leave this last tidbit on the Jackson model, courtesy of Freire,” said the Soul. “Let’s hear it.” Liberation is thus a childbirth, and a painful one. The man or woman who emerges is a new person, viable only as the oppressor-oppressed contradiction is superseded by the humanization of all people. Or to put it another way, the solution of this contradiction is born in the labor which brings into the world this new being; no longer oppressor nor oppressed, but human in the process of achieving freedom.lxxxvi “So, let me summarize for you what these models are trying to say." “Great,” I said, “though in some respects I can see the obvious connections.” “OK then, give me your take on the models. In others words, please give me your summary.” I began. “These models share many similarities in that they seem to address an overall sense of awakening of a Black person as they transition from ‘Negro to Black’ or rather as they begin to become enlightened by the sheer vastness of racism. They begin to reframe their own picture, and subsequently, they come to terms with their Blackness, and by doing so become more human in the process.” “Dead on! There are others who studied these models and provided some additional thoughts that I will share with you. But again, your summary is right on point.” “Thanks,” I said. The Soul continued. 86


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“Geneva Gay’s analysis looks at the models from this perspective: ‘Each, in its own way, accounts for an ideological metamorphosis of ethnic identity, perceives this transformation as a dialectical process, assumes that the transformation is a liberating process which symbolizes psychological healthier state of being, and uses the idea of developmental stages to account for movement of individuals from negativism to positivism in their self ethnic identities’.”lxxxvii “Wade Nobles adds that, ‘The four-stage process proposed by Cross situates the process of metamorphosis within a particular social context.’lxxxviii In addition:” Readers should be reminded, however, that many of the Nigrescence models, including the one proposed by Cross,lxxxix originally were meant to discuss “the phenomenon of identity metamorphosis within the context of a social movement and not the evolution of identity from childhood through adult life.”xc “One of the areas where these theories seem to have missed is the time span or rather life span of the individual and during what period is an individual likely to experience Nigrescence? Are there recurrences of Nigrescence? According to Thomas Parham, one of the implications of BID models ‘is the notion that racial identity issues are completely resolved once an individual has completed a single cycle through the Nigrescence process, which usually is assumed to occur during the lateadolescent/early-adulthood period of a person’s life.’xci He addresses this by theorizing that Nigrescence 1.) ‘is a lifelong process, which begins with the late-adolescence/early-adulthood period in an individuals life,’ xcii 2.) ‘As a Black person proceeds through life, there appear to be at least three distinct possibilities with respect to how he or she deals with his or her 87


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racial

identity:

Recycling.’

xciii

Stagnation,

Stagewise

Linear

Progression

and

Most important of these may the the notion of ‘Recyling’:”

defned as the re-initiation of the racial identity struggle and resolution process after having gone through the identity development process at an earlier stage in one’s life. In essence, a person could theoretically achieve identity resolution by completing one cycle through the Nigrescence process (Internalization) and, as a result of some new experiences that stimulate identity confusion, recyle through the stages.xciv “It is good in a sense that recycling occurs, because it prevents you from becoming complacent. It’s like being half asleep, your eyes close and your head nods, but somehow, startled, you wake up, look around to see where you are, gain some level of comprehension or rather perspective and move on,” I said. The Soul continued. “Others have suggested that the Nigrescence models do not go far enough in defning Black identity. Na’im Akbar criticizes the transient nature of the Nigrescence process, he states that they (Cross, Parham and Helms), ‘appear hesitant to take the theoretical “quantum leap” to affirm that African/Black identity is the core context of the Black “real self”’ xcv as well as his assertion that Nigrescence is inconsistent with his thoughts that Black/African identity is a bio-genetically determined core of Black self.” “You know what’s coming. What does biogenetical determination mean?” I asked. “I think Akbar is saying that the Black man (or woman) has a connection with his or her own identity rooted in their African ancestry. 88


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The ‘real self’ is the African/Black self. This identify becomes more relevant and intuitive as the African/Black person becomes immersed in her/his culture. Hence, any transition through a psychological Nigrescence is unlikely to occur because the positive self-identity is a pre-existing condition, not predicated on social encounters with Whites, but rather on social awakening of African/Blacks.” “Some have taken the basic premise and applied it to specifc aspects of the Black experience. For example, Thomas Parham and Lavada Austinxcvi explore how psychological Nigrescence impact the career development of African Americans. They argue that, ‘The extent to which race and culture play an integral role in career development and behavior should not be underestimated, and the consideration of variance within the African American culture can be particularly revealing with regard to one’s vocational aspirations.’”xcvii Nothing should surprise me now, given where the Soul has taken me. However, I would not have given much consideration as to how deep racism impacts Black people. We don’t even realize that the very careers we aspire to – or don’t aspire to – are somehow impacted by the role racism and White superiority has played in our lives. This reminds me of a conversation I had with a relative a few years ago. She was lamenting about the lack of desire that her husband was having with regard to seeking a job. They argued about the subject of and on. But she knew she was willing to give him a certain degree of space considering that he had a criminal record. One day, she explained to me, she had sensed his frustration and felt the need to provide comfort and encouragement. She asked, “So what did you want to be when you grew up?” He replied, “What do you mean?” “Well, you know, when you were a kid, what did you dream of becoming when you became an adult? Maybe you can try to get training 89


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in that feld.” At this he reflected for a moment and then, not looking at her but at the floor replied, “I don’t remember dreaming of being anything or anybody when I grew up, I guess I never really dreamed.” There was silence in the room for what seemed liked minutes, both of us, me and the Soul contemplating the impact of that last sentence. The Soul continued. “Susan McMahon and Roderick Wattsxcviii conducted a comprehensive study of Chicago youth with regard to ethnic Identity and the linkages between self-worth and social aggression. In their fndings they noted, ‘In sum, the results suggest a strong positive sense of global self-worth was signifcantly related to lower levels of anxiety and depression. A strong positive sense of ethnic identity was associated with more active coping, fewer beliefs supporting aggression, and fewer aggressive behaviors, when taking into account global self-worth.’” xcix “This research basically is telling us that when Black people begin to recognize their sense of self-worth and positive self-identity, they become less violent. On the one hand that’s a good thing and on the other maybe that’s not so good,” said the Soul. I was stunned by that statement. “I would think under any circumstance that would be a good thing. Less violence and aggression equals less crime (in theory) and fewer arrests, which would be less periods of incarceration. That’s a great thing!” I said, feeling confdent in my assertion. “I fgured you would have that response and your points are accurate. Yet, I’m concerned not about a positive self-identity, but rather a negative or an illusory Black identity. See the diference?” “Not really.” “Here’s the deal, I’m certain you understand the concept of positive 90


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self-identity. So, a negative or illusory Black identity describes a Black person who denies Blackness at every turn. Have you ever met someone who, whenever you talk about Blackness or race in general they say something like ‘Why do you always harp on that, we’re all the same?’ Or, one of my favorites, ‘Well, I was born and raised in a mixed neighborhood, so I have just as many White friends as Black friends.’ This is all a defensive response for their lack of a positive Black identity or rather a negative or illusory Black identity. They need to justify their comfort zone with Whites and their lack of comfort with Blacks. They tend to follow White norms, their movies, music, sayings, dress, speech and other mannerisms. What they don’t realize is that they are uncomfortable being Black, so in a sense they are deceptively Black.” Deceptively Black, I thought. I’ve met people who defnitely ft that description; I think for a period of my life, so did I. “There has even been research on BID and the dynamics in college classrooms. Rita Hardiman and Bailey Jackson c explored this concept. In this, they reviewed the Jackson BID model, and conducted research, which is intended to ‘help teachers and administrators alike understand the developmental processes that Black and White students are undergoing and, in fact, may assist faculty and staf in understanding their own racial identity processes.’” ci “Well we probably need more research and prescription in this area. Not only is White superiority present, but as that quote by Woodson earlier suggested, it is taught in the classroom on a daily basis. Perhaps not quite as blatantly as Woodson pointed out but certainly no less efective,” I said and continued, “I know the point of their research is centered on improving the process by which instruction is delivered, however, we certainly can’t ignore the content of that delivery.” “Of course we can’t ignore the content, it’s one of the primary ways that the dominant culture maintains its social and psychological grip on 91


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the oppressed,” the Soul said. Then he seemed to be in thought and added “Let’s talk a little about the concept of hegemony right now, this seems like a good opportunity to do so.” Not surprisingly, the Soul said, “Before you ask me what hegemony has to do with BID and the relevance to mentoring, let me go into the discussion and I’ll see if you can make that connection for yourself. Is that cool with you?” “Sure.” “First, of course let me give you a defnition of hegemony, so that we are on the same page.” Again, he borrowed from Brookfeld. “Hegemony is the process by which we learn to embrace enthusiastically a system of beliefs and practices that end up harming us and working to support the interests of others who have power over us.”cii “So, this is somewhat in line with Freire’s thoughts that we are hosts for our own oppressors?” I asked. “Yes, somewhat, but an important point to remember here is the cultural aspect of hegemony. In fact, when we speak of hegemony, we are really speaking in terms of cultural hegemony more often than not. Hegemony, as a system, is inter-connected within every aspect of our daily lives. It flows through the media, through our legal system, entertainment, and schools. Antonio Gramsci who is best known for his theories relative to hegemony made this crystal clear, ‘Everything which influences or is able to influence public opinion, directly or indirectly, belongs to it: libraries, schools, associations and clubs of various kinds, even architecture and the layout and names of streets.’” ciii “As we were just talking about education, it’s notable that Gramsci mentioned schools as an avenue where hegemony, aka, White superiority, drives home its oppressive views. Henry Giroux makes this point with his analysis of radical educators: ‘Instead of blaming students for educational failure, radical educators blamed the dominant society. 92


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Instead of abstracting schools from the dynamics of inequality and raceclass-gender modes of discrimination, schools were considered central agencies in the politics and processes of domination.’ civ Finally, the last word on hegemony as it pertains to education from Michelle Jay:” Consequently, schools, through their organization, structure, and curriculum (both formal and hidden), aid in the maintenance of hegemony by acculturating students to the interest of the dominant group and the students are encouraged and instructed, both explicitly and implicitly, to make those interests their own.cv “Hegemony appears to be the mechanism that is used to keep us unaware of our own oppression,” I said. “It’s fair and balanced,” said the Soul. “Now, are you prepared to give me your interpretation of the connection between hegemony, BID and mentoring?” “I just like to keep things simple,” I said. “Then simplify it.” “Alright. Well, the Black man came to America in shackles and chains, enslaved. Through the years, the physical chains were removed, and they were replaced by a cultural enslavement. As your defnition suggests, hegemony is a process, and that process has continued nearly unabated for hundreds of years, the process of ensuring that the Black man remains inferior, a boy. BID helps the Black man, through metamorphosis, to break through this psychological subjugation, to become a man.” “As for mentoring, the activist mentor helps the protégé uncover the cloak of hegemony. You know, helps him see that the media, schools, religion, the criminal justice system, all have at their core a set of values 93


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that promote hegemony. The knowledge helps the protégé to become liberated from this oppressive system, which is in efect racist. Before I fnish, let’s revisit your defnition of racism.” “Sure, it’s the modifed Wellman defnition - racism is culturally sanctioned beliefs and practices which, regardless of the intentions involved, defend and enhance the advantages Whites have because of the subordinated positions of racial minorities,” the Soul recited. “Does that not sound like hegemony?” I asked. “Yes, it does.” “That’s what an activist mentor would point out to his protégé,” I said. “Nice,” said the Soul. “Thanks.” “Let us move on.” “That’s an awful lot of information relative to psychological Nigrescence. We’ve just about exhausted the subject,” I stated. “Well, there is more, but I have one more point to mention here that’s important, the Cross and Jackson models have been updated since their original versions appeared in the early and mid 70’s. I deliberately used the older versions so that we could keep the discussion in its original and I think proper context. These models were born out of a social movement rather than a scientifc or scholarly movement. They are relevant to this discussion because activist mentoring is a psycho-social movement and the Black man should have tools available to understand changes, if any, he might experience as a result. And speaking of movements, next I want to share with you the ideas, concepts and tenets of critical race theory, which is important so that we can have a lens through which to address some of the social issues afecting Black men, as we have explored the psychological.” I leaned back in the chair that was situated next to the desk and contemplated my conversation with the Soul. The knowledge I have

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gained relative to Black identity development theory has been powerful. It has given me a perspective from which to review the past, view the present, and preview the future as it relates to my own identity and perhaps the psychological state, at least as it relates to Black identity, of any future protégé.

Critical Race Theory “We’ve explored a critical area in the development of the Black man, his psychological albatross. Yet, what are some of the outcomes of this burden? We touched earlier upon the fact that the Black man has collided with the legal system on many an occasion and more often than not he has lost. In fact, if this were a prize fght, the Black man would have sufered a unanimous defeat if not an outright knockout.” “O.J. Simpson won a case that a Black man would have usually lost. He got a win.” I said, not with much pride but more with matter-offactness. “And where is he now?” “In prison?” I said, not really sure but thinking that he was convicted of stealing back his property or something. “Down for the count! A Brother has little chance of beating this system, way too many fences.” “Go on,” I said. “I mentioned the duality of the Black man, being considered super athletic and at the same time morally desolate.” “Yes.” “The system we live in keeps the Black man in sort of a dual trap. Obviously, there is a psychological barrier as we’ve just explored. In addition to that, there is the social barrier as well,” he said. “It kind of feels like the barrier is much broader than psychological, if that makes sense,” I said. “Yes it does, because it is. Let me explain,” said the Soul. 95


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“Well, it feels like we are allowed to roam freely, or think we are roaming freely, when in all actuality there are fences that keep us enclosed. The fences are the legal, educational, economic and political constructs. The fences were built by Whites to keep and maintain their superiority over the Black man. And, depending on who or where you are, the fence may be very small in size and scope or very broad, seemingly not there, but always present.” “For example, if you are a Black male from a traditional inner city environment, could be Detroit, Baltimore, or Atlanta, pick one, then those fences are very small indeed. Black men feel squeezed in by the fences which I’ll just call the system (going retro), and for many they will be born into an economic circumstance which puts them at an immediate disadvantage – in August of 2010, the unemployment rate for White males 16 and over was 8.7 percent and for Black males of the same age, 16.3 percentcvi - on the other side is an inadequately funded and poorly constructed educational setting – Black males aged 16-24 were twice as likely to drop out of high school as their White counterparts, cvii over there is a political system that’s often corrupt and uncaring about the needs of the community, as with the ex-Mayor of Detroit, cviii and if they go that way they run into the biggest fence, the legal and criminal justice system waiting for them to make decisions that will ultimately land them in jail. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Criminal Ofenders Statistics, ‘based on current rates of frst incarceration, an estimated 32% of black males will enter State or Federal prison during their lifetime, compared to 17% of Hispanic males and 5.9% of white males.’”cix This was a revelation for me. I have a son who is in his teenage years. It dawned upon me that he has very little room for error in his life. One false move and, bam, he’s on the legal/criminal justice fence. I cringe to think that after all of my years of trying to be a good and caring father, 96


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things are really out of my control. The system controls both me and my son, and either one of us could become a victim of the system in any given moment – a system that makes it six times more likely that he or I will go to prison than our White male counterparts. “Fortunately, there is theory, rather a movement, whose goal is to unveil the disparity of the legal system, actually of the system at large, and how that system in fact serves the interests of Whites, thereby promoting the ever present umbrella of racism. The group of scholars and activists who laid the foundation for this are known as critical race theorists, CRT for short,” the Soul said. “If it will help me understand the system of racism a little better I’m all for it.” “CRT started as a movement and according to Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic ‘is a collection of activists and scholars interested in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power.’cx Adrienne Dixson adds that CRT is an attempt to address inequality and racism, and moves beyond intellectual and into the realm of social justice activism.’”cxi “Well, that – the exploration of social justice – is one of the reasons I applied to the program at National-Louis University. Many schools give it lip service, but few deliver the goods. Perhaps that’s why you are here,” I said. The Soul continued. “CRT’s main theoretical contributions are its tenets, which have spawned additional research. CRT theorists believe: 1) Racism is ordinary and permanent in American society. 2) Race reform and justice is tolerated by Whites only when it suits its interest to do so – better known as interest convergence. 3) It is a critique of liberalism and the notion of color-blindness. 4) Whiteness functions as a form of property. 5) It seeks to look at history from a revisionist perspective – that is to take historical 97


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social landmarks and view them from the lens of non-whites. 6) Rights are based on property and not human rights and 7) It lends narrative voice – storytelling, to the discussion of racial inequality from the perspective of those whom have experienced it.” cxii “Let’s break each of these down, though in some instances we may merge topics, so there is mutual agreement on what they mean. Can you run with me here?” I smiled. The Soul’s comment reminded me of Dr. Cole, one of our professors in the doctoral program whose style of lecture captivates and leaves her students hanging on every word. Permanence “Do you believe that racism is a permanent fxture in American society?” “Yes!” I said without much hesitation. “When you go back and review much of the discussion we’ve had regarding slavery, White superiority, and hegemony, add them all up, there is this overarching, persistent, omnipresent structure, or system that can only be labeled racism.” “OK,” he said. “But what if one of your White friends, or even Black friends, presents the argument that racism is non-existent. Are you ready to engage in that discussion? How would you respond? Before you answer, remember there will be those who will ultimately tell you that they are not racist, and in fact slavery ended well over a hundred years ago? They will point out to you, as you proudly mentioned, that we have a Black president and we’ve had Black men and women in key positions of power for years. They will certainly point out the successes of Black athletes, entertainers and coaches. And of course they will tell you that some of their best friends are Black. How do you respond to this, if as you say racism is a permanent fxture in our society?” “Going back to your modifed Wellman defnition, I would sum it up by saying that as long as White people have all of the political power, 98


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e.g., Congress, the Supreme Court and the joint chiefs; all of the economic power, e.g., wealth and poverty gap; cxiii as well as information control, e.g., media and education, then regardless of anecdotal examples of Black success, America (and those who beneft from a racially imbalanced construct) is a racist society.” “Do you remember the movie trilogy, Lord of the Rings? asked the Soul. “That’s random. Of course I do. But what has that got to do with anything we’ve discussed,” I said, somewhat confused. He went on. “Well, then you’ll remember a part in the Fellowship of the Ringcxiv where Isildur cuts the ring of power from the fnger of Dark Lord Sauron, and had one chance to destroy the ring in the fre of Mount Doom? Do you remember what happened?” “Yes,” I said. “Isildur didn’t destroy the ring, he wanted to use the ring for his own power and greed.” “Correct. How is this remotely relevant to anything we’ve discussed? Well, I was trying to fgure out a way to talk to you about the Constitution and the framers of that document, and it dawned upon me that they too had one shot to make things right, at least as it relates to slavery and the condemnation of a race. And guess what? They chose power and greed as well,” he said. “Explain,” I asked. “Well, I’m not going into constitutional law-- frst I’m no expert, and second, it’s not really the subject here, however, to emphasize this point about the framers, I’ll borrow from Derrick Bell’s allegory, The Chronicle of the Constitutional Contradiction.cxv His alter ego, Geneva Crenshaw, travels back to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 to address the contradiction of White freedom versus Black slavery, all within the context of protection of property and the compromises that were made 99


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to the slave states to form the union.” “So, you’re telling me that slavery was a bargaining chip? That the lives of millions of people were condemned for hundreds if not thousands of years, because of ego, economics and power? I guess humanity just went to the bathroom to freshen up while those discussions were being carried on!” I exclaimed. “Yes, and as Elrond tried so desperately to convince Isildur to destroy the ring of power, so did Geneva try to convince the framers to consider the outcome of their decision:” What is lacking here is not legislative skill but the courage to recognize the evil of holding blacks in slavery – an evil that would be quickly and universally condemned were the subjects of bondage members of the Caucasian race. You fear that unless the slavery of blacks is recognized and given protection, the nation will not survive. And my message is that the compromises you are making here mean that the nation’s survival will always be in doubt. For now in my own day, after two hundred years and despite bloody wars and the earnest eforts of committed people, the racial contradiction you sanction in this document remains and threatens to tear this country apart.cxvi “Interestingly, one of our most cherished pieces of Americana, the Star Spangled Banner, has an ironic verse that speaks to the hypocrisy of our national pride:” No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave: And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave 100


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O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave! cxvii “Ready to move on?” “Yes,“ I said, thinking that I don’t recall hearing Whitney Houston or Marvin Gaye recite that verse of the lyrics. Interest Convergence “Interest convergence is one of those concepts that may challenge the way you’ve viewed things in the past, let me move back from that statement, because most if not all of these topics should have that same afect. What I should say is that the concept of interest convergence threatens the very principles of the civil rights movement that we thought were ours – that we had fnally won the battle for equality, was all a grand illusion. It’s not as simple as being like, “School integration, yeah, we win!” Interest convergence forces us to reexamine the civil rights victory in that it argues that Whites never give up their position of power and dominance unless it suits their best interests. cxviii The deck is stacked, in other words.” “It’s kind of like the character in the Invisible Mancxix who was used by Brother Jack and his liberal friends to gain political power in Harlem. They supported the rights of Black people as long as the support helped them in their quest. When the Invisible Man character needed to help the Black citizens of Harlem, his interests were diverted to woman’s sufrage, which ultimately, without his leadership, led to civil strife in Harlem. When they – the Brotherhood – needed him, they used him to meet their needs, and when he became a liability, they spat him out like chewing gum that’s lost its last vestige of sweetness.” Property Value “Let’s take that last thought, White superiority. We’ve talked about it in the context of slavery and oppression, but what we have not discussed is this notion that CRT scholars call ‘Whiteness as property’. See, early on 101


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in the history of this country, the courts decided that there was value in being White as opposed to a non-White and those decisions have had a lasting impact on race and place in the nation,” said the Soul. “Harris explores whiteness as property and traces the evolution of whiteness with respect to race, status and property as it has progressed, with its roots soundly based in white supremacy, and economic hegemony. According to Harris, property functions on three levels, possession, use and disposition.cxx In addition, she adds, “Possession – the act necessary to lay the basis for rights in property – was defned to include only the cultural practices of whites. This defnition laid the foundation for the idea that whiteness – that which whites alone possess – is valuable and is property.”cxxi “I guess you are right, we are fenced in,” I said. The Soul heard me but continued. “Gloria Ladson-Billings adds ‘It is because of the meaning and value imputed to whiteness that CRT becomes an important intellectual and social tool for deconstruction, reconstruction, and construction: deconstruction of oppressive structures and discourses, reconstruction of human agency, and construction of equitable and socially just relation of power.’”cxxii “W.E.B. Du Bois noted that whiteness yields a ‘public and psychological wage’ to all white workers, which is expressed in the freedom to mingle across social classes, preferential treatment by police, eligibility for government jobs, and simply a greater sense of well-being than blacks.” cxxiii The Soul continued. “As we touched upon earlier, Whiteness has privileges that people of color certainly do not have, at least in America. According to Carole Lund and Scipio Colin, III:”

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Those who have white privilege have tremendous power; they never have to think about race or challenge racism. The result of white privilege is that one has to live by those attributes held by the privileged; the privileged judge the success or failure of peoples of color.cxxiv “Damn, that’s like being in the ring with someone and the referee is his cousin, and the three judges are the Dad, uncle, and brother. No way you can win a decision, and if you happen to knock the guy out, they disqualify you for a low blow or a phantom head butt,” I said, very much aware of my mounting frustration. “Yes, and to compound matters, if you lay on the ropes, which are synonymous with the fences we talked about earlier – educational, political, legal/constitutional, and economical – you’re in a vulnerable position as well,” he said. Revisionist “Let out your emotions, I’m here for you. When you are ready, let’s move on,” said the Soul. “I think I understand the next tenet. I feel like we covered the revisionist perspective and have been covering it during this entire discussion,” I said rather quickly, to hide my emotions. “For example?” “Well, let’s take for example the grand slavery narrative that I mentioned earlier. I could only see the good – if there’s such a thing – slavery story. Yet, as we began discussing rape, torture, branding, commodifcation, etc., it dawned upon me that this was not the sanitized version any longer. It was a version seen through Black eyes.” “That’s a great example,” he said. Now feeling like I’m on a roll, I said, “I also know that we’ve covered property rights, though not in much detail, but again, during our 103


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discussion about commodifcation, we mentioned the value of slaves and the rights of their owners, not only to buy and sell them, but the right to rape and breed them. And of course your presence here and your ability to recall much of the information that has been read, is a great way of getting your message across to me in the guise of storytelling.” “That’s quite right. But the intent of storytelling is to see how the ‘system’ can take two stories, or rather to see how the system can look at the truth, not necessarily just from a legal viewpoint, but the actors viewpoints, particularly those of color,” he said. “I have a story I'd like to share which I think takes two diferent views of the same situation and the outcome for Blacks, well...I'll just tell the story.” “Sure. Let's hear it.” Again, instead of speaking out loud, I decided to internalize my thoughts. When I was 20, in my second year in the Air Force, I was stationed in a most desolate place (for me), at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. They used to say, “Why Not, Minot?” The response was “The Reason is Freezin.” Anyway three friends and I journeyed south and east to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to attend a funk concert. The featured artists were Raydio, The Ohio Players, and Bootsie Collins. The concert was great. It ended in the wee hours of the morning. After the concert, we (Tashaun, “Doc” Arnold, Terry Prince, and me) ventured into St. Paul, Minnesota, to get some food. I recall stopping at a Jack in the Box chain and ordering burgers. I noticed we were the only people in the restaurant, but hey it didn’t seem to matter. I remember getting this funny feeling when Tashaun put his afro pick in his back pocket and covered it up as we were walking in. The night crew on duty gave us this really strange look that just seemed

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nervous, I shook it of as being a little paranoid. We ordered our food, sat down, and began to laugh and reminisce about the concert. As we left the restaurant, we noticed four police cars outside of the establishment, which made us curious. As we walked towards our car, the police shouted for us to halt. We thought they were talking to someone else, because we had done nothing but have a late night meal. When I stepped of the curb into the parking lot, an officer put a gun to my head and threatened to shoot if I did not stop. Breathing faster, I stopped and put my hands over my head. I could only think of my mother. I envisioned her hysterical and in tears as I lay in my casket, shot in the head by this police officer. How would they explain this, what type of cover up? All this going through my mind in the split of a second. Coming back to reality I realized that Tashaun had not stopped walking toward the car, seemingly oblivious to what was happening to us. I shouted, ‘Tashaun, stop!’ He fnally noticed what was happening and stopped. The police searched all of us, and the vehicle. They found nothing. We explained that we were active duty military on vacation, but that did not seem to matter. Finally, they were convinced that we meant no harm and let us go. As we drove of, all were silently sharing the same thought. Here we are, four Black men, serving our country, and we cannot get any respect in our own land, not even at a burger joint. “Sorry about that,” said the Soul, who is with me in thought as well. “So am I,” I spoke. “Surely, our reality, our story, was much diferent than that which was told to the local police officers. We know which one they believed – at least initially.”

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“Let us move on.” “Naw, I think I’m going to get a drink. There’s a lot to think about. Is that cool?” I asked. “I know what you mean. I’ll be back tomorrow, you still have a lot to learn.” Before I headed downstairs to the hotel bar and restaurant, I had to sit back and reflect on today’s events. I was unaware of the magnitude of the psychological albatross that is racism, and its roots from slavery. Fortunately, the Soul shared some ideas and knowledge about Black identity development (BID) and critical race theory (CRT), which have helped me make sense of the world. The BID stages, basically from an assimilated Black man – a Negro – through an awareness stage, rage, overt Blackness to a free willed and equal Black man, are the theoretical stages one goes through from being a ‘boy’ to a man. His thoughts on the four fences (the system) – economic, education, legal/criminal justice, and political – exposed by the tenets of CRT, is frightening, and unfortunately it has entrapped and ensnared far too many Black men. “Before you head down to the bar,” interrupted the Soul, “know that we will be getting to the core of why I came here, we are going to begin talking in more detail about mentoring. We are going to talk about role models, and the diferent types of mentoring, as well as discuss the links between mentoring and adult education. I feel good about where you are at right now, and I think after tomorrow you will be prepared to talk about the process of mentoring. Our goal is to help others become mentors – activist mentors - adult Black men establishing and maintaining mentor-protégé relationships.” “See you in the A.M.,” I said, and headed out of the room.

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CHAPTER 3 WHAT WOULD CHARLES BARKLEY DO? I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth, And laid them away in a box of gold; Where long will cling the lips of the moth, I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth, I hide no hate; I am not even wroth Who found the earth's breath so keen and cold; I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth, And laid them away in a box of gold. cxxv

It was near that time when class would be dismissing for the evening. I had just a few minutes to touch base with Mack before he left for his home in the suburbs. I pulled out my cell and gave him a call. “Hey Mack. It’s me, what are you doing after class this evening? Still want to have that drink?” “Yeah Bro’,” he replied. “OK, I’ll see you in the hotel bar in about 20 minutes,” I said. “Cool.” I took time out to call my wife and check up on my two youngest children. All was fne she said and asked me if all was OK on my end. She’d thought she read something in my voice that was a little out of character. At frst, I intended to tell her my predicament, but thought better of it, ‘cause I did not want her worrying needlessly about me. I 107


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decided I would wait for the end of this class session and tell her all about it on Monday. I made a mental note to text my three older daughters to see how they were doing. I gave her my love and said goodbye. Mack was waiting for me when I arrived at the bar. He had ordered a beer and I asked for a glass of cabernet. We began with talk of the class and how everyone wished that I got well soon. We started to talk about his job and his growing dislike for his work environment. He is a trainer for a Fortune 100 company and he, like myself was unknowingly going down the path of middle class assimilation. He ofered, “Man, I am getting frustrated with White folks. They talk about diversity but in reality they only ofer a one-time course that purports to discuss the cultural diferences between blacks and whites, but actually just tells white people how we are diferent from them so they can pat us on the head like little puppies to make us feel better.” Thinking of my discussion with the Soul over the last couple of days, I asked, “Why did you whisper when you talked about Black and White? I no longer do that.” I used a voice that was strong and perhaps a little bit above normal conversational tone, because I wanted to get my point across to him. Slightly stunned, he answered, “No longer do what?” “Use the little ‘b’ and the little ‘w’. Let me explain. Have you ever noticed that most of the time when Black people discuss race, racism or Black and White diferences, they whisper (I said this very meekly for emphasis)? It’s like we are scared that someone is going to arrest us or something. Well that’s what you just did when you talked about racial issues at your job.” Mack reflected on this and smiled. “Yeah, you know you are right, I

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and we do whisper when we talk about race. Man I never really noticed that before.” “Well, now that you know, what are you going to do about it?” I asked, smiling as well. “I’m gon speak up. I ain’t scared to talk about Black and White and race issues, if it’s important enough to talk about, then it’s worth talking about it in a clear and normal voice,” he said, loud enough for the two White guys sitting next to us to hear. We were both feeling good about this tiny little freedom we had just given ourselves. I then asked him if he pointed to a part of his body when he talked about race with a Black friend in the work place. He laughed and admitted that he did, I told him most of us do the same. I suggested that we should make a pact and liberate our friends. “Let’s bring it out of the closet, and put it out there where it belongs. If we Black folk and White folk can’t talk about race, guess who is harmed in the long run?” I said. “Sho’ as hell not White folk!” he exclaimed. We had another drink and talked some about our impending research and what types of theoretical frames and methodologies we would be using. We then turned to a discussion of married life, children and the future of Black men in America. Finally, we parted ways and I went upstairs to my room. I got out of my jeans and shirt and lay down for the night. Again, I looked up at the ceiling and wondered about all of the things that had occurred with the Soul and the others. I was surprised that neither appeared. I called down for a wake-up at 5 a.m. so that I could get a workout, and went fast asleep.

One on One “Let’s talk about mentoring!” I heard a voice command, and groggy, I glanced at the clock on the 109


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nightstand, “Damn, it’s just 4 o’clock in the morning! Dude, let me get some sleep, let’s discuss this a little later OK?” I demanded. “Let’s not,” he said. “You have to be in class by 9 a.m. and you can forget about working out today, you’re in good shape.” “I don’t really have much choice, do I? At least let me go to the bathroom and do my thing before we start, Awright!” I screamed. Laughing, the Soul said, “Cool, but don’t stay long and please don’t take the paper.” And he began that Vincent Price laugh again, you know the one I’m talking about. I freshened up, brushed, showered, and tried to shake myself into the mode of reality (my dream mode had been pretty good, but I’ll share that later perhaps). Anyway, I walked into the room this time without my towel – what’s the point? I got dressed in a few minutes and sat on the bed. “OK, let’s here it,” I said with more than a hint of sarcasm. He began. “Earlier, we defned mentoring as a one-on-one relationship based upon trust, communication, respect, and commitment between two people of similar racial, gender, social, and cultural backgrounds. The purpose of the relationship is to educate and guide. It’s like an unwritten contract of sorts, whereby the two parties agree upon their roles in the relationship. The mentor provides motivation, guidance and direction, based primarily on their lived experience within the racial, gender, social and cultural setting. The protégé takes the role of learner, seeker of knowledge, student and interpreter.” “It dawned upon me that your defnition makes the mentor sound like an educator. Are mentors considered educators?” I asked. “That’s a really good question. When you think about it, everything we’ve discussed has been educational.” “True,” I said. “So my answer then is, yes, I believe mentors are educators. In fact, I’ll

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go a step further and suggest that activist mentors fall into the category of adult educators,” said the Soul. “Explain.” “Absolutely. Where do I begin?” he said, simultaneously talking to himself and to me. “I think I’ll start by telling you that there are a great number of defnitions for adult education, as you would imagine. Sean Courtney defnes adult education as, ‘an intervention into the ordinary business of life--an intervention whose immediate goal is change, in knowledge or in competence. An adult educator is one, essentially, who is skilled at making such interventions.’”cxxvi “It makes sense to me, but honestly it seems rather simplistic,” I said. “Yes. But remember the concept of life is free of complications, it is very simplistic; it’s the living that brings about the complications, the same can be said of knowledge,” said the Soul. “What you just said is confusing.” “Think of it this way, everyday you are in the business of life, correct?” “Absolutely,” I said. “And everyday, you learn something you didn’t know the day before, no matter how simplistic, is that true?” “Yes, that’s true as well.” “If that information comes from a relationship you have with an activist mentor, then that person is an adult educator, because the information he is providing is defnitely leading to change in knowledge, and I would add world view,” said the Soul. “I guess you can’t break it down any more than that,” I said. “Let us move on,” said the Soul. “Before we do so, I have another question regarding your defnition of mentoring and adult educators. ” “Let’s here it.” 111


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“Your defnitions suggest that all responsibility for learning is incumbent on the mentor. Is it solely a situation where the mentor is giving and not receiving? I mean, can’t knowledge be shared, as in communication, by giving and receiving?” I asked. Then continued, “After all, isn’t reciprocal teaching and learning one of the fundamental principles of adult education?” “Yes,” said the Soul. “Your assumptions are correct, mutual teaching and learning are crucial, if not fundamental to adult education. According to Freire, ‘Education must begin with the solution of the teacher-student contradiction, by reconciling the poles of the contradiction that both are simultaneously teachers and students.’cxxvii In addition,” Freire has examined the contradictions in the relations between educators and students, between mentors and those who are mentored. Traditional pedagogy, in the simplest terms, operates from the position that the teacher or mentor is presumed to know and the learner to “know not” and therefore the teacher must transfer or export knowledge to the learner, who “receives” learning in a manner that denies the validity of the ontological and epistemological productions of the learner and the learner’s community. This is an authoritarian, manipulative, “banking” pedagogy, which negates the possibility of democracy and distorts the lived experiences of the learners who are silenced and denied the opportunity to be authors of their own histories.cxxviii “In other words, the last quote is saying that mentors have a

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responsibility to listen and value the experiences of the protégé. When the mentor takes this approach he not only learns something more about the protégé, which helps him become a better mentor, but he learns a diferent interpretation of life, which helps him become a better person,” said the Soul. “Also, from a mentoring standpoint, some suggest that burnout could occur if mentoring is engaged in a teaching only capacity. cxxix Glenn Omatsu explains,” Why is it so important to appreciate mentoring as both giving and receiving? Understanding mentoring as a reciprocal process prevents burn-out, a common malady faced by young activists and mentors. Those who burn out are those who see their work as mainly giving — whether in terms of educating others or organizing in neighborhoods or workplaces… In their work as educators, they focus on all they learn from those they teach. In their work as activists, they are able to identify all they receive back from others in the years they devote to organizing in communities and workplaces.cxxx “Does that answer your question?” “Yes, and then some. Thanks.” “Good, so let’s explore mentoring in a little more detail so you’ll have a broader background as you build your army of activist mentors,” he said with a smile in his voice “Now, there are primarily two types of mentoring. Formal mentoring, which is arranged by or facilitated by parties other than the mentor and mentee (protégé) and informal mentoring which evolve naturally between two people.cxxxi Others have suggested that role modeling, 113


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initially conceptualized as a facet of psychosocial mentoring, should be viewed as a third, separate mentoring function.” cxxxii “Do you agree with that, I mean the notion of role modeling being a third or separate function?” I asked. “I would not agree with that assertion. First, let’s agree that a role model is a person whose behaviors, personal styles, and specifc attributes are emulated by others.cxxxiii Having said that, I think the absent piece in role modeling is the one-on-one connection. Trust goes both ways and typically the person looking up to the role model trusts that person, but the role model has no connection, no responsibility to reciprocate. Heck, he may not even know he’s a role model.” “Do you remember when Charles Barkley told the world that he is not a role model and it was up to the parents to raise their kids?” “Yes. I remember, it was somewhat controversial, though I kind of agreed with him,” I said. “Well, he was right and wrong at the same time.” “Explain.” “I believe what he was trying to tell us is that he is not a mentor, not a guide, nor life coach. He had not established a relationship with your kids or her kids or their kids. Parents and formal and informal mentors are the people whose responsibility it is to make those connections. However, where he got it wrong is that he certainly is a role model – that's something you don’t get to choose, instead, the person who looks up to you makes that choice – and with that comes public and private scrutiny. However, it does not mean a role model like Barkley must establish a level of trust with all who look up to him. It’s not possible. Remember our defnition, the two parties in a one-on-one relationship must agree upon their roles, whether spoken or unspoken, within that relationship.” “Don’t get me wrong,” said the Soul, “role models make great 114


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mentors, if they want the job. Gooden’scxxxiv analysis of and fndings with regard to fve schoolteachers and fve ‘street’ men, found that the role models at home and through fraternal organizations had positive influences on the participants.” “So, the main diference, then, is the one-on-one connection between mentor and protégé,” I stated. “Correct.” “I just want to add a few other points on role models. In Long and Farr,cxxxvi the lack of positive role models were influential in the development of several of the men in their study and, according to them, had a negative impact. Conversely, one of the research participants claimed that his success was due to a loving environment at home, replete with positive male (and female) role models. So, I don’t want to discount the impact of role modeling because it can be a very signifcant enhancement to the mentoring process,” he said. “Where were we . . . oh formal and informal,” he said and continued. “Though there is value in formal mentoring, our eforts will be mostly focused around informal mentoring between Black adult males. According to Bruce LaVant et. al., ‘Informal mentoring is an ad hoc, spontaneous relationship, established by two or more individuals for the beneft of those involved.’” cxxxvii Let me ask Daniel, he prefers Dan, to give you a few words on his relationship with his mentors and how that started.” “Thanks, I’m really pleased to be part of this discovery,” Dan said. Then he began to tell me about his mentors. I'd say one of my frst mentors in South Carolina, Reverend Dr. Abraham Paul, Junior. Our relationship is kind of very much familiar because his late mother used to watch us as a young kid, as a baby…It wouldn't 115


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be until later when I had my family that, you know, I would come to his church and eventually joined his church. I sensed how to conduct myself as a minister. How to conduct myself as a man… when it came down to church doctrine, you know, being there sound in the word of God. I knew that I needed to listen – that I could listen and hear the concerns of the congregation. It's really responsible, this pastoring, you know, your own business is taken care of when it came down to representing God. And the second person, this past summer, Dr. Redmond, he is a professor of education. He is somebody that I actively sought. I've talked with him in depth with personal as well as professional goals …to become a principal. Actually, my goal is to become -- work on my doctorate as well. And so, with that in mind, I have, you know, I've talked with him. I’ve asked, is this the right move or do I need to wait. Who do I need to talk to, you know? What do you think of this move? Running things past him. And he’s been very candid. He’s been very open in regards to his own personal life as well as his professional life, and for that I have a great appreciation. Because it’s made a world of diference to the decisions that I will need to make in the future and how I need to make them and, again, I will not hesitate to pick up the phone and call him and say, hey, Dr. Redmond, I’ve been hearing about this. What do you know? Or how would I need to approach this? So with that, understanding…it’s very invaluable. 116


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Dan fnished his story, and his experience with establishing an informal mentoring relationship was certainly interesting. I’m sure I will get the opportunity to dialogue with him again. I fnished reflecting about Dan’s experience with establishing a mentor – protégé relationship and asked the Soul, “So why aren’t we looking at both formal and informal mentoring?” “That’s another in a long line of good questions. In informal relationships, people tend to look for role models as mentors. Remember what Dan just said, 'He is somebody that I actively sought.' They want someone that looks like them, acts like them, or has a certain skill that they want to emulate. According to David Thomas, a positive experience occurs when the protégé sees some of himself in the mentor. He adds, ‘Close mentoring relationships are much more likely to form when both parties see parts of themselves in the other person: the protégé sees someone he wants to be like in the future.’ cxxxvThese are relationships that tend to last because typically both the mentor and protégé want to be in the relationship. Unfortunately, there are situations with formal mentoring where people are required to be in the relationship and that could lead to discomfort and mistrust. Here’s what Catherine Hansman says about formal mentoring relationships:” There are downsides to formal mentoring. Arranged mentoring relationships, just like all relationships or marriages, can be unsuccessful and fail. Mentors and protégés might not share enough common interests to form and maintain a successful relationship. What is particularly problematic, however, is the way both mentors and protégés may be chosen by organizations. Senior employees who are asked to serve as mentors to protégés may be chosen because they best represent corporate culture and dominant cultural 117


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values. And protégés may also be chosen based on dominant culture within the organization – employees who are marginalized because of race, gender, class or sexual orientation may never have the opportunity to be formally mentored. cxxxviii “Additionally, Hansman suggests care be taken prior to establishing formal mentoring programs and asks the key question, ‘whose interests are being served, the organization’s, the mentors’, or the protégés?’ cxxxix Rain Newbold-Coco adds that ‘Formal mentoring programs can fuel discontent, anger, resentment, and suspicion due to forced coupling.’” cxl “That makes sense. If an organization requires mentoring, it may be difficult to get someone that you connect with or feel like they have your best interests at heart,” I said. “Now there is one other type of mentoring which I failed to mention, its peer mentoring,” he said. “Warren Bradencxli discusses peer mentoring within the social group of ‘homies’ in Chicago. In this, information, knowledge, and the social activities of caring, sharing, etc. are shared within a certain group of same or similar aged and circumstanced individuals.” “Coinciding with these types of mentoring, Tarek Grantham notes three types of mentoring programs: (a) educational - which is academicbased and focuses on improving achievement (b) career – centers on the development of skills necessary to continue on a particular career path, and (c) personal development – focuses on personal, psychological, and/or social stress and provides guidelines for decision making.” cxlii I think in Dan’s case, his mentors seem to be both career and personal development focused,“ I said. As I said that, another thought came racing to the forefront, like a child in second grade who’s eager to answer the teacher’s question, I said to the Soul,

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“A thought just occurred to me. I was thinking that maybe people are in mentoring and guidance situations quite often.” “Go on,” said the Soul. “Well, think about when we talked about microaggressions. Those small innuendo’s and racially motivated remarks that serve as put downs toward people of color.” “I don’t see the connection.” “Well, what if we highlighted the everyday occurrences and instances of teachable moments, rather mentoring opportunities – micromentoringopportunities,” I said with excitement. “I see your point,” he said, and continued. “Glenn Omatsu, cxliii talks about ‘little moments’ in his discussion of mentoring. He ofers,” In our communities, mentoring is reciprocal and not one-way — i.e., mentoring involves an interactive process in which both the mentor and mentee beneft. And, perhaps most important, mentoring in the real world occurs not only in “big moments” but mainly in “little moments” — i.e., as part of our daily interactions with others.cxliv “Exactly!” I said with excitement. “Little moments, or rather micromentoringopportunities occur daily and to echo Omatsu, are most important to the mentor-protégé relationship.” “How would you defne a micromentoringopportunity?” asked the Soul. “I’d say that a micromentoringopportunity is a deliberate or coincidental interaction between mentor and protégé, where communication occurs about a non-prescriptive event, and a cultural, racial, gender specifc, or socially based opportunity exists for an exchange of knowledge - teaching and learning,” I said. 119


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“For example, if I’m sitting in the house watching a television show with my son, a micromentoringopportunity may arise if during the show a Black man is sentenced and incarcerated. I might share with my son the disproportionate sentencing of Black males, vis-a-vis, White males. I might go on to share with him how racism plays a role in these kinds of disparities in our society.” “I’m impressed,” said the Soul. “I think you are on to something.” Then, as always, out of nowhere one of the Brothas began to speak. “Soul, I want to share my story about my mentors, at least the frst ones to impact my life as a young adult. Is that cool?” It was Rock. “Hey Rock, I’m very anxious to here what you have to say, let’s here it,” said the Soul. I got you. I graduated from Suitland High School in Maryland. The only role model I would say that I had at that particular time, that kinda kept me on a right track, actually, was the barber in my neighborhood. His name was Terrell. And he told me I was diferent, and he expected more from me, and he kinda pointed out some things in my thinkin’ that I still use today that made me believe I could do more with my life, that I don’t have to succumb to what you see around me. I would say it started with that. And one of the most prominent things that Terrell used to tell me was, “Do what you wanna do, and be who you wanna be because you have all the gifts, as long as you believe it.” And we’re still friends to this day. So I had to make a decision in 1989, when I graduated high school. Now, you gotta understand, I graduated from Suitland. That would be the DMV today, District of Columbia, Maryland, and 120


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Northern Virginia. That year they had 555 murders. I mean, kids would come to homeroom and not come back because of the drugs and things. And I made a decision that I had to get away from that. I graduated with a 3.75 average out of high school, and I shoulda went straight to college, but I chose a diferent path. I went into the U.S. Air Force. And fortunately enough it was a life-changing experience. My frst assignment I did very well. It was in Seoul, Korea. I met two guys, and I’m gonna tell you, they are – the frst one that I met was a Lincoln Saine. He was a technical Sergeant at that time. He was from Indianapolis, and then, I met another gentleman (you). And after I left home, I would say these two African-American men had the greatest impact on my life. And I say this not because they were in a role or capacity of leadership, but they were in a capacity, to me, of understanding. I think they’ve seen a lot of things. And they saw a lot in me that they’ve seen in themselves, and they used to talk to me about what you need to do for the future. So it was – it was interesting because I used to get mad, at ‘em. They held me to such a high standard, I’s like – “Why you so tough on me?” But as I grew older, I understood. Lincoln was my direct supervisor. And you know, he made it quite clear that, at this age, and at this career feld, being a weather forecaster, your education is very important to you. And I don’t know whether I was naïve, gullible, or just knew what that meant to me, but I believed everything Lincoln told 121


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me. So much to the point I did anything he asked me to do. And I did it out of respect for him. And I also did it out of – I knew he had my best interest. And then you came into the picture…and what I liked about you, you were very candid, you had a high level of standards, and you expected the best of everybody. And you made me feel like I could come to you, and talk to you about a lot of things. And I never told you this, but being a young male, and being 18, it’s very important that you fnd someone older than you that looks like you, that acts like you, that come from where you come from, and have done all the things that you wanted to do. I loved y’all guys, ‘cause y’all talked, y’all were in college. You were – you had already fnished your degree, and those are the things that I wanted to do, and you really had a tremendous impact on my life. From just basic stuf, I remember you using words, and I used to say, “Let me ‘axe’ you somethin’.” And you would say, “A-X-E or A-S-K?” I mean, just the little things that you did, and the standards that you held yourself to because we were in a career feld that were mostly dominated by White males. “Mmm hmm,” I muttered. Thinking to myself that this visit with Rock has reinforced my thoughts about role models and mentoring. As the Soul mentioned, anyone at anytime can be a role model, so it’s important to stay true to your values. Listening to Rock recall virtually word-forword moments – perhaps micromentoringopportunities – that occurred twenty years ago tells me that those interactions were meaningful and provided a small measure of change in knowledge and competence, change that he is proud of. I didn’t know I was an educator, nor did I 122


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expect to become his mentor; I guess I was chosen for the job and I gladly accepted, that unspoken acceptance that is defned by the Soul. Rock continued. Not females, white males, and I knew we were less than ten percent, and it was a standard that, as African-American men, that I think internally, we created amongst ourselves that we expected excellence. I’ll never forget you tellin’ me, you laid my career out for me, and you don’t even realize it. Well, if you wanna fve EPR (performance report), you need to get your education, you need to get done with all your career development courses, and more importantly, you need to stay in school.” And that’s somethin’ – had I not heard that from you – and Lincoln, who knows what I would’ve done because when I look at the majority of my peers that I was comin’ up with through the ranks, they ran, and they played, and I had my fun, but I always knew I had to do more. It was expected upon me, and then the nights where I felt like I was at my best, you all made me feel like there was a level of comfort, where I could come and talk to you about my insecurities, my weaknesses, my goals, my dreams, even as far as dating other women. I’ll never forget tellin’ y’all, “I think I’m in love.” And you looked at me, “You what?” I giggled. “Well, tell me about this woman.” And then, I told you about her, and then I introduced you to her...just the things that you all taught me, you know, and I felt like, being a male, especially

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being Black, you all had my best interests. And I think, for any young African-American male, the thing that they need to get to the next level is to know somebody that’s been there, that really cares about what they wanna do, and kinda guide them along the way. So I would say, at the age 18, you and Lincoln were my frst prominent role models and mentors in my life. From being a man, from excelling academically, from being a standard of excellence in the military, from understanding what teamwork was all about, from service before self, from “Look, you young, havin’ a good time, you’re gonna make some mistakes, but treat people right.” Y’all taught me all those things. Subliminally, I don’t know if you’ve realized it, but to me, I was seeking that because here I was, in Seoul, Korea, you know, really with – wondering what – why my biological father wasn’t there, understanding that my stepfather had my back, but just lookin’ for someone like myself that could help me be who I wanted to become. “So what do you think about that?” “About Rock’s story?” I asked. “Yes. Did you know at the time you would make a lifelong impression on him, that you were a mentor?” “No, actually I did not. I was doing what I would expect any Brotha to do. He was a young man with a load of talent, personality, and intellect. My role was merely to channel that in a positive direction. The truth be told, I really cared for him and his outcome in life and it seems to have paid of. I guess this was a true informal mentoring relationship, and 124


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given your defnition I guess I am or at least was a mentor,” I said, feeling suddenly proud of my impact with Rock. “Hey, I think you did a good job,” said the Soul. Getting somewhat emotional in my reflective state, I wavered a little and responded by simply saying, “Thanks.” “Perhaps he saw you as a role model and wanted to emulate you.” “I think that is true. I know I saw some of me in him and that’s another reason I was so intent on getting into that relationship. And make no mistake, mentoring is a relationship,” I said.

Standards of Conduct “Let us move on,” he said. “A thread common to several studies I’ve read is that mentoring is a process that can be used to enrich the lives of Black males regardless of whether it’s in a formal or informal setting. cxlv However, Winston Goodencxlvi adds that not all mentoring relationships are positive. When recounting the story of one of his research participants, 'Roland,' Gooden describes the way Roland's emulation of his role model, a self-made truck owner who was also a notorious gambler and fghter, got him in serious trouble.” “But, as you said, a role model is not necessarily a mentor,” I added. “Yes, that’s correct. Roland might have wanted to emulate his role model without any signifcant feedback,” he responded. “I guess one of the issues we will face is a lack of positive adult Black males to serve as mentors,” I said. “Why would you say that? I mean, what makes you believe that’s true?” “Well, one thing I know is true is that we have a high number of Black men incarcerated, given that sad situation, the fence gets closer and closer, and the pool of mentors obviously shrinks,” I said. “That’s true if we were only looking for quantity. But I think that the 125


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very reason this situation exists, the reason that Black men are squeezed into the criminal justice system, is not because we lack numbers, it's because we lack a message and a focus. We lack standards,” he said. “What kind of standards?” I asked. “Well, as I mentioned yesterday, I think we need to focus on who we are and who we are becoming. To get to know who we are, we must frst look within and ensure that we are not in the pre-encounter stage of Nigrescence. To fnd out who we are becoming, we have to transition to the internalization-commitment stage, since not only will that allow us to fnd out who we are becoming, but it will also allow us to ‘become’.” “In other words, ensure that Black men understand their history in America, not the sanitized version, but the realities of the horrors of living in America, the degradation, the oppression, the White supremacy and racism. Those things are important to understand, and it gives the Black man a baseline for consideration so that he won’t let these injustices continue. It puts the onus on him to stand up to microaggressions and institutional racism. That, in turn, shows the protégé that the mentor is willing to do what’s right to protect the high self-esteem and culture he has carved out despite overwhelming odds against him,” said the Soul. “Become an activist mentor,” I said. “Yes!” “Remember when you worked for that university in southeast Virginia a couple of years ago?” “Yes, of course,” I replied. “Well, you must remember, despite the short time you worked there, you made a commitment to fght just the minor hints of institutionalized racism. Think about it,” he said. I reflected back on my days with the university. Though short-lived, I recalled how I had three employees under my direction. One employee, a

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White woman,was in charge of managing budget, payroll, and other human resources functions within our division, and she worked directly under my supervision. There were two Black women whom she supervised. I remember how odd it seemed to me that we had two empty offices in our wing and yet the two Black women had to share an office, while most everyone else in the building, other than the mailroom supervisor, who also was Black, had separate office space. When I asked my direct report if she would move one of the Black women into an empty office, she replied she was holding the office for an assistant that she was going to hire and had included the position in the annual budget. During the next weekly staf meeting I brought the situation up to the management team. It didn’t get much play initially; however, my direct supervisor promised that she would keep it on the agenda. Meanwhile, one of the Black women pressed me for an answer as to why the situation continued to occur. I assured her that it was a process and that I was doing what I could to make some changes. Institutionally, I recognized that as a new kid on the block, I did not have much power, and I did not want to seem like I was immediately taking the side of the Black women over my White direct report. In fact, I tried to get my direct report to ‘see’ how her continued insistence on maintaining an empty office was impacting her co-workers. But, of course, she could not see because perhaps the two workers were invisible to her, or at least their needs were invisible. Finally, after several months had elapsed, I could no longer see the value of holding an empty office space for a ‘future’ employee. Besides, economic downturns had all but derailed any notion of a future employee. I sat in the management meeting and asked that this change be made immediately and that I wanted the support of the management team. My supervisor granted me the permission to make the change.

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Coincidentally, during the next management meeting, the team was informed that the university was asking all divisions to evaluate office arrangements because several situations were in place where Black employees were housed together in the same office, where empty offices were present. If it walks like a duck….. When that point was brought up, I mentioned that our mailroom supervisor did not have his own space, when there were at least three empty rooms in his wing. Suffice it to say, the senior of the two Black women was moved to the empty office space and the Black mailroom supervisor was given his own space. I recalled how proud they were that someone, a Black man, had fought to give them the resources they deserved, resources that helped them be better able to perform their jobs, but more importantly, to show that institutional racism, no matter how seemingly unintentional, can and will be fought wherever and whenever it exists. As an aside, I recall talking about the situation with them specifcally using a ‘big B’ and ‘big R.’ I was growing all along. “What you did was part of a standard that you have, that we all need, to make sure that we don’t let these types of situations go unchallenged,” he said. “Was that an example of activist mentoring?” I asked. “No. You weren’t in a committed mentoring relationship. It spoke more about your standards and values. Nevertheless, it was the right thing to do.” “Thanks. But at the time I was not really thinking about standards or anything like that. It was really the look that the Sistahs gave me, that look that Black women give you that say’s ‘OK, this is what’s up, now what are going to do about it.’ Not in a controlling kind of way, but in a way that challenges a Brotha to step up and be who he is meant to be…a man.” “Yes,” he said, and continued, “whether intentional or not the end

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result was that you were in a position to confront racism in the workplace and you chose to fght. One small step for Black man kind.” “Well let’s leap forward.” I said. “OK,” he said. “Check this out from David Thomas.” In the United States, feelings of racial identity shape unconscious fantasies and fears very powerfully. Just as superior and subordinate can enact the unconsciously experienced dynamics of a parent and child, whites and blacks can enact the history of race relations, with all its difficulty and promise, in their everyday interaction, in the micro-dynamics of supervision and mentoring, and in career planning. cxlvii “That is a timely quote, given the story I just shared. But how are the two connected? I mean, what does having standards and that Thomas quote have in common, and what does it have to do with mentoring as we’ve been discussing it?” I asked. “I see, you want me to connect the dots. I understand,” said the Soul. “Here’s the deal,” he said, “considering our mentoring defnition, understand that it’s basis is, in fact, grounded in how we see the world. Black identity development (BID) and critical race theory (CRT) are our windows to the world. They make sense of the world for us. With respect to BID, if you don’t know who you are and how you got there, you’re lost and confused. It would not occur to you that the Black man continues to sufer from the psychological scars of slavery and White superiority – that’s his baggage. BID speaks to the internal. CRT helps you understand those daily injustices, the proliferation of European – White – values and culture, hegemony and the constitutional hypocrisy that is America. It allows you to make sense of the permanence of racism. It's focus is the external. Together, they help you construct a wiser and more grounded ‘You!’” 129


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“Standards, then, are the values that you project onto and imbue into your protégé. Without standards, there really is no mentoring; it’s just the mindless transmission of European culture, a vessel for hegemony. Remember your defnition of micromentoringopportunity? The example that you gave was providing your son with information related to the incarceration of Black males. Guess what? Had you told your son that Black men need to get their stuf together and not allow themselves to be victims of the system, without sharing information relevant to injustices bestowed upon the Black man, then you could have been any White male, sitting in any living room in America, talking about a Black man.” “As for the Thomas quote, it links the idea of having a standard – to stand for something – with daily Black and White relations in the workplace, and how having a standard frees the Black man from running away from those daily tensions and liberates him to standup for himself and his Brothas and Sistahs. Thus, your stance at that University was being watched and viewed by your Black Brothas and Sistahs, you were, are, and will always be a role model, and if the right situation comes along you will again be a mentor.” “Dots connected?” he asked. “I am right on track with you, and thanks.” “Let’s wrap up our discussion about mentoring. I have just one more point to address and then I will ask the Brothas to share more of their stories for you, so that you can get a feel for how they connected with mentors.” “Looking forward,” I said. I was feeling excited about fnally getting a chance to go one-on-one with the Brothas. “OK, so Vernon Smith notes that a lack of Black males participating as mentors, led to the use of group mentoring in lieu of the preferred oneon-one mentoring.cxlviii This is not how I would want things to work out in the long run, but it’s better to start with something positive than to be 130


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content with the alternative.” At that point the Soul had fnished our discussion on mentoring. Before we moved on, I reflected back on what I had just learned from the Soul and thought back to interludes from some of the ‘Brothas’. Mentoring is really a relationship, one that is no less as deep and intimate as any other relationship whether siblings, lovers, father-son, or best friends. Mentors are more than just professional guides, life coaches, wise sages, they are all of the above, and most important they are educators. Yet their experiences alone should not overshadow and dominate their protégés, since each has a viable and valuable role in the relationship. Mentoring as a verb occurs daily, and the opportunities that exist are sometimes ‘big’ and prescribed, but more often they are ‘little’ and spontaneous, micromentoringopportunities. There are diferent types of mentors that perform diferent functions, but what seems to work best, are the informal relationships, those that develop organically between mentor and protégé. Role models are mentors in waiting, and, in a sense, all of us-- everyone--is a potential role model, which means that we should be conscious of what we do and how we carry ourselves. Black men in particular, given the challenging socio-psychological issues faced on a daily basis, must be especially aware of their demeanor. They must stay strong, vigilant, and raise themselves to a high standard, whether that’s in the home, the work place, or in a general public setting. “Let us move on,” I heard the Soul’s voice echoing from somewhere that seemed far away.

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CHAPTER 4 WHAT’S YOUR STORY? I am not a potentiality of something; I am fully what I am. I do not have to look for the universal. There’s no room for probability inside me. My black consciousness does not claim to be a loss. It is. It merges with itself.cxlix

“OK, it’s time to start fnding out more from our friends. You know, about their experiences with mentoring, racism, just about life in general. Remember: Ask questions that will help you fnd out about who they are and try not to ask closed-ended questions. Just talk.” “Why is it so important to hear their stories, I mean, why not just tell me about them? I'm sure I could get a sense for who they are and what they believe in just from your descriptions,” I said. “It sounds to me as if you are just lazy at this point. But I will indulge you,” he said, sounding somewhat disappointed. “We want to hear their stories because it is their experiences that are important. How are we going to gather information related to our guiding questions if we don’t ask them about their experiences, not just my interpretation of their experiences? Certainly, we will look at the culmination of all of their stories, and fnd out more about them as individuals and as a collective, and we will share that with our audience. It’s called narrative inquiry, but you know this from your studies.” “Catherine Riessman uses this description to identify the connection 132


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or rather relationship between the lived experiences of individuals and narrative inquiry as, ‘How individuals recount their histories – what they emphasize and omit, their stance as protagonists or victims, the relationships the story establishes between teller and audience – all shape what individuals can claim of their own lives. Personal stories are not merely a way of telling someone (or oneself) about one’s life; they are the means by which identities may be fashioned.’”cl “Yes, I understand, but isn’t there a danger in the telling of these stories and in the analysis?” I asked. “Like what?” “Well, like the notion that people sometimes tell stories a little diferent each time they tell it. Or, they may make themselves out to be more than they are; you know the ‘superman’ syndrome. In other words, how do I know it’s the truth?” I said. “I understand what you mean, and your concerns are valid. However, as suggested by Leonard Webster and Patricie Mertova, ‘narrative research does not claim to represent the exact “truth,” but rather aims for “verisimilitude” – that the results have the appearance of truth or reality.’cli This is shared by Donald Polkinghorne who points out that the aim of human sciences should be to produce results, which are ‘believable’ and ‘verisimilar’.clii And rest assured, these stories are certainly believable.” “I guess I’m just going to miss the entire weekend at school,” I said to the Soul. “Yes, but if the whole point of going to school, at least in your program, is to gain knowledge, what better epistemological construct can you have than what’s being played out here? Before you ask for clarifcation, I’ll just share with you the defnition of epistemology: the study or a theory of the nature and grounds of knowledge especially with reference to its limits and validity.” cliii 133


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So it began, my conversations with fve men of African heritage – all whom I consider Black, in ages ranging from their 20’s to their 50’s. I could not see them, so the Soul was kind enough to give me physical descriptions. Several of them have already provided opinions on matters related to race, ethnicity, and mentoring. One thing I noticed from the Souls’s description, all were brown or dark brown skinned in complexion. I wondered why the Soul did not choose any light-skinned Black males, which I believe would have given me a much more diverse set of experiences. The same can be said of age, I think he could have provided me with someone in their 60’s or beyond, who actually experienced, as an adult, the pre-Civil Rights era, and could comment on the psychological condition of himself and his community. It should also be pointed out that none of the participants are women, nor are any of them openly gay, bisexual, or transgender, and given his interest in teaching me about mentoring relationships between adult Black males, that makes sense. While these factors are somewhat limiting, I believe the individuals he has asked to speak with me ofer a rich and wide-ranging base of experience rooted in their education, career, economic, and religious beliefs.

Rock “It’s been a while since we last broke bread together. How is your family?” I asked. “They are fne. I have two sons and, of course, you know my beautiful wife Deidra, she is still fne!” he said, with a nice hearty laugh. “Rock, tell me a little about your family, your roots, if you don’t mind,” I asked. I gotcha. I’d like to start with sayin’ this: who I am today is a sum total of my thoughts, and a collaboration of all the mentorship that I’ve had along my life.

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My life has been a tremendous journey. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. There’s things that’ve afected me positively, things that I wish I coulda changed, but you know, it is what it is, so I’ll start out with my life. My mother, my mother’s name is Naomi. Besides my wife,she is the most prominent individual on this Earth that has afected my life. And I pretty much grew up most of my years, with my mother as a single parent. I do have a biological father whom I’ve only met once, at age 14. My stepfather was in my life, who my mom married when I was about age 3. They separated probably by the time I was age 4, but he was around at age 10 or 11, but he became a signifcant role model in my life. When I really needed it, probably around age 14 until I graduated high school. But there was a huge absence of a father, so to fll that gap, I had uncles. My mother comes from a family of eleven kids – six boys – six girls, fve boys, so I did have them – I did have an uncle around. My uncle Jim, my uncle Steve, my uncle Carlos were the uncles that lived in Virginia that mentored me and helped along the way. But predominantly, my mother was the one who raised me. That – if I had to say, the one person that had the most afect on my life, and my childhood, would be my mom. She had three boys. We were three children by three diferent fathers. I met my father one time – my biological father – at age 14, whom I – I really didn’t know who he – I did not know who my real father was until I was age about 10. And 135


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ironically, the whole town knew who my dad was, but me. I found out who my real father was through an argument with my younger brother, Greg, who’s three years younger than I, and then, I have another brother, Wesley, who’s younger – 15 years younger than myself. And my brother and I, one day, basically was in an argument. And I was like, ‘I’m gonna tell Daddy,’ ‘cause my Dad was his Dad, whom I thought. And he was like, ‘Well, you know what? That ain’t your damn Daddy.’ I’s like, ‘What the hell you talkin about?’ ‘Your Daddy name Ike Hampton.’ I’s like, ‘Who the hell is Ike Hampton?’” And you know, I had to ask my mother, and she told me. And from that day forward, I would probably say I’ve been on a quest all my life to fgure out who this gentleman was, but as I became an adult, and other people fulflled those roles in my life, I think my quest for him kinda subsided. But as I became a man, and got married, the signifcance of having a father in your life, throughout your life, became even greater because I’m a guy that’s – I would say I’m successful, and I’m blessed. And God has done a wonderful job with me, but one of the things I could say that I miss the most, for my kids, is that they don’t ask where their grandfather is. So me growing up with that period of time, without a father, really is afected me as a individual. It’s moved on to the next generation because my children don’t have what you would call that secondary role model. I’m their primary, but I think there’s 136


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always someone greater than you that has more experience that could afect your kids in ways that you don’t know. And that’s one of the things that I miss. So that’s kinda like my story. I think that my mother did a – such a great job with me that she didn’t allow me to succumb to the absence of that role model. She exposed me to other prominent men like my uncles, and things like that that allowed me to believe in myself, as opposed – and in addition to what she instilled on me. And my mother, I could still hear her today, ringing in my ear, “You’re young. You’re gifted, and you’re Black. You got to do twice as much as they do to be the same – to have the same level of success. Don’t go out and have kids at an early age.” I can remember sneakin’ and being with girls, and my mother in my left ear, and the beautiful girl in my right ear, and vice versa. And so, she’s my everything. I would say that because she made me believe in myself, and she put people around me that helped believe in me, I grew up expecting that. So I don’t take mentorship for African-American males very lightly. I think that it’s the one thing that we need to get better at to the next generation. Mother set a standard for me, and if I didn’t do it, she made me feel like, you know, I had to answer to the community, to my uncles, to my neighbors, to my stepfather, to my grandparents – who’s on the stepfather’s side of the family that, you know – if you got a bad grade, it just wasn’t in your 137


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house. It went down the street. It went across the telephone. It went to everybody. So I’m blessed to have that in my life. “Thanks man,” I said. I noticed that Rock had used the term standard in his last sentence. Not only did his mother instill in him a sense of aspiring to a high standard, but so did his extended family, his village if you will. I recall how often he referred to the term in his earlier conversation about his mentors, “So it was – it was interesting because I used to get mad, at ‘em. They held me to such a high standard, I’s like 'Why you so tough on me?' But as I grew older, I understood.” For him, it seems that part of his foundation as a Black man is based upon his perception of having a high standard. Remembering my discussion with the Soul on this subject, I’m not surprised that Rock has such high standards, or expectations, given his high sense of self-worth, his positive self-image, his internal locus of control. I also noticed his thoughts about his secondary role model, his missing father and how this sense of deep reflection dominates his conversation. I wanted to know more, so I asked the Soul to call upon Rock. “No, why don’t you call upon Rock,” the Soul said. “If you want to know more, just ask.” With that I felt somewhat empowered and asked, “Rock, you seem to be very comfortable with your sense of self, can you tell me more?” Yeah. Me, I am who I am. I think I’m a well-rounded individual as well because of my military experience, the schools that I went to. I’ve been exposed to a lot of diferent things, so that gives me a lot of comfort. I like being around a lot of diversity. If I’m in a room full of White people, it doesn’t bother me.

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And I think the main thing is I’m comfortable with who I am, and I also carry who we are as a people very high. So who am I, to not be who I am around them and represent us in a positive light because I know for a fact that they think of us in a diferent way. So every chance I get to prove that Black men are positive, Black men are great fathers, Black men are very professional, I let ‘em have it, and I do it in all my Blackness and all my likeness, and I don’t change who I am. I can’t. I do well with that. I’m very loyal, but I will never change myself. And I think that I’m comfortable with it as well because I’ve seen a lot of other successful Black men like yourself, a lot of other successful professors that I work around at Howard University. I’ve just been exposed to a lot of other rich Black people, and I see that they don’t change, neither am I. You don’t have to. “If I were to characterize Rock, with respect to BID, I would say that he is in the last stage of each of the models. He's a Black man who not only knows who he is and his place in the world, but who seems committed--committed to his family and to his values.” I said, directing my comments at the Soul. “According to Bailey Jackson, “Black people in the Internalization stage no longer feel a need to explain, defend or protect their Black identity…”cliv This from the Soul. “Let me elaborate some more on this for you.” It was Rock again. “Please do,” I said. I was age 37 and I had an epiphany in my life. I got tired of, “Why these White people?” And, you know, being professional and knowing and being able to cope 139


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with ‘em and deal with ‘em, but knowing the back of my mind they still don’t accept me. You know what I’m coming from? “Yes,” I said. Thinking about the many times in my life I’ve uttered that same statement. So here’s what I learned and here’s the one thing that defned it all, and I tell every African American that are going through any issues. The easiest way to deal with White people is to understand where they come from. This is kind of a general statement, but if you’re dealing in generalities, this is how I look at it. White people only respect you for two reasons and two reasons only. One, if they’re making money of of you. Two, if they fear you. If you don’t have those two entities, I don’t think they will ever, ever give you the respect as a person that you deserve. That’s been my case. The reason why I get the respect that I do is who I am and they making money. Now, now that I’ve gotten past that point, they recognize me. You see? ‘Cause we’re like – we could be transparent to them. It’s amazing how many days of loneliness I felt in certain situations, but when they recognize you and then they kinda let their guard down and they let you in their world and they get to see you as an individual. They see you with your family. Then and only then (do) they begin to try to accept you as an individual. But on the outside looking in, it’s 140


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about whether they’re afraid of you or whether they making money of of you. And the fear doesn’t always have to be that you got something, they could take something from you. You could be that powerful of an individual that they’re intimidated by the good that you’re gonna bring. So that’s why there are a lot of times when I know what it is when someone White asks questions, they’re not asking because they’re interested in me. They’re asking ‘cause they’re trying to fgure something out about me, so I simply answer their questions with another question ‘cause if I’m gonna give you something, you gotta give me something back. So it took me a lot of years to realize that because I have a lot of friends, and they’re like, “Man, they hold us back and this.” I said, “Listen, if you guys want to get that monkey of your back and really develop who you are as a person, just understand that they’re not gonna see you unless they making money or they fear you. Once you can accept that about them, I think it’ll help you move on. Because it’s so much opportunity out there and our forefathers have done so much for us that I feel like I know that the game is not even. We already know that, but to me, knowing that the game is tilted and having a understanding about it up front is an advantage ‘cause it lets you know how much harder you need to work to get where you want to be. Instead of looking at it as being held back, look at it is as something that’s gonna be a catalyst, something that’s gonna fuel you. Embody that in your passion and 141


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become somebody great. I just take it and turn it around is basically what I’ve done. “Rock, you really have grown into a strong and insightful Black man. I feel as though this should be the end of our conversation for now, but I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you just one more question. Can you speak to me about the things that resonated with you, as far as your relationships with your mentors?” I asked. One, I would say the love that they have to be able to recognize someone and believe in that individual unconditionally, and it’s a two way street because you have to allow them, if they believe in you, to hold you accountable. ‘Cause if you don’t allow them to hold you accountable, you can’t – you just won’t grow. And I think that being a Black male raised without a father, when another Black male sees something in me, I naturally am attracted to that because as a man, you can’t be a man unless another man teaches you how to become one, a good man, a right man. Eventually you’ll get there, but you got to go through so much and you can make so many mistakes and not even know it. So for someone to take a interest in me, I’ve always yearned for that, so I look at it more from a fatherly perspective or a big brother perspective or a high amount of respect that, you know, if this person has taken a interest in me and sees something in me. And it’s funny, it’s always Black men. White men don’t do that. Not that easy. Not of the top and just recognize you for who you are.

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So I would say that number one trait in what the commonality is that they recognize, you know, this kid to be something or this kid needs something and to be able to pour that love into me unconditionally. That right there alone made me want to do better, and it made me not want to let you all down, and it made me realize that you can’t become better by yourself. You know, you could be as good as you want at anything, but if no one gives you a chance of believe in you, you’re never gonna be great. So that’s what it means to me. You know, and just – it’s fun ‘cause your mentors can look at what you’re about to do and tell you how it’s gonna go and you’re like, “How the hell they know that? He laughed. As he was doing so I noted that the commitment in these relationships has to be adhered to by mentor and protégé. Rock describes this as being held accountable on his end. He also talks about love, which speaks to both trust and commitment. Finally, he talks about respect and how that endears him to his mentors and it seems that the situation was mutual. And it’s fun, and I’ve always been the type of kid that have always liked the older crowd and just to sit there and listen to people that are older than me ‘cause it’s amazing how the diferences of how we think but everything remains the same. You know, things change, but the more they remain the same, the fundamentals. And it’s just a lot of fun and being around people that you know love and care about you in a positive way ‘cause if you don’t – you can be as strong as 143


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you want, but you’re a much stronger person when you know people are behind you and you have that support. That’s a beautiful thing. And if you just listen to ‘em, you don’t have to go that route. And then it feels good – it’s crazy. Again, he laughed.

Kareem “Assalamu 'alaykum” I greeted Kareem. “Hey, my man, how you doing?” he said. I thought I would greet him with the traditional Muslim greeting, but I think he reserved his response (wa alaikum assalam), perhaps due to the fact that I am not Muslim. “Can you share something about yourself, maybe your origins, for me?” I asked. It was much easier with Rock, we have a history even though he wasn’t physically present, I could sense who he was. With Kareem, I know he is close to six feet tall, and very athletic, and according to the Soul very introspective and wise. All right. My name is Kareem Trent, age 53. I'm originally from Newark, New Jersey, born and raised. I spent 20 years in the military. Let's see, what else? I have a wife and three kids, two grandkids. I work at the Defense Supply Center and I also teach a boxercise class and mentor young kids out in my religious church activities. We have some kids that I do some boxercise exercise with them. And just trying to mentor and just try to be a helpful person in the community. You know, because I know we need a lot of people to mentor these kids that's out here that's, you know, don't have no fathers. And they need some guidance. They need that male role model fgure. 144


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So I hope I can be a good example for that role model Figure out there for them. We had a full family, me, my brother, and my sister. I'm the middle one. I have an older sister and younger brother. My father and mother was around, but now it's just my father. My mother passed. I got a good home life. You know, wasn't raised on no silver spoon or anything like that, but we had a good home life. But in North New Jersey, I'm not saying we was on the rich side of town, but, you know, we was on the other side that, you know, it was a little rough in those times but it was fun. I had my grandmother that stayed a block and an uncle and cousin that stayed around there, so it was a nice family environment. I learned about boxing during -- coming up because it was a little rough and that had some couple of bullies that would try to take your money and things of that nature. So I just learned -- I wanted to learn because in Newark it was a motto; either you fght or take flight. So I was tired of taking flight so I just wanted to stand up for myself for a little bit. But other than that we had a good environment, you know. Well, my parents are Christian. I'm not a Christian. I'm a Muslim. So that was my concept of Christianity, you know, my mother, father, we all went to church, but maybe that wasn't just my calling. So I had a I had to go down for my own…You know sometimes they have a misconception about the word Muslim or Islam, so, you know, I hope to set an example that they are, you know, because there's always going to be some 145


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bad apples in the barrel. But nonetheless that mean the barrel is full of apples because you have a few of them. So I’m just here to set an example, try to do the best I can. I love talking to people I'm a God-fearing person, love family and love just doing stuf -- love doing things that make me feel good inside…Maybe I have a calling or maybe I have a certain knick or knack that gives me that little bit edge on myself. And I just try to, you know, use that gift, you know, because we all have a gift, a talent. Some of us don't know exactly where their talent is, but I try to use mine to the best of my ability. I reflected on his words and how he delivered them, with calmness and clarity. It’s obvious that Kareem is a highly devoted man of his religion. It strikes me that he is aware of the negative views of his religion by some in this country, but still he is unwavering. His attitude and demeanor is far removed from the current fad of having ‘swagger’. Then he broke in on my thoughts as if reading them. So if anybody know me, they know that I'm very peaceful, I'm calm, serene, they never see me get upset or argue or anything. I don't smoke or drink, you know, I ain’t going to say I'm the perfect person, you know, but I just keep trying to do the right thing. I transitioned. “You've had mentors since you have been an adult male. Tell me a little about your mentors.” Oh, yeah. I had -- the frst person was, like I said, my landlord. His name was Bob Sommers. He grow me into what I am today, you know just 146


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the foundation of that‌I was probably 16 -- 15, somewhere around there, 15 - 16. Yeah, so that happened way back in the early 70s. Yeah. And he was the frst one that, you know, took me under his wing and you showed me a lot of diferent things about cars or just life, you know. Because he had a little fruit stand. He buys some fruits out of the wholesale place and then he would come back and sell them. You know, I have a little stand on the street and he was selling so I would help them out with that. And help him paint houses. He used to paint houses and I'd help him paint houses. So he taught me a lot and I said my father didn't give me some guidance, but, you know my father was working so he was kind of like my other father who why, you know, I just gravitated to because he gave me a lot of things, you know, that maybe my father didn't know about or anything, because my parents are from Alabama. That's where their roots is from, Alabama. And they came up north for jobs. So, you know, he probably didn't know a lot of what's going on up north. He know about farming and things of that nature. But when it came to city stuf, you know, he just didn't understand all them. And so he just -- well he was a hard worker, you know. I respect my father, love my father and mother, but, you know, they just -- they were from the South and then when they came north, north was a little bit diferent for them. So Mr. Sommers, he gave me a lot on that aspect. You know, he was like my second father. And then, you know, just during the course of 147


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time, growing up I had other mentors. One brother named Medger Zane, he’s the one that taught me how to box, because we were down in the basement, so he kind of like took me through the ring a little bit, you know, bloodied the nose and knocked me down. But, you know, I still kept coming. You know, if I was going to make it or break it, it was going to be that time right then. You know, if I was going to say this is for me or not for me or this is what I still want to learn no matter if I've got a bloody nose or got knocked down, it still was going to be what I wanted to try and accomplish. I wasn't no quitter. So that was the main thing. I didn't quit on nobody. If I was in there, I was in it to win it. And once I put my mind to it, I'm going to go ahead and try to achieve it. Mr. Zane, he gave me a lot. When I go back to New Jersey sometimes and see my family, I don't see Mr. Sommers or Mr. Zane but I know they somewhere around. And then throughout the course of my growing up, let's see, who else? You know, beside, like I said, my father, you know, he showed me a lot about just being respectful to people. So, you know, I can't forget him…even though he didn't talk a lot, but you knew what he meant when they said back in the olden days, well I'm going to tell your father. So when they said I'm going to tell your father that meant you'd better straighten up, because your father was coming in to -- he was the justice. The mother was the jury and the father was the executioner. The presence of a strong Black man in his life was crucial to Kareem’s ability to navigate the streets to learn the ways of inner city Newark. I thought. 148


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“I would agree,” said the Soul. “Of course, you’re reading my thoughts again,” I said and continued, “Kareem had a great deal of respect for his mentors, for various reasons.” “How so?” the Soul said, rather rhetorically. “Well let me take from one of my favorite movies, the Wizard of Oz. You’ve seen it right? “Of course,” he said. “Well Mr. Sommers contribution was his ability to understand the ways of the streets, the inner city life, how to survive, how to maneuver, how to respect the streets. The Scarecrow. In the case of Mr. Zane, he instilled and sharpened Kareem’s ability to be a warrior, to fend for himself and to fght when the situation warranted; instead of taking flight. The Lion. And fnally, his dad was the disciplinarian, the one who had to dole out punishment when need be, all within the scope of his love. The Tin man.” “And Dorothy?” he asked with a chuckle. “I guess, when you reminisce about the past, and the memories of those whom impacted your life, it’s the story itself. There really is no place like home.” Getting back to Kareem, I asked, “Kareem, one last question, how do you defne mentoring?” I defne mentoring as guidance, as the older person teaching a younger person about what struggles and strife they came through and how you can achieve it, you know, in your daily day-to-day routine. Somebody to look over you and watch over you. Or sometime they say there’s always an angel or something watching over a person. So a mentor is almost like -- a person like an angel, your personal angel to watch over you to make sure you get yourself together in school and life. I mean anything 149


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like that, you know, don't try to go out there and try to do it on your own. You know, sometime we all need somebody to talk to. If we don't have nobody to talk to, well, they always say that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. So we out there in a “I got mine” mentality, the devil is defnitely going to play victim to you. He can give it to you easy, but if you have a mentor there to try to guide you and lead you in the right direction, you know, you can jump over some of the obstacles that's going to be in your way. You know, who says that we all gonna fall down, but it's the best person that's going to get back up and not waddle in the mud and cry foul or anything like that. But just get back up, dust yourself of and keep on going. That's what a mentor is for. They dust you of, keep you going. They keep your focus in the right direction. It’s not surprising that Kareem relates a mentor to that of an “Angel” which comes to rescue him and others from the “devil.” The Angel, ever present, guiding us through the trials and tribulations of life. Perhaps a mentor is a guardian Angel.

Adisa “Adisa is the youngest of the group,” said the Soul. “I think you will fnd him mature beyond his years.” “I would not be surprised. Each has had a very fascinating contribution to my knowledge not just about mentors, but about some of the assumptions I’ve carried over the years. Recall my reaction to Adisa’s revelation about Africans and Blacks. I’m still trying to regroup my thoughts on that one,” I said. “That bodes well, my name means ‘one who will teach us’ in Ashanti of Ghana,” spoke Adisa. 150


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“Adisa, please tell me more about you and your family history,” I asked. All right. My name is Adisa Ofu. I am currently 21 years old. I was born in August 1989, to a great family. Mother, father, have one full-fledged sister, one half sister i don't really know, and then one adopted sister. I'm originally from Ghana, so my adopted sister is actually with my grandma back in Ghana. Currently, (I’m) a marketing student from the School of Business at a local state university. I will be pursuing an MBA afterwards and an M.S. in Communication Strategy...And one thing I'll add. “Sure,” I said. I'm also the President and the founder of the Established Leader Society. The Established Leader Society was a group that we founded... the frst of its kind in the nation, where we basically try to pull the best potential leadership at the university regardless of major, where we can be of service to each other. But we also take it a step further by trying to connect this best potential leadership with more established leaderships so the best professors, investors, community leaders, business leaders. And we form projects and programs where we could link up with this more established leadership to form mutually benefcial opportunities. But we also do things where we can learn from them through interviews of them, their steps and 151


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strategies toward success. Amongst other things, we do a lot of community service projects as well. So it's allowed us to get very involved with the university community as well as the overall greater Richmond community. “Excellent. And how about any social issues within the community? Are you guys involved with that as well?� I asked. The more he speaks, the more I fnd him to be a fascinating young man; energetic, wellspoken, a natural leader. Yes. We partnered with a local non-proft, which if you're not familiar with that organization, they are like a -- they're incarcerated rehab -- rehab program, where they basically assist males or even -- well, they assist people that were once incarcerated on how to get back into the regular scheme of things once they get out. And we've done a number of things with them, including Long Walk for Freedom, which is a annual event they have. We had a full group of our members kind of go out there and walk with these incarcerated from the city jail all the way back down to campus. And then we've also thrown a banquet. And we've done stuf for ... nonproft organizations that assist the homeless by providing shelter and stuf like that. So we've done a number of things with the community and we plan to do so much more. When you bring it together, the best potential 152


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leadership, there's just so much that's possible. Not only is Adisa a teacher, he defnitely has tremendous leadership qualities, I thought. I wonder what his mentor is like and how they interact. “Let me tell you,� said Adisa. Within business, they always say a mentor is invaluable. It's just you can't put a price to it. It could be -- could be the thing that allows you to be the greatest that you possibly can be, because ultimately a mentor, in my point of view, would be someone that's kind of been there, done that. Maybe he's not done everything that you want to do, but can defnitely provide some type of insight into the type of things that you could do to kind of provide direction and give you, you know, yeah, a sense of direction on how to get to where you want to go. My mentor is Mr. Charles Rhodes. He's a very active, distinguished individual of the Richmond community. He went to my university. I actually got connected with him through the School of Business's Alumni Organization through being the president of the Established Leadership Society. We basically piloted a program where they're trying to create a large mentorship program for students. Yeah. So it's just kind of funny. It's basically trying to hook up alumni to students. Though we piloted this program, he happened to be my mentor. But even before then, we'd kind of connected with each other often. It just formalized the relationship. He's very involved. He's currently the vice 153


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president of a bank here in the Richmond area. And a little bit about him. I mean he's just an overall really great guy just trying to do as much as possible. Relatively young. I think he's -- think he's a little less than 30, if he hasn't already hit 30. Done so much. He really rose through the ranks quickly. Just kind of provided -- I look -- I look at all the stuf he's done. He's a very, very busy guy, but he still makes time for such things as mentorship. So he provides me kind of an insight on how to kind of balance or his lack of balance of a professional and a personal life. And I fnd that very valuable for someone such as myself that wants to go on to do really great things to kind of see, OK, these are some of the sacrifces I might have to make. Or maybe I could do a lot more now so that I could; you know, rest easy or, you know, have fun later. Or maybe, I could look at him, see what's he's done and see what I think I can improve on so that I could have the best of both worlds. So it's just been a really invaluable as a mentor should be. It's just kind of -- and he makes himself available to talk to me whenever or I could shoot him a text no matter what time of the night. He makes himself available for me despite everything else he's doing. “So what's the relationship between the two of you? I mean you've kind of described his -- some of his attributes and him as a person. What does he see in you?” I asked. I realized that the communication between these two young men must be at a high level. And again, the commitment, the last sentence “He makes himself available for me despite 154


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everything he’s doing,� is powerful. He has big dreams, and his mentor is surely showing him the path. I would suspect that he's showing him the path and the forest as well. I think one thing he says he sees in me is just someone that's -- he wished he could have been when he was in college. And he's described his college experience and that was very low. So he kind of sees, man, this is like a prodigy-type person, which is really flattering to me, because I look at him and I kind of see a someone that I wish -- I mean just the way he rose through the ranks so quickly. The relationship between us, I think, he kind of sees me as someone that I could defnitely assist this guy. If I assist this person, maybe I could reach so many diferent people through what this one person's going to do...and we had met a few times before, again, he actually from -- became a mentor, kind of is very social. I think he's proud to see a young guy, a African American man, that's, you know, even trying to do something of a sort. Because, unfortunately, it's become a lot better, but it, especially, in this -- in this college, it isn't too common to see too many of our type that are really trying to do big things in life. So I just see a magnifcent individual that's just owned a lot of work, yet still making time for things that's important to him and making time for the community even. And I'm just -- I'm in it to learn as much as possible so I could try to mirror some of those things. Because even though I want to do a lot great things in business, I want to make sure 155


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that I'm very involved in the community, whatever community I am in. And maybe even, I mean, I really want to become a big philanthropist in the future. So I mean, just kind of seeing how he's doing it, kind of gives me a framework -- frame to work within when I attempt it. Adisa is a driven young man. For him making it in the business world is his beacon, his light at the end of the tunnel. His drive, energy and initiative will help him achieve his many goals. His mentor is more than that, he's his role model in the truest since of the term. Adisa sees himself as a 30-something president or VP rocketing to the top of the corporate ladder of success, and it’s interesting how his mentor is exactly that. How is it that these men became attracted to one another? Is it a self-fulflling prophecy as they say, or is it something more, something almost biological? I have to fnd out more about this young African – American; something more personal. “I’m sure Adisa will share with you his story about being hospitalized, a critical event, one that changed his life and his path.” This came from the Soul. “What do you mean by ‘critical event’?” I asked. “It’s what they called in the military a signifcant emotional event, an SEE, a nice acronym which basically means your view of the world may have been changed by some event in your life.” “According to Webster and Mertova a critical event as told in a story reveals a change of understanding or worldview by the storyteller...It is almost always a change experience, and it can only ever be identifed afterwards.clv Remember Rock’s story about the racist encounter with Terry Taylor? That was a critical event in his life.” “It’s weird. My story really is stereotypical. That’s how I got to where I got,” said Adisa. 156


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“What do you mean? How do you defne stereotype and how did it impact your situation?” I asked. Well, a stereotype is, you know, usually what -- when, you know, before you even meet a person, you look at them and you make lots of conclusions based on kind of their -- you know, their features, kind of what they're dressed like, what color they are, what ethnicity they are, et cetera, et cetera. So what I'm talking about here is kind of -- I guess we're talking about the stereotype of the African American male, especially within this college. There's this, you know, Black frat guy. Nothing wrong with them. A baller - guy who's a player with the ball. And, I mean, unfortunately, those are the stereotypes I could think of. And I think that's why I've been allowed to stick out fairly easy here within my university, just because there are a couple of us. There are a couple of us, but there's not nearly enough, especially when you look at the masses. And there's, I mean, aside there's a lot of people that I was really, really cool with. And in fact, I'm not going to lie. I played one of those stereotypes my freshman year. Typically tried to play the player role. And had a lot of fun doing it, but then, just -- that just wasn't for me. So much more I could do with my talent. And I actually -- I actually, my freshman year, I actually got into an incident where – I went to the hospital for alcohol poisoning. And that's when I really was sick enough to have enough time to lay in bed and say, I don't know why I wanted that type of stuf. 157


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I don't know why -- why I thought, you know, trying to get the most girls, trying to wear the best clothes was important to me. But I guess it's because I played into the stereotype. I mean you see so much on TV. You think it's the glamor, the cool, you know, and you kind of want some of that stuf, you know. “The swag,� I said, borrowing from the conversation with Kareem. So I experienced it and I'm kind of happy I did experience it, because I could say I did it. But I know that's not for me. And now the stuf I'm doing, it just shows a transformation. It just shows that anybody's capable of doing it. And so I mean it saddens me because so many people that I work who -- who I went to school with started doing many of the same things. I could look at them and say, man, there's no point of you being here to be honest. If you're going to -- If you're going to be spending money... to get your education, you're not really educating yourself; you're kind of limiting yourself. And you're playing into what they want you to play into. Because I know that some of these people, not all of them, but a lot of them have a lot of potential. And if they just pushed themselves a little harder... So I was like, man, I can do both. I can have a lot of fun and I can still do good at school. So it was just working for me. It was kind of I'm having fun. I'm doing good. All right...I wanted people to look at me and say, man, that's that guy. OK. You know, he's the man type thing.

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And looking back at it now, it was kind of foolish that I thought those were the things that I would, you know, have people looking at me like that's the man, you know. Because -- and I -- I guess I should take credit for -- I should take all responsibility for anything -- any action I do. But I got to say that's it's a lot of what I saw on TV. It's a lot of what's in the music that we listen to, because these are things that were constantly taken in. It's the things that you watch and the things that you listen to that become a part of you. So you have to choose those things wisely. So, you know, I'm watching BET. I'm watching movies like Super Bad and getting the image of what college is supposed to be before I actually experienced myself...I could see that this is going to be like I was having one of those type of college experiences. I just came in and wanted it all and I got a lot of it. And then it resulted in intoxication. And then, you know, my university actually requires your parent to come pick you up, no matter where they are, if you actually get alcohol intoxicated, especially during freshman year. So it was so bad that I was just laying in the hospital. I woke up and saw a mysterious fgure. I didn't even notice that was my dad. And so 30 seconds later, when I'm kind of functioning -- brain kind of woke up, I guess. But, you know, I mean my parents were luckily -- I mean at this point I'm sure, because my freshman year, man, we sent you here for this, not this. This point for sure, but they were really 159


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supportive, actually. They didn't -- they didn't come nearly as hard as I thought they would on me. Said, OK, you made a mistake. Get your act together. Really, really good for me at that point in time... I mean as I'm laying in bed, I'm like, that's not that cool. I got really sick and I spent a lot of money. Well, we're spending a lot of money and time trying to fnd who's going to buy his liquor, where we're going to go party at. We partied all night and then -- all night and then sleep all day. Wake up to go to a party the next night. I'm like, now you know, we're wasting a lot of time in this. This is not that cool. I was like why do I want to be a big man on campus? And then I had a lot of, you know, we're freshman. I had a lot of people talking about the incident; some girls with snickers. You know, comments when I'm walking by; stuf about it. Like, man, I'd rather be a big man in a diferent way. So then I kind of thought about what could I do to kind of -- because I just had an energy to me. I just can't sit idle. So I would just say, what could I do? How could I channel this energy. And one thing people have always said about me is regardless of how I used it, I was a leader. “Life’s lessons. We never really know how they are going to manifest themselves, but somehow we manage to learn from them. At least most of us,” I commented. “Yes, that is true,” said Adisa. “Can you tell me attributes of your mentor that you most admired?” He is disciplined, hard working, smart, beyond smart. 160


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Just caring and giving. Those are some of the qualities that I've gotten of him almost instantly. Willing to -- willingness to help where he can at almost anytime he can. Even if that means, should I watch this football game or should I give my time to the community type thing. And he would be the type making the time for the community even though he might want to do that. And I think that shows even more self-discipline. Knowing a little bit more of what you know is right instead of just kind of taking -- taking the time for yourself if possible. Those would be qualities I would give him. It’s interesting that Adisa’s mentor, Charles, most admired qualities are self-discipline and caring. I recall from Adisa’s near-death experience with alcohol poisoning, that the one thing he lacked at the time was selfdiscipline. He fell into the trap that many young Black males – or in his case African-American posing as Black – fall into, the illusory hip-hop culture; the draw of being a player, living the champagne life. Fortunately, Adisa made a commitment to himself to follow a less destructive path, and just as fortunate, he and Charles connected. His story also got me to thinking about the fences and how easy it could have been for him to become ensnared by the criminal justice system as he was fnding out where he ft in this world. It also seems that he struggled with his self-identity, his own duality – to be Black or to be African-American – and his perception of what it means to be Black. He wanted to live the stereotypical Black life, almost to his undoing. Now apparently comfortable with his identity, he has come back from a near death experience to fnd a role model, a Black man, who shares his values and who communicates a diferent message about what it means to be 161


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Black.

Daniel Dan is a large Black man from the south. He teaches in the secondary school system in central Virginia. He wears a short haircut, a light fade. As with the other Brothas, he is brown skinned, not too dark, not too light, just brown. This I remember from my talks with the Soul. “Dan, if you are around, can you please share with me some of your history and perhaps tell me a little about your immediate family? I asked, looking at these same four hotel walls. I wonder if the people next door think I’m having a lot of company. Can they hear these voices or are they just in my head?” “I'm originally from Aiken, South Carolina. I grew up in a two-parent household.” It was Dan. Both my parents were school teachers, were educators. My father graduated from South Carolina State College at the time in Orangeburg, South Carolina, 1963. My mother graduated from Collier Blocker Junior College in Daytona Beach, Florida and then matriculated onto Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach. I went to South Carolina State University, graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Served in the military, joined the South Carolina National Guard in 1986, went through basic and everything, went -- wanted to try and parlay that experience into an ROTC commission. Went through the ROTC training program. Unfortunately, I was not accepted but the training was good. I benefted from it, you know. Of course, I didn't get a commission, but at the same time, 162


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the training, the beneft of it has served me very well. “Tell me a little bit about life in your household. I mean number of brothers and sisters and what could you -- I mean they were educators and obviously at some point that was an influence on you.” I said, still trying to get the hang of asking such personal questions. My father was -- my father grew up in Scarborough, South Carolina. My mother grew up in Pulaka, Florida. My household was a household that was, my father was a disciplinarian. He was very, I would say, you know, in today's terms some people would consider abrasive. But, you know, looking back on it, my dad was who he was. You know, I think in a lot of ways because he did not have his father in his life, it made -- he had to kind of go about in fguring things out. And so, you know, he wasn't a type of father that was doing a lot of hugging up on his kids, you know, I mean he -- of course when my sister, Camille, came on the scene,…that kind of mellowed him out a little bit.But I think for the most part when we had – when he had his two boys and then has had his girls, he was pretty much complete. You know, our household, you know, it wasn't -- we didn't have many luxuries, you know. You know, school teachers did not make and still don't make a lot of money. And so it wasn't a situation of a lot of materialistic things. My parents provided what they could in that there was a time when my father after graduating from college, he went to the classroom. And then he took a job with a major textile manufacturer…in the state of South Carolina up in Greenville. And he was a line supervisor at a plant not too far from Aiken, a little town 163


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called Johnston, South Carolina up in Edgeville County. And he was a supervisor. He worked there for about -- I want to say about three years, three or four years. He used to tell me how, you know, he used to go and have to go get his workers out the bed. Go get people -- and so having seen that and having spent it in, you know, having my father, you know again, show the example of, you know, sometimes you gotta do something -- to do things that you don't want to do. But you gotta do what you gotta do in order to, you know, put bread on the table. You know, and so that served as an example both to myself and my younger brother.My younger brother is 30 – he's two years younger, he's 39. You know, so it helped shape my direction, you know, I feel I have a very strong work ethic…I mean you have to do in this day and age where jobs are short, you really can't aford to be lazy. “Most certainly,” I agreed. As I had surmised from his earlier interludes, Dan comes from a rooted Black family with a strong father fgure at its center. You know, you just really can't aford to, you know. It's, you know, because what you won't do, someone else will do and gladly do it. So it defnitely shaped my -- seeing my father go to work, seeing my father be in management helped me I think, you know, always and but forever (he will) be a role model because, you know, even after I fnished college, he died -- my father died in the hospital. It just really -- really, it shaped me, you know. I went sessions with him and telling me, you know -- because I 164


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was -- I wasn't a brain head, but I was a reasonable kid. You know, at home and telling him about the conversation I had in my civilizations class. This was a classroom that had, you know, we had a lot of high achieving kids. You know, going to Clemson and University of South Carolina, College of Charleston, Citadel, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. And I know that I was probably the only Black kid in my class that was going to consciously go into a historical black college or university. You know, it was like either housework. It was washing dishes, vacuuming the house, getting outside raking leaves. You know, it was always we had something to do and it wasn't like what kids do today. It's like, you know, you get in the bed and get and get out -- you might get out of bed at 12 o'clock -- what are you crazy? No. You got your butt up out of bed -- if you ate dinner -- after you ate breakfast, all right, it's time to go to work. You know, I need you all outside doing whatever, whatever, whatever. “Sure,” I said. All the while thinking about the strong work ethic being instilled into this man. It’s easy to see how his father was a role model for him, though I’m not certain a father-son relationship will automatically morph into one that is mentor – protégé. The requirements and needs may be diferent. Fathers, particularly those who grew up ‘back in the day’ did not always practice a reciprocal exchange. In other words, it was ‘my way or the highway’. A one-way communication, as we’ve defned relative to mentoring, would not make for a strong mentor-protégé relationship. Dan continued,

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Some chores, you know. My parents, you know, they didn't know -- I never received an allowance, you know. Your allowance is I let you live in my house, you know. I let you lay in my bed, you know. You haven't even -- you know, you have a place at the table when the plates hit the table. You know. And so really what kids in this day and age would consider so atrocious and so I can't believe this. Oh, well, gee, I can't help -- you know, they couldn't cut it in my camp. They would not cut it, you know. And as discipline was very frm, I realize now as a young man, that some of the things I couldn't understand, I now understand. It built something in me. A great deal of the strength that, you know, he instilled in me andit's -- it's helped me. It's paid of. I know my brother and sister, they appreciated it. They appreciated it and it's benefted us all. Daniel's family, particularly his father, provided, guidance, strength, values, and a vision for life. Discipline, now somewhat frowned upon by today’s society, was a critical part of his upbringing. Perhaps that’s why he was so intent on becoming a military officer, the teamwork, camaraderie, the discipline – a family. “Earlier, you shared with me your defnition of a mentor. Can you tell me what are some of the characteristics you found in your mentors that resonated with you?” I asked. I think the two characteristics that both Reverend Dr. Paul and Dr. Raymond is that they both are -- they're willing to sit you down and willing to tell you -- they're also willing to point out some of the shortfalls in what you're doing. But they're not there to sell you. They're not there to crush you, but rather, they feel they make you aware of, OK, you

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need (to see) this pitfall, you need to be aware, so that's a warning sign. And because of their willingness to share where the potholes in the road are, that they've had to encounter and that they're -- and that they've not only they've had to encounter but they've overcome and they're willing to go back and say, now, young man, I see your goal is to try and get here. And I've been down that same road, but guess what, I'm willing to show you if you're willing listen, but this is what you need to do based on some of the things I went through.So that's the one thing that I appreciated the most with is him -- is for both of them, willing to sit down and share with me some of the things that a young minister, that a young educator who aspires to go into administration needs to be aware of. “If you could sum that up in one word, what would that be?” I asked. “I see being candid, being just a very, very clear direction, in some ways transparent.” “I thought the defnition of mentoring that you provided earlier was right on point. I’d like to know how you would defne success?” I asked. Well, success can be defned in a number of diferent ways. If I look at it from a fnancial standpoint, that would be considered having enough money to pay one’s bills, have enough money to get the things one wants, having enough money to invest in the manner that one wants to invest, that would be considered success. If I look at success from the standpoint of social, social contacts, knowing the right people, going to the right places, having the right contacts, people who know you by your frst name, recognize you, 167


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acknowledge you, they – what’s the word I want to use? – they verify you, if that makes any sense. That’s one way of considering success. Of course, career, you know, promotion wise, meeting specifc targeted goals, you know, being able to write one’s ticket, you know, being able to do what one wants to do, when they want to do it, how they want to do it. So it’s a number of diferent ways by which success can be measured...I look at it from the standpoint of it being somewhat of conglomeration of all three that I made mention of and with all three having somewhat as best of an equal balance as I can make it. Because I believe you don’t want to have too much of either one in one particular place. You know, that’s subject for argument, but, I think when there’s a good balance of all three, it keeps one’s perspective level minded and, to me, it just makes better sense. Things work out better. You don’t take yourself too seriously. “So do you consider yourself successful based on what you just said?” I asked. I think I consider myself successful. I consider myself, coming to the point to where I’m approaching or putting myself or being put or considered in a place of success, because often at times, when it comes down to success, sometimes, you know, there’s a saying and it has some truth to it. It’s not necessarily what

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you know, it’s who you know. So if you are, you know, generally in a position to where, you know, people – you know, there’s a saying Biblically, that…in order for one to receive favor, you must be in a position to be seen. With that being said, I think some of the things that I’ve been able to see and to do have been because of that favor. I’ve been in a position to where I can – I’ve been seen not doing anything in particular, just doing my job, just doing what I’m supposed to be doing, you know. Trying to do it better, trying to do it more, if this makes any sense, more efficiently than anybody else and trying to put a signature, sign of some sort on what I do. I want people to know, that, number one, Barnes is going to be the type of person that above all else I want to have integrity. I want to be able to be trusted. And integrity and trust kind of go hand in hand. I want to also be the type of person, and I feel I am the type of person, that I’m going to be a hard worker. I’m going to be a dedicated person. I’m defnitely committed, you know, and commitment is something that oftentimes, in this day and age, is often spoken about but is not often carried out, you know. So I think those desires that I just made mention of alone, will cause me to be set apart, to where, you know, the Bible says that a man’s gift will make room for him. And I believe that, because, you know, I believe that there’s a time for all things.

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So there’s a time for me to gain, there’s a time for me to lose, there’s a time for me to come up and be at a level where all my personal goals, as well as some of my personal goals, have been achieved and there’s some things I may not have been able nor will I be able to achieve. Do I defne that as me being unsuccessful? No, I don’t. Because at the end of the day, it’s whether or not I can look myself in the mirror and be satisfed with what I see. Do I feel confdent knowing that I’ve done my best? I have a saying in education. I do the best I can, for who I can, for as long as I can. Now, for those of us in education, what that simply means is that I do the best I can for the students I teach, for as long as I’m able to do it in a manner that sets me apart. And when I say do it in a manner that sets me apart, that, again, going back to what I said earlier, that signature, that something that says, yeah, we know this Barnes because. We know that he’s able to give us what we’re looking for, because he’s done these things before in the past. Daniel’s defnition of success suggests that he puts great value on his name. Who he is in the world and how people perceive him is extremely important. His faith also plays a role in how he presents himself to the world. His mentors, one a pastor, the other an academic, indicate that his primary values in the world are religion and education. Yet Dan is a mystery to me. He’s never had a racial incident, at least overtly; occur to him in his lifetime. He’s not had that critical event, whether it was direct 170


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or indirect that has put him beyond the pre-encounter stage of psychological Nigrescence.

Pierre “Soul, I think you’re dissing me because I’m Haitian!” Pierre shouted, this followed by a deep genuine laugh. Coolly, the Soul retorted, “No my brother, I’m just saving the best for last that’s all,” he chuckled as well. I said, “Let’s hear some of your story.” “Well, frst of, I’m gonna start with a little bit of history ‘bout my mentor, my relationship with my father.” “Sure,” I said. Why I believe I needed a mentor, because – well, why my parents – my mother believed she – that I needed a mentor. My father left – maybe I might’ve been about ten years old. I was very close to him. And he – when he decided to leave, you know, we didn’t have a choice. We didn’t even know he was leaving. We just fgured he would disappear for a couple days, and come back. My mother took it out on us, the boys. And of course, we did not start rebelling because she’s not being fair towards us. And being fair was very important, you know. Even to a kid, considered to be bad, he wants to be treated fair – most of the time, that’s why a kid becomes misunderstood, becomes rebellious, because if you’re not gonna be fair, why do I even pay you any attention? So I was gettin’ real bad. My frst mentor… was my teacher at school, Miss Reynolds. Miss Reynolds, how she mentored me was basically – she would just compliment 171


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me, compliment me on little things, like she taught me to open door, and hold it for a lady. And then, when I saw her, I was ready to go open the door f or her. And she complimented me on that, made me feel good. And then I would do it for other people. And they also complimented me. It’s like, wow. This is positive reinforcement, for such a simple thing as opening up a door, you know. Miss Reynolds always encouraged me. She said, you know, “You’ll be OK as a English major.” Me? English major? She said, “No, you’re really good at this,” and I said, “OK, cool.” And she just encouraged me. So if that’s mentoring, if mentoring is just encouragement, then that’s very important in a child’s life because to deal with a person daily, as in family members, and stuf, one can grow to be annoying. Or people who are not fair will treat that person, you know, any way they wanna treat them. But when you have an outside body give you respect, and also give you a discipline, and also builds your character through positive reinforcement, that really helps. ‘Cause as I look back, I – you know, at home, when a parent is raising a child, a boy who is like how I was – I was very stubborn. OK? And especially – it’s fve of us, and if she – if my mother wasn’t being fair, as far as I was concerned, I don’t listen to her. So now every time we have a conversation, she’s disciplining me. So there’s no positive reinforcement there. And so, it’s a – it’s always a tug of war. It’s always a fght, so when – it’s not that you want the fght, but if you’re not gonna treat me fair, I’m not gonna listen to you. You know?

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So you know, love was always there, it’s known, but didn’t last long enough. And really, all you’re tryin’ to do is prove yourself, that you’re worthy of being treated fairly, so when you have somebody who takes their time, and points you toward the direction of – man, you know, you’re doing a good thing. You know, just somebody to encourage you – just that goes a long way. It goes a long way, so my frst mentor that I can remember had to be Sister – had to be Miss Reynolds, at my Catholic school, St. Jerome’s. Miss Reynolds was my eighth grade – seventh grade English teacher. Another mentor – well, my mother started seeing me, and realized that I missed my father, which is the reason I was being the way I was being, she assigned my cousin, Jacques, to me and my brothers. “And how old was Jacques?” I asked. Jacques – he’s a older man now – Jacques, back then, I would say, maybe he was 35. And he would take us to play soccer, really wouldn’t teach us too much. Yeah, matter of fact, he did ‘cause he taught me how to play chess. And to this day, I still teach other kids chess. He taught me how to play soccer, taught me about activity, and exercise. Didn’t appreciate it – nah, can’t say “appreciate” – understand it. I appreciated it, but didn’t understand it. Taught me push ups, sit ups, and jumping jacks. And you know, come – as I look at my life now, those kinda things I do myself with other people, ‘cause those are the things (that) go real far. Taught me to play chess, and I’m playing chess, pretty much, since I was 12. And I’m guessing these ages, ‘cause you know, time is such a blur. 173


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In that time period. And he was really very influential – you know, took the time out just to say little things, can’t remember exactly what he said, but he took the time out. You know? And there was simpler things, spoke to me whenever I was in trouble with my mother, and you know, just took the time out to give me a male, respectable, discipline – respectful discipline, not just a beat down. You know? My mother, she got tired of talking, so it was just – it was on. But he took the time out to speak, and even though it didn’t last what he said, but it was said. You see what I mean? Then, my cousin – well, my next door neighbor, Darrel White, I used to sit out – look out the window, and Darrel was my best friend, Malik’s, older brother. Darrel went to college. Darrel always dressed up real nice, played chess, dressed up real nice. I would watch the way he treated his girlfriend, and his shoes, and his clothing. And I just knew this – that’s what I’m gonna do. When I get older – well, when I get dressed up, it’s gonna be nice. You know? And I wanted that type of office-type job. He was very successful, even now. When he came home from college, ‘cause before college, he was terrible. Went of to college, came back this new man, responsible, and it was like, “Wow! I wanna look, be as successful, and have a girlfriend as beautiful as this guy.” You know? So that was very important. My other cousin, Wayne – Wayne Defno, he was – he’s a school teacher, mentor to many. He would call me “young man.” And if you catch me, I call all these young guys here – Young man.” It bring me to tears. Yeah.

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“Take your time,” I said. Mindful and respectful of his emotions as he reflected on someone who obviously made a signifcant impact on his life as a young man growing into adulthood. It would be easy to see why mentoring is so important to someone who has lacked a father in their lives, a role model. Though in Pierre’s situation it seems that at an early age he chose to replace his missing father with friends, neighbors, relatives and, as he got older, mentors. His was truly a village. …Yeah, I’m good. Yeah, so Wayne, he was like the head of the family. “And how old were you at that time?” I asked. “Who? Wayne? This is – maybe ‘bout – this is all around my 9, 11, and 12, 13 – around that time. Wayne’d always bring the snacks over. OK, where was I? Oh, yeah...” He took us to the frst – to our frst movie. My mother was very plain and, you know, she has fve kids, so she didn’t care for movies. We hardly went out to eat, which was fne. We didn’t have a problem with it. We didn’t know about it. You know? So it was fne. You know? And but, Wayne took us to our frst movie, “Spies Like Us.” And whatever year that was, I can tell you from there, ‘cause that’d just come out, then I’d know my age. “I’m not familiar with that,” I said. I could feel the emotions in this man as he reflected on a past that was fulflling yet empty. Without a strong Black father at the center of his family, even with a village of men and women helping him along, he was still left with a scar. That moment when his father left the family, whatever the circumstance, was a critical event in Pierre’s life and the impact is manifesting itself today. “And I’ll never forget that movie, but 'young man' he would call me, 175


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and said, “Wow!” So I don’t know why I’m emotional, but –" “Hey, that’s…” I began to tell him it’s OK to get emotional, but decided to be quiet and listen, and let the moment play out. And he would use – treat you properly – you know? “Right – like a young man.” “Uh huh.” “Made you feel – like you were special? Made you feel like you were proud? Made you feel like were – I don’t want to put words in your mouth, man,” I said, mindful not to intrude too far into his story. “It felt good. You know? That’s simple.” I nodded in concurrence. “It was nothing big. He just treated you respectful.” “And that was it.” Again I nodded. So from then I realized, “Man, young men really wanna be felt or looked at respectfully.” He taught me also responsibility, ‘cause respect comes from an action. It’s a reaction. So he used to say things like – he’s still alive, Wayne. I don’t speak to him as often. I need to – I spoke – I thought about him today, when I called somebody else “young man.” That’s where I got this from. So he would say, “No hanky panky.” Pierre laughed. I was like, “Oh boy.” First, I didn’t understand. But he would say, “No hanky panky.” And I’m like, “Oh wow.” And then he started breaking it down. He started breaking it down, “No hanky panky.” But I think for him, for me, he was the biggest mentor that I’ve – that I had. Not for specifc reasons, other than I watched him, 176


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tend to his wife, tend to his children. He was in the house with his family. Now Marcus’s father, Sprats – Sprats – lives right next door to me. I used to watch him. You know, he used to come over to the house and fx things – lights and stuf, and I used to watch him, ‘cause my father and I, before he left, he would do all sorts of things – build bird cages, and he would – he had a fsh tank, and I would help him with the fsh tank. But when he left, it’s like, you know, I remember, he put the bath – I always wanted to be there to learn. “Did you have mentors as an adult, who may have influenced you?” I asked. Devier was another guy. Devier was the fancy car guy. He was in corrections, and he owned a barber shop, and I came from – another guy named Donald, owned a barber shop. Now, Donald – I just love his style, his swagger. You know, I didn’t know – there was no swagger back then. But this is in ’95. ..and Devier, I met him in ’95. Donald had such a swagger to him – shop was gorgeous. And I would be drivin’ – goin’ to school, “Man, one day, I’ll be able to work in that shop.” But I found out that anybody could work in the shop – it just looked good. But they just didn’t care who worked in it. I went to work for them, and I watched Donald. And he was a bad influence. Donald, after I found out, I was so disappointed. And he was such a good-lookin’ man – built, the ladies loved him. He had this voice, and he was – like the swagger is what I appreciated about him, but then I found out he was on drugs. 177


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“Were there any instances where they helped you with life situations?” I asked. “Yes. (Devier) he pulled me aside. He said to me, 'What are you doin’? Don’t you realize what you’re doin’? I was selling bootleg cell phones.” “So, you were the middle man, the go between?” Now, I wasn’t selling them. I didn’t make ‘em. I didn’t know anything about them. But if you needed something, I’m gonna be the one to help you to get it. You know? I guess I was looking to be – I guess it’s back to that respect thing. You know, needed, or considered – you see what I mean? Or influence. You want to be an influence. So somebody needed something, you know, “I know a guy that does this, does,” there really was no money in it. It really wasn’t worth it, ‘cause I made more money cuttin’ hair. This took away from cuttin’ hair. Made more money workin’ at the drug store. This took away from the drug store, ‘cause now I have to answer the phone, fnd out your phone is bad, then I gotta go look for the dude that does the phones, and I can’t fnd him. And it’s like – so Devier – I remember goin’ to the car. The guy calls me – Junior calls me. “Yo, I’m outside.” Sonny’s drivin’ a nice Camry, and I said, “OK, I’m comin’.” He’s just around the corner on Franklin Avenue. No, on Caroll, up on Caroll. I go up to the car, bag full of phones, plastic bag full of phones. Behind Sonny’s car is a cop car, two cops. I’m bringing him the bag, bunch of guys at the corner. Devier watches. Devier comes back, and say, “Yo, bro, do

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you – did you just realize what happened just now? Did you see what just happened? I said, “What are you talkin’ about?” I was just like, “Duh.” I mean, literally, flew right over my head. Ignorant, stupid, whatever you wanna call it. He said, “Did you see those cops behind you? Did you see the DTs (detectives) over there? And the cops over here?" he said, "You just – do you make any money with these phones? What are you doin’? What’s the point?” OK. Never did it again. Then I got into cable boxes. I didn’t flip ‘em but that was about money. I get a cable box for $25, I can sell it for $300. That’s good. It’s great money, until I was sellin’ right in the shops. Right in my shop – I mean, it was no big deal. It’s like, whatever. You need a cable box? I got you, no problem. Didn’t think about it twice. There was no thought about it. I think it was Devier or Paul, one of my barber friends, "Thief, what are you doin’? Do you even – are you even thinkin’?" So here I am, a respectable business owner – fnally, I own a barber shop. Reflecting on what Pierre just shared with me has helped me see into his heart, his soul. Given what he has told me in this brief entrée into his life, it seems apparent that fairness and respect are at the forefront of relationships for him. In fact, he mentioned that during our discussion of Black and ethnicity earlier on, “If this person got the opportunity to know me, he would respect me. Their respect is probably to me the most important thing.” In the defnition that the Soul developed, respect is a key part of mentoring. Pierre has spent the better part of his adult life as a barber. His 179


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mentors and role models were barbers, people he emulated and respected. Based on what he’s shared, he always saw himself as a barber, owning his own shop. That was his dream, along the way, Devier, Donald, and others helped his dream become his reality. Interestingly, Pierre has chosen a career where Black men can go to be Black, to be a businessman, a ball player, a student, a pastor, a teacher, a salesman…a man! “Hey,” it was the Soul again, “before you leave Pierre’s story, let me share this, by Leswin Laubscher from his study on African American men that he conducted visiting barber shops around the country:” On completion of the haircut, the chair is swiveled so that the end product is viewed in the mirror. As process, there is a statement here as to the primacy of interaction above the instrumentality of the haircut itself. In addition, however, in this particular case, the mirror the customer is swiveled to is framed by pictures of African American sportsmen and entertainers like Mike Tyson, Michael Jordan, George Benson, Nas, and so forth. Literally, as one looks at oneself in the mirror – seeing how good a Black man one has been made to be – other Black men frame the ideal in a halo that is both burden and liberation. clvi “Wow!” I exclaimed. I could no longer hold in my excitement. These conversations were an eye-opener for me. It truly gave me a look into the hearts and minds of Black men, as I’ve never seen before. “Excited, are you?” asked the Soul. “Well, yeah. The information they shared has validated some of the things we’ve been talking about during the last two days. I’ve heard frst hand how and why trust, respect, communication, and commitment are 180


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key ingredients for a strong mentoring relationship. It’s even more important because it came from the experiences of the protégés, so there were no self-serving issues going on. It’s also clear that role models are important and that a role model has to have depth, to stand for something. I’ve also been able to determine, based upon what we discussed yesterday, how understanding BID gives me added insight into who they are and how they view the world at least from the viewpoint of stages of Nigrescence.” “That’s a lot of information.” “Yes, and there is more. But I really need to get back to them. This is fun and enlightening at the same time. Thanks for coming, I gotta roll out.” I said excitedly. “Cool. Enjoy the ride with the Brothas.” At that, he was gone.

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CHAPTER 5 NOW I CAN DREAM Hold fast to dreams For if dreams die Life is a broken-winged bird That cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams For when dreams go Life is a barren feld Frozen with snow.clvii

Long into the evening I talked to these fve men. Questions about life, about mentors, about family and friends, hardships and disappointments all came out in one form or another. Exhausting as it may have been, I was transformed because it was really the frst time I’d ever explored the concerns, attitudes, behavior, and life history of a Black man. I learned something. “Yes. I think you did learn something,” said the Soul. “But what did you learn?” “It’s interesting, they all have diferent stories of course, but I see certain similarities in their experiences, at least as it appears to me,” I answered, and added, “and some of my views were kind of altered, kind of changed. Understand?” “How so?” said the Soul in an inquisitive tone. “Well, I’ve already talked somewhat about my thoughts on the 182


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diaspora and how that was changed based on the stories and feedback from Adisa, Pierre and Rock.” “Of course,” he said. “So now, I’ll share with you that I always thought dreams had to begin in childhood. I assumed that we picked up dreams as kids playing and picturing ourselves as comic book heroes, movie stars, frst responders, healers, etc.” “And?” asked the Soul. “And I’ve learned that as a result of many of the stories I’ve heard, dreams may come at any time. They are ever present.” “Interesting. That may be obvious to some and not so obvious to others,” he said. “Let me expand. Charles Drebing and Winston Gooden’s defnition of a dream, ‘is an efectively charged cognitive image of the central life goals of an individual. This image exists over and above ordinary goals, and carries with it personal issues of identity as well as existential issues of purpose and meaning.’”clviii The Soul continued. “The understanding of dreams is important in the mentor-protégé relationship. In a sense, it's the foundation. It provides the basis for the goals of the relationship, e.g., promotion to a higher level in the organization or graduation from college. According to Gooden ‘the mentor relationship is important developmentally because of its connection to the Dream. In Levinson’s formulation, the ideal mentor relationship involves a mentor who is about a half generation older than the mentee’.clix Furthermore, Gooden states,” the developmental power of the relationship is based on the mentor’s belief in the mentee’s Dream. By believing in the mentee’s Dream the mentor helps the mentee to believe that the Dream 183


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can be accomplished. The mentor is a transitional fgure who helps the mentee create a space in which to try out in the imagination and in reality a future self to be realized. clx “That’s what I’ve noticed after talking to these gentlemen,” I said. “Their dreams are coincidental to their mentoring relationships. What I don’t understand and what is fascinating to me is the question of what came frst? In informal mentoring relationships, does the protégé actively seek a mentor that has the same or similar attributes as his dream? Or, is the mentor attracted to the protégé by observing his attitude and behavior? I won’t try to answer those questions today, but perhaps some other time, or maybe someone else has or will.” “Don’t you think that’s a little premature? The data is right in front of you,” said the Soul, a little flabbergasted. “Meaning?” I said, a little defensive. “Meaning, try to understand what you’ve seen and heard.” “Here’s the deal, just based on the introductions from the fve Brothas, I could surmise that the protégé has sought out the mentor, and the mentor was willing to form that one-on-one relationship on each occasion. Adisa said he was ‘looking’ for a mentor; Kareem sought the advice of someone who was familiar with the streets; Pierre used to drive by the barber shops thinking, ‘I’m going to work there sometime.’ Daniel, was looking for a mentor in his spiritual and professional life, and Rock told you he was looking for someone who looked like him and had the same cultural background among other characteristics.” As my mind wandered back over what I had heard, it was clear to me that the Soul was accurate in his assessment. Clearly, the protégé, at least in these conversations and stories, sought out their mentors and each were fortunate enough to fnd men they considered role models to take the next step and devote time to mentoring. 184


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“What else did you learn?” asked the Soul. “Oh yeah. Well, I found there to be certain patterns or themes that emerged from my discussions with the Brothas. I’ll go into the details in a few, but overall they talked about the impact of a Black male in their lives, specifcally a father; their values, most common of which were religion, education, and careers; race and ethnicity which congregated around media stereotyping, slavery, and the diaspora (black on black); and fnally mentoring characteristics.” “Wow, I see you were very busy last night and this morning.” “Yes, but I would be surprised if this is news to you,” I said knowingly. “I think one other question has been answered.” “What’s that?” “A dream deferred can sometimes be revived.”

The Father Figure “The Brothas seem to have a very strong understanding and passion for a patriarchal family fgure. Whether that fgure was their father or not, it seems that they understand the importance of the presence of a Black adult male in a family,” I said. “The importance of a father is critical to the emotional state of a young Black man.” “In the absence of the father, there seems to be an underlying emotional plea, why did my father leave?” I reflected. “Pierre and Rock both were without their fathers during their teenage years and into adulthood, recall how emotional Pierre had been when he spoke of his role model and mentor of his pre-teen years, Wayne.” I interrupted my train of thought and said, “I’m going to share with you vignettes from my conversations with the Brothas. This should give you some insight on how I derived the themes. Afterwards, I’ll summarize for you.” I said. “Fantastic. Can’t wait to hear what they had to say.” “Let’s start with this from Rock, discussing the absence of his father 185


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and stepfather and how mentors have helped shape him:” …and I think that being a black male raised without a father, when another Black male sees something in me, I naturally am attracted to that because as a man, you can’t be a man unless another man teaches you how to become one, a good man, a right man. Eventually you’ll get there, but you got to go through so much and you can make so many mistakes and not even know it. “That is very poignant, almost sad. Yet his strength and perhaps mentors and role models have helped him persevere and become the man that he is today,” said the Soul. “What about the others? I assume they had father fgures at home?” “The others did have fathers at home and they had a great deal of respect for them, especially as adults. I think in many ways they are images of their fathers-- their identity is somewhat a reflection of their father,” I surmised. “For example, in the case of Adisa, his father was a pastor, a great orator, and in many respects he gets his confdence, leadership and oratory skills from his father. Check out this from my conversations with Adisa:” …before, I wouldn't even -- I mean I honestly hated the guy. But I look at it now and I'm just like (him) I'm so fortunate to have a father like him. He's a very wise guy. A lot of my talent as far as communication…and just because he's a -- he's a preacher, but he does a lot of huge speeches. So he's very comfortable in the front of a large crowd. And everyone always comments on it. 186


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How he's an able orator. And now he just provides (me) with so much more wisdom. “Dan wants to take the mantle and legacy his father left and carry on. It’s not a coincidence that his father was a schoolteacher, like himself, and that they even attended the same college. His father greatly influenced his life. Here are his words,” I said, speaking to the Soul. I think, you know, my parents would be very proud of me, you know. Number one, I’m employed, thank god. Number two, I’ve accomplished some things that my father didn’t accomplish. My father wanted to go to school and get a master’s degree. My father never got a master’s degree. My motivation to go into administration, I think, comes about as a result of, in some ways, some things that I think my father might have had a desire to do but was never in a position to do. So I see it as a mantle, not only as a career goal but it’s a personal goal to try and make a greater diference in the lives of people…So it defnitely shaped my (self-image) seeing my father go to work, seeing my father be in (a profession) helped me I think, you know, (he will) always and forever be a role model because, you know, even after I fnished college, he died – my father died in the hospital. It just really -- really, it shaped me, you know.' “I think Kareem’s self professed reserve and calm may be a result of his father's influence as well, and this speaks to the notion of a stern and direct father fgure, perhaps a role model but not quite a mentor,” I said. You know, beside, like I said, my father (a mentor), you know, he showed me a lot about just being respectful 187


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to people. So, you know, I can't forget him, even though he didn't talk a lot, but you knew what he meant when they said back in the olden days, well I'm going to tell your father. So when they said I'm going to tell your father, that meant you'd better straighten up, because your father was coming in to -- he was the justice. The mother was the jury and the father was the executioner. “I can see how the thought of a strong and frm patriarch rose to a level of knowledge for you. Perhaps this may help you make the connection with identity development and mentoring,” said the Soul. “Take note of this,” he said. “Wesley Long and Courtney Ann Farr noted ‘While Charlie was growing up, he had watched his father return to school and study to become and accountant, giving Charlie the basis for perceiving his goals in concert with his emergent ethnic identity’. clxi And according to Gooden, ‘The absence of positive relations to fathers and the high degree of difficulty with male authority fgures in their teens reported by these men suggest that mentoring relationships would be very useful not only in helping them form Dreams, but also in helping them develop positive Black male identities and positive images of authority fgures.’” clxii “So, it seems to me that a father fgure is key in the development of the self, particularly for a male. It’s like removing the condensation from the bathroom mirror and what’s looking back at you is an older version of yourself. I think the same can be said of mentors, only, the mentor is the self you want to become,” I said. “The men who had fathers in the home, would you say that those fathers were mentors?” asked the Soul. “Now that’s a very good question. The answer is complicated; it’s both 'yes' and 'no'. I think each of the fathers were role models for certain, but I don’t believe they were all mentors, maybe because they weren’t asked, 188


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or because the dream of the son was completely diferent than what the father represented, or perhaps the father did not want to establish that kind of relationship,” I said. “Furthermore, its relative to the period of growth. During childhood, and teen years, the relationships seem to be strictly paternal, in that the father was the disciplinarian, the bread winner, not really a ‘pal’. As noted from Adisa above, he literally hated his father, and Dan stated that his father was not a touchy feely kind of person, so the father’s role seemed to have been alpha male and that’s it.” “However, as adults, the Brothas had choices, and in the case of Adisa, he came to respect his father’s wisdom and seemingly the father reciprocated and began to give Adisa more respect, perhaps as a result of his critical event. The result was Adisa seeing his father not only as a role model, but also as someone who could become his mentor, particularly in his spiritual life as well as in a role of communicator. Dan’s father passed on, but based upon the fact that he has built an image and a life very similar to his father's, it would not take much to assume that Dan’s father could have been a mentor. I think in the case of Kareem, he had become very interested in boxing and also became a Muslim, which in both cases were opposite of his father, so in essence his father was not his mentor, and Kareem was not likely to ask him to play that role in his life.” “Perhaps that’s something you might want to explore in the future, mentoring relationships with fathers,” said the Soul. “Perhaps I will.” “One more thing,“ I said. “OK.” “Based upon the information I’ve gathered thus far, I’d like to add something to your defnition of a mentor,” I said “And that is?” said the Soul, drawing out his last word for efect.

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“I would say that a mentor is a role model who’s said yes to a relationship. As I thought through the conversations I’ve had with the Brothas, it became apparent that all of their Black adult male mentors are role models,” I said. “So, all mentors in an informal mentoring relationship are role models, but not all role models are mentors.” “That may seem obvious, but it does clarify things,” said the Soul. “I can accept that.” “Fathers are the frst role models a male child gets to see. The child emulates the father’s walk and talk. They want to be their fathers. As men, it doesn’t seem to change that much. Adisa, Dan and Kareem all had fathers in their lives and they each in their own way has taken on characteristics of their fathers. Pierre and Rock were both without their fathers for a signifcant amount of their lives, and it’s apparent that the lack of a father left behind something more long lasting than just a missing hug or kiss good night. It’s left an artifact of tremendous value waiting to be claimed; it’s called love.”

Strong Values “When you look deep into the character of these Brothas, you fnd that they have a lot of strong values, rooted in their families, their lived experiences, and their mentoring relationships,” I said. “I’m eager to know more about that. Perhaps it will make an impact on the image of the Black man. Something positive I hope,” he said. “Well, I guess positive is in the eye of the beholder, but yes, I think people will fnd, as I have that there is much more depth to the Black man than sports highlights” I said, letting the Soul know that I had not forgotten his initial premise. “What did you fnd?” “Faith, education and career were all extremely important to them. Each in his unique way were influenced by these values and they (values) are defnitely connected to the relationships they have with their 190


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mentors,” I said. Faith “One trait or value common to all of these men is their strong faith in God. Why is that important? Religion will most likely play a signifcant role in their choice of future mentors or in any mentor-protégé relationships they are currently in. In fact, the Brothas would not be in their positions of success were it not for their strong belief in their God, church, pastors, and community. Each in their own story has gone through a period of trial and tribulation, and for each some aspect of their spirituality has been the signpost by which they were directed towards their mentors.” “So, each one of their mentors shares in their religious values and beliefs?” asked the Soul. “No, not necessarily. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make here. I’m suggesting that their mentors were in a certain respect akin to what Kareem described as ‘angels’, and their faith, the ability to believe in and completely trust something or somebody, allows them to not only give their trust to their God, but also to believe in the motives of their mentors.” “That’s powerful, the notion of having faith in your fellow man,” said the Soul. “Very,” I said, and continued. “Here’s a couple of examples of how powerful faith is and has been to these men.” “Pierre uses his barber shop to spread the word of the gospel according to the Bible and to train and mentor young men. The name of his barbershop is Edify, meaning ‘to instruct and improve, especially in religious knowledge’.clxiii In other words, to educate.” “Like each of the men we've talked with, Pierre faced difficult choices in life and relied on the values and strong sense of identity that his mentor helped him grow into. Pierre was involved in a fght at a barber 191


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shop he worked at in New York, and during the altercation the other combatant stabbed Pierre with shears. Pierre took the advantage and had an opportunity to reciprocate, here’s how he describes his decision to constrain himself:” But at one point, I remember picking up a pair of shears, a pair of iced shears. Picked them up, held them and now he didn't know what was coming. And I turned around three times -- three times to – three times I picked up the shears and three times...I put it down. But every time I picked it up, I felt just a calm. It was just -- I was just at peace with the situation and the frst time I picked it up and I clamped it and held onto it and I didn't hear anything,but I felt, you don't have to do it, I got ya. I felt peace, at peace. I picked it up again. Put it back down. Felt the same peace. And the third time I picked it up, that's when I believe I heard or I felt comforted where I didn't have to do it. And now, I’m really in my right to stab this guy, because I would have been defending myself, but I don't think I would have been obedient, because I was told not to. And I felt that I was told not to. It was just it happened so quick, but I knew -- I know that that's what was being said. You don't have to do it. I didn't do it. And, I don't know, I remember after that I felt alone and I felt like I was missing something. But I've never understood what it was. And I wasn't too smart enough or religious enough or smart enough in the scriptures to know that that's what I was missing was that comfort. And it wasn't until I become saved that I remember getting that. 192


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That's what it was. It was the whole experience, taking care of me. And but I felt just an overwhelming calm. It was -- you understand that as my life is in danger... OK. And I fnd a way out of this danger. Thank you. Because God told me not to, is how I take it and I had enough faith to trust that that's what it was and I don't remember putting in my head that it was God. I don't remember that. I just -- I didn't have to, it was spiritual. “This was a critical event in the life of Pierre. Though he did not become a Christian for some time afterwards, this event, this sparing of a life he could have easily taken--given his anger, and the knowledge that he could have been killed--shows how much power the spirit can influence a man,” I said. “As a result, his life and his career are devoted to sharing the power of the spirit with others. To Edify.” “I’ll share one more. When I asked Kareem if he could construct the ideal mentor, what would that person be like, here’s his response:” Caring -- I mean I ain't even going to say a color or anything. No, it don't have to be that way, because we all have a heart and we all have that thing called God consciousness inside of us. So how can I construct him? I'll let God construct him and I hope I can be around to see him. That's all I can say on that, because I ain't going to say what's the perfect person, but it ain't no perfect person. So whatever they have from life experiences, then that's what I would take. So you fnd me the perfect person, then I'll sell you some land in Florida that don't have no gators on it. But I don't know, it just, it ain't no perfect person. 193


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So only -- they only say that the perfect people was God's prophets and messengers that came here… Them the people that, you know, it was perfect. So they left a path for us to be on. So God almighty know that. We ain't going to be perfect. So we just try to achieve that perfection within our self. Make a person, no. I can't tell you how to make – all I could say is hopefully, he has some caring in him and he willing to go the long mile with a person, to be there for them. Sometime we might not be there all the time, but they always say, God ain't always on time, but he ain't never late. The Soul commented. “Religion has long been a value Black Americans have embraced. Rooted in a racist past, somehow, Black people managed to fnd strength and good in a God that they once believed to be White. But it’s the education the church provided, from fnancial literacy to moral responsibilities and all things in between clxiv plus mentoring, which makes religion so important to this discussion. With faith, a person is much more likely to show resilience, or as Kareem suggests, ‘go the long mile with a person.’” “To piggy back of of that, I’d say that it’s the ability to believe and to have faith that allows these men to commit to the mentoring relationship. Remember, it’s a reciprocal process, a relationship, which means commitment on both ends. As Rock said earlier, it means to be accountable. But something else you said, about education that resonates because education was one of the themes that emerged as well.” Education “That’s a good lead in to another strong value of these men, that of education. Education, it seems, is linked directly to the mentor-protégé relationship, and with good reason. The purpose of the relationship is to gain knowledge, and going back to our defnition of adult educators, not only to gain knowledge but competence as well,” I said. 194


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“What types of education are they most interested in? That is such a broad topic area,” the Soul remarked. “It is. But to pare it down into a section or two would be too narrow. Let me just say that these men are frm believers that education impacts their lives in a positive way. Some have formal education, bachelors and master’s degrees, while others were educated in a trade or craft. All understand the educational value of the mentor-protégé relationship,” I said. “How so?” asked the Soul. “Man, you are relentless, I should know that by now,” I replied. “So here’s the deal, it really boils down to much more than the degrees and the crafts. It seems to be much more complex than that. Don’t get me wrong, as I will share with you, those ideals of education, the gaining of knowledge in some type of formal setting, or perhaps even vocational training where competence is learned, and the aura surrounding them, is a strong internal drive, it’s real. However, what these men experienced with their mentors is a diferent kind of education, it’s teaching them the traits of how a confdent and strong Black man should conduct himself,” I said. “Do you recall our discussion on hegemony?” asked the Soul. “Do you think that what you are describing is in someway a counter to hegemony? Not necessarily a balance, because the grasp of hegemony is far too vast, but maybe a strong encroachment on it?” “Those are great questions, and yes, there is some validity to what you are saying. The mentors have provided strong Black role models, and the encounters, the education is from a Black perspective, so in essence I believe this is an encroachment of sorts on the boundaries of hegemony, and it is also a part of the incremental healing process we discussed earlier.” “Gotcha,” said the Soul, and then “Any details from the Brothas?” he

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asked. I began recounting my memory of the discussions on education. “Here’s a quote from Rock, discussing his search for role models and mentors:” Internally, I was struggling because I left an environment that I knew I didn’t want to be a part of. I knew that as, being a Black male, I was not the typical kid that – or individual that they portrayed on the news – young, sellin’ drugs, not doing well in school, getting young women pregnant before being married. So seein’ that that’s what I was runnin’ away from, and being able to have examples of what could be, and what you should do, was everything to me because no matter who you are as a child, as a young Black male, society’s gonna put images out. Other people of other ethnicities are not gonna have the same level expectations. People are gonna shape your thoughts for you if you allow them to, so the reason why I was seeking that was I knew I didn’t want to be that way, and I knew I was more than that, and all I needed as a image of somethin’ that I knew I could be. You and Lincoln was that for me. You were men that took care of your kids. You had education. “Man, that’s serious. He was searching, searching for someone who could validate his dream. Someone who could fulfll his vision of what a Black man could become. In Lincoln and yourself, he found two strong Black men, with values, perhaps most importantly, education.” “Thank you. I understood when I met Rock that he was interested in education, that education was a vehicle for him to realize some of his

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dreams and aspirations,” I said, and transitioned into recalling Adisa's experience. “Adisa is a young man similar to what Rock was like when I met him, eager, hungry, full of energy and excitement, and really searching for that someone or something that would spark him to grasp his potential. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation, as he describes how he met his mentor:” ...we met through my university school of business. And we had met a few times before, again, he actually became a mentor...I think he's proud to see a young guy, a African American man, that's, you know, even trying to do something of a sort. Because, fortunately, it's become a lot better, but it, especially, in this -- in this college, it isn't too common to see too many of our type that are really trying to do big things in life, very (a) typical things. “Adisa laments about his perception that young Black males at his college do not take full advantage of their opportunities and ‘do big things in life…’ yet its apparent that he believes education is the avenue to reach your dream.” “Now, Dan takes a diferent view, he is an educator and has been for most of his career, as was his mother and father, so it's what he knows and what’s familiar with. For him education is part of his life and he values it above most things, except his faith. When he speaks with his mentors, education and career are at the forefront of their conversations, as well as spirituality:” You know, I talk more about education and, what my own personal goals have been, and he’s 197


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defnitely affirming, both from a practical standpoint as well as spiritual standpoint. He’s been very supportive, and a lot of times, you know, as the saying goes, sometimes you don’t need everybody liking you. You know, you just need the right motivation. You need the right people in your corner. So with that in mind, I take a great deal of stock in him working to encourage and affirm it, and I’ve been very much appreciative of that, very much appreciative of it. “Do you recall our conversation from yesterday when we talked about education and mentoring relationships being (or not) reciprocal? We talked about ‘the banking theory’ as it applies to educators and mentors?”clxv the Soul asked. “Yes, I recall,” I replied. “Have you gotten any feel for whether these relationships (the Brothas) are ‘banking’ meaning, autocratic, in that the mentor gets to set all of the rules, acts as the only provider of knowledge, and is disinterested in the protégés experiences?” he asked. “Great question,” I said, thinking about how good it feels to be able to share some knowledge with the Soul. “I think the relationships are more traditional mentor-protégé, where the mentor defnitely takes the lead and provides guidance. However, I think the relationships can be more open, more reciprocal, but both parties, particularly the protégé must liberate themselves from the traditional view of mentoring, seeking wisdom from a ‘wise old sage’ or becoming ‘star struck’ in the presence of their role model. They must ‘unlearn’ this story before they can truly learn.” “I see. I fnd it interesting that you used the term ‘unlearn’. I agree with you. We need to educate both mentor and protégé on the value of the reciprocal teacher-learner model. Angela Brew wrote this with 198


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respect to ‘unlearning:’” Wisdom may come through experience, but it does not come through an accumulation of experience. Unlearning is about being prepared to throw out what one has learnt and begin afresh. I’m inclined to say that it is the process of learning that is important; that there is only the journey, never the destination. However, I think what I am referring to is the process of unlearning: the attempt to access our inner knowings; the coming face to face, again and again, with our ignorance; with our not-knowing. The highest point of knowing is not knowing. Herein lies the paradox of learning from experience. clxvi I thought for a moment about the quote from Angela Brew. Yes, experience is very important in these relationships. In a sense, it is the basis of the protégé's infatuation. The protégé sees in the mentor a picture of what he wants to become. Therefore, he is all too eager to follow the lead of the mentor. So, given this dynamic, is it important to unlearn the value of experience? “No.” It was the Soul. “She's not saying to unlearn the value of experience, she's saying that we should value the importance of learning – so that we can gain experience. In practical terms, it's like someone saying they've always done something this way or that way. That experience has value, but to close one's mind to another learning opportunity is autocratic and should be unlearned. You see the diference?” “Yes. I do. It makes sense given our discussion on reciprocal teaching and learning,” I said matter-of-factly, and of course, moved on. “Naturally, education is a precursor to careers. Can they ‘dream’ about 199


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a career? And if so, how has the mentor made an impact on their dreams? These are some to the questions that I considered when this theme developed.” Career “The Brothas are career-oriented individuals. Along with valuing education, they value the opportunities it provides for career development, career advancement, fnancial stability, and self-esteem. If education is the ‘alley’ then career is the ‘oop’ for them. When they looked at their mentors, it was their attitudes, behaviors, and selfconfdence that they were attracted to, but a much bigger part of that attraction was and is the careers the mentors are engaged in.” “They can see opportunities for success?” asked the Soul. I smiled. The Soul, ever diligent, wants me to see how the feedback from the Brothas and the themes that have emerged are in concert with our guiding questions. “Yes, they can,” I said. “In all cases the Brothas have found that they could move forward and chase their dreams. They could see themselves professionally doing as as well as if not better than their mentors. It seems apparent to me then that their opportunities for success have been enhanced by their relationships and experiences with their mentors.” Again, I began to relive the stories from the previous night and convey them to the Soul. “Pierre would visit barber shops, dream of becoming a barber and opening his own shop. Along the way he had mentors who kept him focused on what was in front of him, knowing, all along,the potential he had to do good and to be successful. Adisa’s vision of a rapid climb up the corporate ladder, to follow a career similar to his mentor is evident, and Dan, who has two active mentors, one his pastor and the other an education administrator, has a passion for success as an educator. Here’s a comment from Dan about his administrator mentor:”

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He has given me advice on how to be career savvy in that arena, you know, particularly when it comes down to, putting yourself in position, not being just put in position, but performing while in that position and then letting your performance kind of speak for itself. To where, when the time comes, when the opportunity comes, you know, you can, you know, say, hey, I want to be considered for this because; as opposed to, say, well, I want to be considered and, well, why should we consider you? So right now I see, from a career standpoint, right now, is me working to put myself in a position of, you know, being able to answer the second half of that question. Well, this is why we should consider him because; and it doesn’t hurt to, you know, in some ways, as I said earlier, the favor can only be given…to the person that’s being seen. “Rock has forged a career outside of the military, which had a profound impact on his life. The basis of his current career as a fnancial advisor was born during his military career, that is, a strong work ethic and unfortunately the scars of racism:” Because racism is something that you feel. You know that it’s there. You can always prove it if you choose to, so, you know, I had that issue. But then once I got out of the Air Force, I would say no, I haven’t (experienced racism). However, it’s still there, and the reason why I say that… is I don’t work in a capacity where they could fre me over some bull jive. If you’re the number one producer like I am in my company, my numbers speak for themselves, so when you’re in a commission-based business, it 201


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tends – all that racist stuf tends to go away. And the reason being is because I’m being compensated for my work. No one can hold me back. You know, they really can’t. Not on the income level. Maybe promotional and, you know – but as far as income, I’m quite comfortable with the situation. Of course, you know, the white males don’t like the fact that a younger African American guy kicked their butt. Remarks are being made, but it doesn’t bother me as much because I’m content with who I am, but they also know not to get out of line. So, because no one has their thumb on me, I think that racist thing doesn’t bother me as – it doesn’t give me as much stress. It always will bother you, but it doesn’t stress me out because it’s not like it’s truly, truly jeopardizing my income. You know, two things I don’t allow. You can’t mess with my family. You can’t mess with my money. I don’t do well with anybody that do that, so life has been, since I got out of the military, pretty much race free. There’s been a few incidents, but I laugh at ‘em now, you know, ‘cause they’re the ignorant ones. We got the power. “Perhaps the attraction to the path taken by Pierre and Rock – and maybe Adisa, is the idea that Rock describes as not having a ‘thumb on me,’ in essence freedom from the power of White control (or as Cross calls it, ‘deracination,’clxvii in which Whites in power made Black people ashamed of who they are, a dependency on White society for selfdefnition). In other words, they are promoting their Blackness and taking ownership for the outcome of their decisions,” said the Soul, then continued. “In addition, their choices of careers are consistent with their world 202


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views and their stages of psychological Nigrescence. According to Parham and Austin, ‘Whether influenced by role models (or a lack thereof) or by historical precedence, individuals do select occupations based on their ability to see themselves reflected in a particular work environment or career feld.’” clxviii Consider Rock’s views as a person who has experienced racism, his “encounter” stage, and adjusted his life to where he is now living in an internalization stage. He’s undergone full Nigrescence and is independent of White acknowledgement. In the case of Adisa and Pierre, either by coincidence or trend, both self-identify with their ethnic heritage as opposed to their physical appearance, thus, they are Ghanaian and Haitian, not Black, and this may account for their independent nature, their choice of careers. Their status as immigrants may also be a factor in their career paths. Freire sums it up in this way:” People are fulflled only to the extent that they create their world (which is a human world), and create it with their transforming labor. The fulfllment of humankind as human beings lies, then, in the fulfllment of the world. If for a person to be in the world of work is to be totally dependent, insecure, and permanently threatened – if their work does not belong to them – the person cannot be fulflled. Work that is not free ceases to be a fulflling pursuit and becomes an efective means of dehumanization. clxix “I like Freire’s choice of the word fulflled. I think that what matters most to these men with respect to their careers are fulfllment and opportunity. Opportunity is where the mentor comes in because he provides the protégé with a role model that speaks directly to opportunity, something that, as the quote from Freire suggests, is elusive for the oppressed. Of course, contributing factors to oppression are race 203


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and ethnicity, which is the next theme we will explore. I reflected. Values such as faith, education, and careers speak volumes about the worldview of the protégé. The men I spoke with came into the mentoring relationship with a positive worldview, one that was reinforced and enhanced by their relationship with the mentor. Values suggest strength and pride which seem to have been communicated in the relationship from both mentor and protégé.

Race and Ethnicity “We have explored race and ethnicity quite a bit,” I said. “It’s a prerequisite,” said the Soul. “Well, I’m glad that we had those talks, because one of the themes emerging from my discussions with the Brothas is race and ethnicity. In fact, there is a quote that you recited that resonates with me.” “Which one?” “It was the one from Peggy McIntosh. It made me think about these issues from the perspective of the ‘other’:” My schooling gave me no training in seeing myself as an oppressor, as an unfairly advantaged person, or as a participant in a damaged culture. I was taught to see myself as an individual whose moral state depended on her individual moral will. My schooling followed the pattern my colleague Elizabeth Minnich has pointed out: whites are taught to think of their lives as morally neutral, normative, and average, and also ideal, so that when we work to beneft others, this is seen as work that will allow “them” to be more like “us.” clxx It made me think about how Black people may be mere vessels contributing to our own oppression, in other words, we are “Black

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Skinned with White Masks!”clxxi It also made me think about what is normal? From what or who's perspective is the concept of normal regarded? With that in mind, I asked the Brothas several questions related to racism, in order to see if they understood the dynamics of racism in this country, and to gain insight on the mentor’s actions regarding racism. I wanted to know if their mentors were at a place where they understood the ‘prerequisites’ in other words, were they activist?. “What did you fnd out about the protégé’s and the mentor's history and actions regarding racism?” asked the Soul. “The mentor-protégé relationships did not seem to have a strong racial focus, in that the mentor did not provide a great deal of insight into racism, oppression, White superiority, and hegemony. The impact of racism was based more on the protégé's own experiences as well as media influences, particularly the stereotyping of the Black male.” “Realistically, would you expect that the mentors would be engaged in discussions on oppression, White superiority and hegemony?” he asked. “I suppose I should not. After all, I'm just starting to understand the depth of the problem of racism myself,” I uttered. “But, you have uncovered important information relative to the mentor- protégé relationship, something that is common to most adult educational settings,” said the Soul. “What's that?” “Their lived experiences.” As he said that I recalled our earlier conversation about the defnition of mentoring where I had surmised, “So, it’s the lived experience of the mentor and how the lived experience is interpreted by the protégé which underlies the context, and it’s the context, the environment, that determines whether you consider the relationship mentor-protégé.” “So, perhaps I should revise my original thought to say that it's the 205


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lived experiences of mentor and protégé and how each is interpreted that underlies the context.” I ofered. “Perhaps,” said the Soul. I pondered this and moved on. What You See Is What You Get “On numerous occasions the Brothas made mention of how they are portrayed in the media,” I said. “Didn’t you expect that?” he said. “Honestly, I didn’t expect anything. When I began talking to them, I was more interested in what they had to say as opposed to what I wanted or expected them to say. How else was I going to learn anything?” I said, a little upset that the Soul would question my motives. “Don’t get all bent out of shape, I just wanted to see how committed you are to seeking knowledge. Relax, you passed,” he said. “Now please share some of their thoughts. But frst, tell me how does this really relate to the mentor-protégé relationship, and does it have anything to do with the protégés self-image?” “These are all interconnected,” I said. “In essence, the positive image that the mentor portrays is the lens by which the protégé views himself. It doesn’t mean that the Brothas aren’t keenly aware of the negative images that are in place about him, but rather, it means that despite these negative images, they have managed to persevere and this is do in large part because of their positive self image, which is related to their experiences with their mentors. Does that answer your question?” “Yes, it does.” “Cool. Let me start with Kareem and his perspective of how the media portrays Black men from a family viewpoint:” I mean, from what the news – when you read and hear the news media they always said, you know, it’s a whole 206


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lot of single parents out there, and there’s no man there. The man is either gone or in jail or dead, or if he isn’t dead, he ain’t doin’ nothin’, he on drugs, or hurtin’ the family. So but, you know that’s statistics. “Even more fascinating is Kareem’s account of his encounter overseas and how the media’s influence set up the dynamic for the interaction:” Because I remember one time we went overseas in a certain country and they didn't think that there were Black -- well, Muslim Americans over there when we went over there. And I said, yeah, we got plenty of African American Muslims. But they didn't know that because they'd never seen that. They wasn't shown that on their television. On their television program they see blacks as drugs addicts, pimps. They was getting that kind of mentality. So when they see us, like that old saying, they used to think that blacks had tails, because if somebody said one thing and they thought we all had tails and they'd grow at midnight. I said, no, it ain't anything like that. But see that's the way the perception was. And once you get somebody that don't see other things and they was getting psychological on that one thing, they fantasize on that and then that's it, you know, and that's all they can go by. “As you recall Adisa had a life-altering – critical--event which changed his viewpoint on how to be a young Black (African) male in America. Here’s what he had to say:” I don't know why I wanted that type of stuf. I don't know why -- why I thought, you know, trying to get the most girls, trying to wear the best clothes 207


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was important to me. But I guess it's because I played into the stereotype. I mean you see so much on TV. You think it's the glamor, the cool, you know, and you kind of want some of that stuf... “Rock talked about this after a racist encounter at his high school in Virginia, which was a critical event in his life as well:” And after that experience, it hurt me, but it also empowered me because I knew the only reason that those people – that those White people were bothered by me is because they seen somethin’ in me that they didn’t see in themselves. And I kinda recognized that. And I, from that point forward, not that I disagreed with the beliefs of white people, but I – it made me realize, we’re just as good as them. And we could do more. And I could be great, and it’s OK to be smart. And it’s OK to be a Black male, and to have higher desires, and to not want to be in trouble, and not to succumb to the images that they portray us on the news. “I see your point,” said the Soul. “I think it is precisely the fact that these negative stereotypes exist within the media, that is the rationale for some of the protégés to seek mentors. They are looking for an alternative to the media Black man; one that understands the value of education and faith, one that believes in family, careers and community, one that is willing to go the long mile; a role model,” I said, and continued. “CRT speaks to the permanence of racism in America. Whether overt or covert, it is not surprising that these men have had to face the negative stereotypes that are controlled by the media and in many cases reinforced in and through the education system, which, as we’ve discussed, is a vessel for hegemony. Mentors, 208


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then, can use planned activities or micromentoringopportunities to discuss these negative images. Much more powerful perhaps is that they be themselves: strong Black men committed to enhancing their lives, the lives of their families and certainly their protégés,” I said. “Well said.” It was the Soul. “Thanks, but something is troubling me. The persistence and impact of these stereotypes, the pervasiveness of the system – the four fences – and the negativity that is racism has been a catalyst for some Black people to interact with each other in a negative way.” “Black on Black?” “Yes,” I said. “Black on Black.” Black on Black “I’m surprised by the number of references to anti-Black behavior made by other Black people or ethnic groups. I know we’ve talked about this on a couple of occasions, but I just want to provide you with additional details on how much depth there is to this,” I remarked. “Considering we were just talking about the self-image of the protégé and how the mentor impacts that, how then would this ft into the equation?” asked the Soul. “Hmmm, gives me something to think about,” I said. Then after a short pause, I replied, “It’s really no diferent than what we’ve been discussing. Remember all of these themes are linked together and the answers are all coming in the same area? Specifcally, that area is the impact of racism on our society and how the activist mentor serves as a sentinel, ever ready to guard against the intrusion of hegemony, the oppression of White supremacy, and the power of the ‘system.’ So-called ‘Black on Black’ negative interaction, whether criminal, name-calling, or stereotyping, are consequences of the slave mentality that was imbued in Black people. No one wants to be lower than the lowest, so they have to prop themselves

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up. The mentoring relationship helps the Brotha see himself in a positive light, despite the negative intrusions, whether it be from the Whitecontrolled media or if it is from other Black people.” “How bad could it – the Black on Black issue – be?” asked the Soul. “Pierre, who self identifes as Haitian, interestingly refer to the traditional Caribbean ethnic rivalries with the Trinidadians and Jamaicans as ‘Black on Black crime.’ These rivalries are similar to, though on a much larger scale, the rivalries that occur between Black males who live on the east and west coasts of the United States as well as northern and southern Blacks. The rivalries are not rooted in a tangible beneft, but rather in the psychological beneft as to whose self-identity, attitudes, behaviors, whose ‘culture’ is perceived to be better than the others. Here’s more, as he (Pierre) explains meeting his wife, who is Jamaican:” And I wasn't always that way. When I met my wife, I was from Trinidad. (I lied) big time. ‘Got more serious, I had to fess up because I knew she was from Jamaica... so I have a better chance being from another island that had more respect. It's all about respect. Trinidad was more respected than Haiti. So I couldn't lie and tell her I was from Jamaica because she's from Jamaica. She'll know too much about it...I knew about Trinidad because I dated enough women from Trinidad. I told her. And then when she found out, I told her my father is Haitian (implying that his mother is not)...But if I wasn't full Haitian, she might accept me more. If I was not full Haitian, she would accept me...I mean I had situations with her aunts, go to eat or whatever and they'd tell me little stuf like you would expect from White people. So you expect that. They would say, don't your people eat cats or people eat dogs? 210


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Or, your people don't wear deodorant. Black on Black. What do you call (it) Black on Black crime? “Not only is this occurring from an ethnic standpoint, but also from an individual standpoint. This next passage I’m sharing is from Adisa’s interaction with his Black peers in college and because of his attitude and behavior, they call him an ‘Oreo.’ Again, as with the greater conflict between cultures of the Caribbean, the conflict between sub-cultures within the Black community are ever present. The term Oreo was not born out of this young man’s experience in college, it has long been around and is a sanitized version of the term ‘house Nigger.’ On the surface it was used to describe a person under the control of Whites but below the surface its meaning is closer to ‘He thinks he’s better than me, so I’m going to put him in his place.’ When asked for a defnition and elaboration, here’s his response:” Oreo? Black on the outside, White on the inside. And I guess, you know, when I initially heard it, I'm like enraged, because I'm like these people don't know. That like if these people knew what I was before, they would wish I was -- they would wish I was the Oreos of Oreo. So I was initially enraged, but then, I'm like, you know what, man? People can view almost in whatever way they want. As long as what I know I'm doing is right. And then, frst of all, these are my peers. So when I said, that I actually take that back. My peers can view me as almost whatever way they want. What I really care about is those people that are above me. I care about how they view me. Because I'm trying to be above and beyond my peers. So with a few – few of my peers, especially when this was freshman year, fne, you know. You want to call me Oreo, whatever. I'm going to continue 211


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doing what I got to do. I'm not going to let that stop me. I'm an Oreo, let me get -- let me get tougher. Let me get Blacker. What is -- what is the characteristic of being White in the frst place? I -- if I speak proper is that White? There's a lot of White people that don't speak proper. There's rednecks. All right. And we can go whatever, you know. So I mean that hit me as just really ignorance. But, OK, they can call me whatever they want. I'm fne. Have it -- have it your way. I mean, OK. I'm not going to try to control your perception of why I'm -- I'm just going to be me. “Adisa’s experience is somewhat typical in the Black community. I’ve heard that term ‘Oreo’ on many occasions and have had the displeasure of someone hinting that I ft that description. It generally arises when a Black man, particularly a young Black man demonstrates that education and values are important. More atypical is Dan’s experience that he shared. Dan’s perspective is that of a Black man who views his people as his biggest hindrance. Because Black men have had many levels of abuse, their self-identity has been stepped on, flushed, burned, buried, and carved. As a result they take their frustrations out on the ones who can’t harm them, who care about them the most, the family, friends and other Black men. Remember what you said earlier, if misery loves company then its name is oppression. Here’s a couple of vignettes from Dan and one from Kareem that speaks to these encounters:” You know, we often at times go through, you know, and as I’ve heard it said and as I’ve heard it preached, you have the angry Black man syndrome, like he’s mad with everybody. He’s pissed of because, you know, well, often it’s said, “Well, the White man won’t 212


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let me do this, and the White man won’t let me do that.” Well, you know, I had to be honest with it. A White person (never) precluded me nor stopped from doing pretty much anything I wanted to do. If anyone has stood in my way, it’s either been folk that have looked like me or yourself, and I’ve got to be honest about that, you know. “We’re our worst enemy, in a sense is what Dan is saying here:” It’s never been a lack of motivation, but it’s always been, as is said, when it gets spoken of about African-Americans learning how to read, is that, you know, there had to have been a saying, someone had to have said that, you know, if you ever wanted to keep anything from African-Americans, put it in a book. Well, that is why, in some ways, you know, we do not prescribe to reading as much in our culture as we probably should. There’s no lack of books, but because we don’t value reading and acquiring knowledge as being a priority, thus we end up sufering because of the lack thereof… “Kareem talks about the slave mentality, something he calls a ‘crab in the pot’ complex, perhaps still hindering Black people:” I know my ancestors were strong to go through all that, and then, still come out. But I wish that mentality would have, you know, been stronger, and they say, “OK, let’s unify. We went through the separation, now we can all try to get together.”… But still, our mentality’s still not that way because we still have that crab in the pot there, and if one tryin’ to get out, to give us some freedom, the other one

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wanna bring you down because they don’t understand… “Each of these ideas related to Black on Black negative episodes, when taken alone would render a completely diferent psychological response, however, collectively, they lend themselves to be viewed under the umbrella of thought relative to White racism,” I said mindful of my redundancy. “I’m not taking this literally, as if each one of these episodes were the result of a White racist paying Caribbeans to distrust each other, or someone standing around the corner and paying a Black college student to hate on his brother. No, I’m talking about something much more systemic, the concept of divide and conquer.” The Soul stopped me abruptly and said, “Before you go on, here's a few words from Freire that speaks to the notion of divide and conquer, from the perspective of the oppressor,” Every move by the oppressed towards unity points towards other actions; it means that sooner or later the oppressed will perceive their state of depersonalization and discover that as long as they are divided they will always be easy prey for manipulation and domination.clxxii “That does give it a little bit more perspective,” I said, and quickly, “I had a conversation with Kareem about this; here are his thoughts.” “Let's here what he had to say,” said the Soul. You can’t, you know, you can’t do nothin’ because somebody always was watchin’ out after you, or they want what you got, you know, that pride. And you know, sometime they use that, I’ll say, that Genghis Khan theory, divide and conquer. 214


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You know, that’s the way they did us, divided us up, took families, separated, husband from wife, husband from kids. I mean, that’s – if somebody right now took my family away from me like that, I mean, I’d probably go of too, you know. “As I have said, these themes are all interconnected and one thing that’s come to mind is a connection with education and these racial concepts,” I reiterated. “Continue,” said the Soul. “We’ve made the point earlier that mentors are indeed educators. The role of educators (particularly as we’ve discussed from a Freirian perspective), democratic, reciprocal teaching and learning, is to enlighten, to commit to dialogue and to share understanding. Ultimately, the Black adult activist mentor must be willing to confront, alongside his protégé, racism, oppression, White superiority, and hegemony – the structure; as well as issues like Black on Black ‘crime’, and media depiction – the dressing,” I said and left the Soul in silence. “And one other thing.” “What’s that?” “Slavery. It’s at the root of BID and CRT; it’s the carbon that created this monster called racism.” Slavery “These Black men have taken ownership of the their place in history, they understand their connection to the past, and by that I mean from slavery through modern times.” “They’ve told me how proud they are to be Black men, and I think, psychologically, each is secure and comfortable in their roles. Though from very diferent perspectives and diferent stages of psychological Nigrescence,” I said. “Elaborate.” 215


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“The image of the slave is that of a person, a man in this example, that has shackles on his ankles and perhaps even his wrists, where it might be easy for the slave-owner, the ‘massah’ to chain him up after he has completed his chores. The updated image, psychological slavery, is one that depicts the Black man as a ‘boy’ who has no real moral or cognitive perspective, a sex-starved dead beat, likely to have several kids, and none from the same woman. The psychological slave is dependent upon the White man to provide him with his value, a.k.a., Negromachy.” “And…?” “And his self-identity is weakened by this. But again, his relationship with the mentor has helped him become more than even he thought he could become. He’s been encouraged, praised, and enlightened. He’s even looked at as an equal, and in some cases, as being better. We know his self-image has been strengthened and we can hope that his selfidentity, has been strengthened, even if just incrementally, by his relationship with the mentor.” “Insightful,” said the Soul. “I’ll share a few quotes from the Brothas addressing the issue of slavery, and notice how each responds to the subject.” “Here’s Rock talking about slavery and how he’s doing his part to maintain a balance with White activism:” No, I live by it every day because we stand tall on the backs of our ancestors. I don’t think that I could be anywhere that I am if someone else of my ethnicity, African American, a descendent of a slave, if they didn’t pay these ways for us. We just simply would not be here. Somebody was bold enough to say no more, no more. So for me to throw that away would be a huge injustice to my past. You know, recently because it hasn’t changed. 216


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Our opportunity have grown, but I’m not gonna ever get comfortable with the fact that I make a lot of money…so I think that we have a standard to uphold for the price that many of our ancestors and our forefathers have paid to get us just to be recognized as a individual. Just to be able – we’ve always had the right to vote, but be able to go to the polls without being harassed. To be able to have access to great restaurants. To be able to live in any community that we want…So it still exists, and here was a good reminder of it. When they had the Tea Party, August 28th, the anniversary of Dr. King’s march on Washington, and they used all that rhetoric to basically insight racism on this day and demean what he says in a very, very covert way. But we marched with Al Sharpton on the nationalaction.org, and we started it at Dunbar High School…We went, and as we started marching, just to be around all the beautiful Black people, and as we got close coming down 6th Street through Chinatown then we turned on Constitution, and all the Tea Partiers were still there. I stopped my sons. I said, “Look in those White people face. That’s the same look they had when they lynched us. That’s the same look they had when Bull Connors turned the dogs loose and the hoses on us. That’s the same look they had when I had to fght all those White boys in that high school. That’s the same look that they had when they dragged that man in Texas. Don’t forget that look of hatred… When we got home I showed ‘em some other photos of that look. He’s like, “Dad, they look exactly like that.”...So I’m glad we did that march. So my feeling about racism – I mean slavery can never be forgotten. It should be 217


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taught more. The truth should be told, and not only just on the sides of what the White man did to us, but how we allowed it. “Dan seeks a diferent kind of balance, the balance of what could be in the present and future with the failings of the past – racial balance. Psychologically, I think he is not too far removed from Negromachy, therefore he is much tougher on Black people and would be more likely to tell them to strap themselves up and rise above their condition; his is a view much closer to the pre-encounter stage of Nigrescence:” But at the end of the day, we still come away with the same problem, you know, and I think it really comes down to people being bare, butt naked, to the bone, painfully obvious and painfully honest about certain feelings, certain harboring's, certain fears, some of which, you know, have some justifcation and foundation while yet others are straight from the pit…If you are a person of color, it’s been the failings of many that have allowed for the accomplishments of few. And secondly, because of the fact that you are standing on the shoulders of the suferings and of the misunderstandings of others. Will I be a person that is going to be, “Black power?” No, I’m not going to be that way. You know, I acknowledge it, but I believe in us trying to bring together racial lines. That can be considered counterproductive because I think you must frst understand self. Once you understand who you are,…what you…then, I think, being secure in that alone is going to be reflected in whatever else you do. I don’t need to wear a 218


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dashiki or wear bright colored clothing to prove to folk “I’m African-American.” I don’t need to do that. Why do I need to do that? No, don’t need to do it. It’s obvious by my skin color, the wideness of my nose, the fat, juicy lips I have, that I am who I am. “Kareem on the other hand has a very practical view of slavery, in that it happened, and now let’s move on. He sees the humanity in all while acknowledging the evils of the past. His Islamic beliefs have helped him get to that point where he can forgive, though I believe he will never forget. Ironically, it is his religion, which is often times denigrated in this country, that would allow him to see beyond racial and ethnic boundaries and meet people in the center to dialogue and to pursue human-related goals. In a quiet way, he may be the most advanced, stage-wise, of all the Brothas. Most notably he demonstrates those traits that indicate he is at the internalization-commitment stage of the Cross model. He's comfortable with his position in the world and his position as a Black man with beliefs grounded in Islam:” Oh, I think about slavery, I think about, shootings(?), abduction, separation, and just negative thoughts come into my mind because slavery is not nothing good. I mean, if somebody said something good came from slavery they have to be out of their mind, ‘cause when you takin’ away somebody’s rights, individual rights, and makin’ them feel like they low as just dirt, or something, nah, it ain’t nothin’ good come from that. And then, our – I mean, I ain’t gonna say our people’s the only people, ‘cause I know there was other slaves that was of other color out there too, in history.

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You know? So but, ours was for 400 years. You know? So that’s a long time. And – I don’t think that when – we went through it just because they just thought that we were below human, you know, sub-human. And here we is – in the Bible, it say, “God created all men in the image and likeness of himself.” And we’re supposed to be all equal. So that right there tells me that I ain’t no low creature. I’m equal as the next person…Yeah, yeah, because that slavery thing, it just wasn’t a physical thing, it was a mental thing, too. You know, so and, the mentality of it, it made it on to the next generations, and next generations, to – for the people that stayed out in the felds, the people that stayed in the house, you know, the negativity on that part…So I mean, we’re still carrying that shame, that yoke still around us from that time because that slavery, like I said, that was a mental thing also. That mentality just kept on lingering on…But we all need some kind of therapy to soothe us, to get us back to who we – our ancestors wanted us to be, you know, great leaders, great thinkers. And I mean, they – I know that’s out there. They out there. They, you know – it’s there, but we just wanna get all the masses, all the individuals, though, that had that same frame mind, you know, mindset, to get that slavery thing out your mind, and then start doin’ this thing the right way. The Brothas view of slavery are situated most often from the perspective of respect for those who came before us and who sufered countless times. From the millions lost at sea during the voyages to the Americas and the Caribbean, to the thousands, perhaps millions, beaten, starved, hanged and shot to death while in the confnes of their masters and overseers, they feel a sense of commitment to honoring those ancestors. The commitment is one of the characteristics they have 220


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displayed. Thematically, the others are, respect, love, caring, and sharing. “Sounds as if you are ready to discuss mentor characteristics. But before you do, let me say a few words about race and ethnicity.” It was the Soul. “Go ahead.” “I’ll be brief. I’m pleased to see that you talked about self-identity with regard to your analysis of these conversations about race and ethnicity. Stay vigilant when it comes to keeping these conversations in context. Yes, there are conflicts between Caribbean cultures and between Black Americans. There is Black on Black crime, both cultural and physical, and for sure there are Black men who want to hold the others down. But it is because of the historical tsunami that is slavery, racism, and White superiority that we sufer these ills. In addition, it is because of these ongoing concerns that we continue to address these waves of psychological destruction. We want people to know that there was a great tsunami that engulfed the Americas and took over 300 years for the waves to begin subsiding, and we – Black men – were all disorderly, drowning, scrambling for life in the valleys of death while the White man stood at the mountain top and observed.” I had nothing to add, and moved on.

Mentor Characteristics “I’m interested in knowing more about the mentors,” said the Soul. “I think you’ve given us a really good analysis of the major themes that ran through the narratives of the protégés. Did they indicate any characteristics that might give us some insight into why they chose one mentor over another?” “Actually, those characteristics emerged as a theme. In essence each protégé described the following as characteristics of a mentor: selfdiscipline, love, respect, caring, and sharing. These traits appeared in one form or another in their conversations with me, yet each one had a 221


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dominant trait that they focused on.” “I’m surprised that you didn’t ask me about the nature of the relationship between the mentor and the protégé,” I said, mindful of the guiding questions that the Soul keeps me in tune with. “Never really thought to ask that,” said the Soul. “But since you asked…” “It’s funny, but as I look back on the dialogue I had with the Brothas, it seems really clear to me that these men connected with their mentors on a really personal level. Though it did not appear that they talked constantly about their dreams and about their future, the protégés seemed to have a vision in their heads as to how their lives would play out and all the while the mentor was kind of like their own version of ‘the the Soul’. In essence the characteristics are indicators of the relationship, the personal connections and intimacy that exists or existed between mentor and protégé.” I was waiting for the Soul to comment, but he said not a word. Then I went on to describe what I thought were the main characteristics desired of each mentor from the protégés' perspective. “I did get some responses from them relative to mentor characteristics. In each case one word seemed to describe their feelings for the mentor. This I suspect is the basis for the relationship, even more so than the mirror image, its more emotional, has more depth,” I said. Love “Rock talked about love being the number one attribute of the mentor. He believes that the emotional connection with your mentor is important in the relationship. As been mentioned, perhaps the absence of his biological father provides him with a sense of longing, of a need for that emotional attachment. He wants to give and receive love from a father the same way he gives and receives love from his sons. That sense of love carries on to family, friends, life, and community:”

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So you have to feel good about yourself. And then when I look around, we have a spirit inside of us that just lights up the whole world, that connects us all. It’s something about that African American, that being a Black male, it’s just – and Black females. Our culture is so much love. I just take a great interest in my children, and I love my sons, man. My oldest son is downstairs. It breaks my heart to know that he’s leaving next year. I thought I would be ready for him to go. I ain’t ready. The house won’t be the same because he’s away from me. “Pierre reminisces about a mentor and barbering icon in the city where he lives. He pays him the ultimate compliment, both love and respect:” You just don't go with anybody and give respect. Why was he respected? He put his heart and made these kids feel good. He loved people. He had to fght for them.

Respect “We know that in Pierre’s story, respect is the most important attribute in relationships, whether with family, friends, or people in the barbershop just passing through, it’s the one thing he gives freely and unconditionally. In return, he expects the same treatment. In many of our conversations, respect has been at the forefront. In a mentor-protégé relationship it is paramount for him:” But if you needed something, I’m gonna be the one to help you to get it. You know? I guess I was looking to be – I guess it’s back to that respect thing. You know, needed, or considered – you see what I mean? 223


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Or influence. You want to be an influence. “Rock had established a relationship with his mentor, Lincoln, that was the ultimate in trust. To have complete faith in someone is rare, but the respect, caring and commitment he had with Lincoln was just that, complete faith. Here’s how he describes that relationship:” And I don’t know whether I was naïve, gullible, or just knew what that meant to me, but I believed everything Lincoln told me. I believed him to the point where I did anything he asked me to do. And I did it out of respect for him. And I also did it out of – I knew he had my best interest.

Caring “Caring. That’s the simplest way to describe the characteristic that Kareem believes is most important in mentors, as well is in people. Life’s lessons – experience – has taught him to believe in the power of caring individuals and the impact they have on the lives of others. Remember when I asked Kareem to build the perfect mentor, his frst word was Caring. In this vignette he also talks about the love that his mentors and mentors in general must have to do the job. It’s also a euphemism for commitment:” Because if you didn't care, you wouldn't do what you do. So you all care. You all are determined to just leave something in that person who they talk to, who they mentor. I mean that's basically, if they care, then that's it. Because you have to have a love or a love or a caring need inside of you just to say, well, I just need to do my best, because I'm leaving somebody with something.

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“For others such as Rock, the act of caring shows how connected he becomes with his mentors. He truly seeks out and admires the best qualities that the mentors possess. I suspect part of this is due to the absence of his father. Thus, Black men who take the time to commit to him provide him with the emotional stability he seeks:” And but just the things that you all taught me, you know, and I felt like, being a male, especially being Black, you all had my best interests. And I think, for any young African-American male, the thing that they need to get to the next level is to know somebody that’s been there, that really cares about what they wanna do, and kinda guide them along the way.

Sharing “Dan and Adisa mentioned that being candid was the primary attribute they admired most in their current mentors. However, over the course of our conversations, it seemed that sharing was the more recurring theme, either from his relationship with their fathers or with other mentors. Sharing is really reciprocity. The give and take, the exchange of knowledge is paramount to the success of any relationship, but particularly a mentoring relationship. Sharing also speaks to trust in that both parties must be willing to provide information to the other that in most circumstances would remain hidden below the surface, reserved for only the closest of family and friends. Here is Dan's take,” His transparency has in a lot of ways overshadowed even the two mentors that I have mentioned, because of the fact his transparency…his willingness…to share his failings… “This from Adisa,” 225


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We talked often about careers and that was highly appreciated it, so I’ll say he doesn’t really try to tell me what to do, but he’ll try to share experience and hope that I understand and not get very confused on what to expect from those opportunities – I have a big vision of what I want to do in life. I’m on the frst step of many. Just unsure, uncertain. “That was the gist of what I found out from the Brothas. I mean there is more but its scattered all over the place, you know?” “I'm certain,” said the Soul, and then, “So you have found your recipe for the perfect mentor, have you?” “Of course not. I’ve done no such thing. What I’ve merely done is to fnd out from the protégés' perspective what characteristics and attributes attracted them to their mentor to begin with. These characteristics are not the end all, since for others they may not be important. Yet, when I reflect on the hours of talking and listening I had with these Black men, many of the characteristics were imbedded across the board. In other words, caring, sharing, love, and respect could be found in the conversations of more than one individual.” “I see,” he said. “Also, there has been some research done which speaks to the results that you’ve gotten from the Brothas. See Vernon Smith’s case study on the efects of caring on achievement. clxxiii Though the study focuses on Black teens, it does provide some connection with your results. So what’s your next move?” “Thanks, I’ll take a look at the study. As far as my next move, not sure, but I know I’ve benefted from the Brothas and your activist mentoring,” I said. “Who said I was a mentor?” he said, smiling (I think). “Come on, don’t play me. I know that’s what you’re here for, and quite frankly, I was seeking a mentor, so I’m glad you’re here.” 226


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“As I see it, the dream is really a journey of self discovery, and along for the ride is the mentor. He’s kind of like the driver’s education teacher. He helps you more by giving you that reassurance that he is there if you need him,” said the Soul. “Well,” I said, “I don’t quite see it that way. Yes, I agree it is a journey of self-discovery, as we’ve noted, but it’s much longer lasting and intimate than the driver education metaphor. I’d say the dream and the journey travelled with the mentor is really more like a marriage, where you choose your mate. In these relationships there is a genuine willingness to see the relationship succeed.” Pondering this for a minute, the Soul moved on. “OK, now that you’ve gathered all of this information, I want you to summarize it so that not only you can understand it, but other Brothas can as well. That book I was telling you about, well here’s the start, you have the tools, you understand the topic, you have the passion, now I want you to commit to the telling of the story.”

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CHAPTER 6 PASS IT ON! After a time, blacks who heard about, but had not actually gone through, the healing sessions began reading slave histories on their own and later were able to experience the change within themselves simply by seeing its powers working in other black people. All the “Marks of Oppression” –crime, addiction, self-hate- disappeared; and every black became obsessed by a ferce desire to compete, excel, and – as Booker T. Washington used to admonish – “prove thyself worthy.”clxxiv

“I want to say thanks to the Brothas for helping me understand a lot more about myself, about themselves, and about mentoring relationships among Black adult males. They have shared a great deal of information about themselves, and have helped me clarify things when I’ve been confused. I really care about them, and love the idea that Black men can communicate with each other intimately and with respect. I just hope I can keep my promise and have enough self-discipline to present their stories in a timely and accurate manner.” “I’m sure they all appreciate your gratitude and I am certain that you will fnish your part in this. Actually, much of what you wanted to know, you’ve found. There are some things you want to explore further, and there are others, which you thought you knew that have been either 228


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validated or debunked. As for writing their stories, you are farther along than you think,” said the Soul.

New Knowledge When I knocked over my chair a few days ago, trying to fgure out where a certain voice was coming from, I had no idea I was going to be gaining something. I thought I would be losing something, namely my wallet, my money or my life. But neither of those occurred. Instead I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge, some new and some old; needless to say the encounter changed my life. Considering my newfound awareness of Black identity development theory, I’ll use the post-pre encounter stages to highlight the diferent stages of knowledge passed along from the Soul and the Brothas. Encounter I found that I didn’t know a great deal about the origins of the psychological shackles that seem to plague the Black man. Addressing slavery as the key point in the intersection of African and Europeans made me aware of the sheer brutality of slavery and the humiliation it caused. My sanitized view of that period, while certainly not wine and roses was a long way from rape, murder, physical abuse, breeding, branding, and extreme psychological abuse. I was unaware of the moral and legal constructs that made White superiority so pervasive and omnipresent, the basis of what the Soul defned as racism. Recounting stories from slaves, though brief, was important; I wanted to read the story, even if only a very small fraction of the entire tale. If misery does indeed love company, then oppression is its name. Small liberating wonders were ofered, primarily using the big “B” versus the little “b” and the big “W” versus the little “w” and fnally the big “R” versus the little “r”, those are for Black, White and Racism. Each of these should be utilized in a clear, concise voice, to be heard, so that people may one day understand that when they discuss the little “b” and 229


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“w” it will only refer to color not people, and “r” will refer to some socioanthropological questions and concerns. But we’re in our infancy, in this regard, all of us are still “boys.” ‘The Soul’ defned racism for me, which in essence is a modifcation of Wellman's defnition.clxxv According to the Soul, racism is culturally sanctioned beliefs and practices which, regardless of the intentions involved, defend and enhance the advantages Whites have because of the subordinated positions of racial minorities. When the Soul brought in stories from thinkers and writers from the past and present -- Du Bois, Woodson, Ellison, Fanon, Bell, and others --those small entrees provided me with the knowledge that, regardless of the generation, Black men understood that their plight was a struggle that would persist. I was beginning to understand that Blackness is more than a color, more than acknowledgement of a few racial incidents, it’s an economic and psychological state where the White man has placed us, and defantly, despite all odds, the negativism, the racially imbalanced conditions, the continued rapes and murders, we remain. Proud and Loud – our voices won’t be silenced. Immersion-Emersion Through the works of Charles Thomas, William Cross and Bailey Jackson, I was introduced into the world of psychology. Not just psychology in general--for that is a huge animal and one that I’m not likely to explore--But rather the psychology of the Black state of mind, or Black identity. Their models of Black identity development, all rooted in the culturally, and perhaps psychologically aware period of the '60’s and '70’s, helped me to understand what I was experiencing regarding a renewed interest in Who Am I? and Who Am I Becoming? Without a black past, without a black future, it was impossible for me to live my blackness. 230


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Not yet white, no longer completely black, I was damned.clxxvi Negromachy, Nigrescence, and Locus of Control are terms that I’ve become familiar with and understand how they impact the self-identity of the Black male. They outlined theory which attempts to explain a Black man’s transition from a naïve state of mind regarding his Blackness, through marked stages, to a state of mind which is accepting and comfortable in his Blackness and his humanity. Along the way I was challenged by the Soul and the Brothas. They helped me understand that the African diaspora I have read about is not without issues and challenges, both racially and ethnically. We talked about the dual perception of the Black man. Is he the gifted athlete or the Great Black Dope? The psychological contrast was the dual bi-cultural dilemma of the Black man,clxxvii is he African or is he American or is he both (or neither)? Part of this knowledge includes Fanon, (whose revolutionary thoughts and ideas were coincidental to Malcolm X's and the Black Panther’s) who sought an independent state of mind for Black people. It made me come to terms with some of the issues I have been facing, one of which is, “Why is it that when a White girl goes missing it will always make local or national headlines? Black, Latina, or Asian? Almost never!” clxxviii What was really strong and important was the psychological linkage from slavery to identity. How did we get to be who and how we are? I began to run and think about what I was learning from the Soul and the readings and thoughts of others. What I found when I started running is that I was fenced in. How? Well, the system fenced me in. The four fences are the legal/criminal system; the educational system; the political system; and the economic system. In other words, “The System!” Fortunately, the Soul introduced me to critical race theory (CRT),

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which addresses the permanence of racism, interest convergence, critiques liberalism and color-blindness, and looks at history from a revisionist – non-white perspective, among other concepts. It also provides space for storytelling and counter storytelling where those of us who have not been able to tell the other side of the story – can tell it. Allegories, narratives, and other means or storytelling were given legitimacy, and used by legal, education, and other scholars to bring forth the hopes and dreams of other voices. clxxix CRT did not help me climb those fences completely, but it informed me of their existence, and provided insight to where the weak links might be in the future. Internalization The Soul talked a great deal about mentoring and fortunately the Brothas provided their stories, which showed that mentoring is education. In fact, the Soul provided me with his defnition of mentoring as a one-on-one relationship based upon trust, communication, respect, and commitment between two people of similar racial, gender, social, and cultural backgrounds. The purpose of the relationship is to educate and guide. Implied in this defnition is the concept of teaching and learning as part of the process of education.It’s reciprocal--this idea courtesy of Freire.clxxx Mentoring occurs often, in formal planned meeting arrangements in the workplace and in informal settings between two people who share similar ideas. Mentoring as a verb happens most often during what I’ve described as micromentoringopportunities, which is a play of of the racially motivated, microaggressions pontifcated by Sue, et.al. clxxxi Micromentoringopportunities are everyday deliberate or coincidental interactions between mentor and protégé, where communication occurs about a non-prescriptive event, and a cultural, racial, gender-specifc, or socially based opportunity exists for an exchange of knowledge - teaching and learning. This idea originated from the Soul’s introduction of “little 232


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moments” from Omatsu.clxxxii Yet, mentoring has many branches, formal and informal, as well as peer mentoring and what the Soul described as “activist” mentoring which has as its goal to increase awareness among protégés of the realities of racism, oppression and other inequities in our society and empower them to make changes to their psychosocial condition, through what Banks suggests is “transformative knowledge.” He taught me about the importance of having “standards” as a mentor and role model. It’s what you do and how you conduct yourself when you think nobody is looking at you. It’s taking on injustices in the workplace and other locales that help defne who you are, and for others, gives them a person to emulate. The idea that role modeling was another form of mentoring was rejected by the Soul. He believes that role models are everywhere and everyone at one time or another may in fact become one. The diference between a role model and mentor is the one-on-one connection that bonds the two. If and when a role model connects with a protégé, and they agree to a mentoring relationship as described above, then that person becomes a mentor. I brought up the idea that all mentors are role models, but not all role models are mentors. Black adult mentors help protégés see themselves, they are the reflections of what images the protégés want to portray now, and in the future. They are perhaps as Colin postulates, “Selfethnic Reflectors,” positive images of one’s own race.clxxxiii These Black adult mentors are educators, adult educators. While they may not have a formal practice as such, the informal relationship with the protégé helps knowledge or competence transfer during their interactions, whether it’s a planned event or a micromentoringopportunity. Commitment 233


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The Brothas provided me with the details of their lives, open and intimate. Who would have thought there was so much to be learned from the narratives of a barber, a teacher, a college student, a fnancial advisor, and a defense worker; a Haitian, an African, a Muslim, a Christian, and a Black man? Quite a lot, as it turns out. Each Brotha had been in or is currently actively involved in a mentoring-protégé relationship as a protégé. It was from their viewpoint and through the lens of Black identity development and critical race theory that I engaged them in dialogue, conversation, and storytelling. From those interactions a few things were made much clearer and a few things I learned. Listening to Rock and Adisa, I found out about the meaning of a “critical event” clxxxiv and how it impacts individuals. It reveals a change of understanding or worldview...It is almost always a change experience, and it can only be identifed afterwards. Rock understood the value of standards; those things that give you pride as well as make you do the right thing when no one else is looking. These are important in mentor-protégé relationships because it’s the trust factor that the Soul includes in his defnition; the glue that keeps the relationship bond in place. I used the characters from the Wizard of Ozclxxxv to describe Kareem’s respect for his mentors. They were streetwise, lionhearted, loveable and disciplined. His memories were fond, and really reminded him of the values instilled in him – at home. Most importantly, Kareem describes mentors as “Angels”, always looking out for you, ever present, perhaps a reflection of his deep Muslim beliefs and a carryover from his Christian upbringing. Adisa sees in his mentor a direct reflection of the self he wants to become. His mentor has the education, drive, diligence, and selfdiscipline to meet his goals and desires. Adisa strives to become that 234


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person. He chose to experience the Black hip-hop subculture, to excess it seems. Yet, as an outcome, his relationship with his father seemed to strengthen, giving him a newfound respect and admiration for the man he professed to have once “hated.” Your name means something; it is a part of who you are. When somebody says the name Daniel Barnes, he believes that’s a name that should represent strength, intelligence, and spirituality, those things that make him unique and proud. He values the Word – his religion, as well as The word – his education. R – e – s – p - e – c – t, much more than a lyric from the famous Aretha Franklin song, Respect,clxxxvi its really a song that impacted the world.clxxxvii So does respect impact the world of Pierre. Growing up in Brooklyn, NY, may have influenced his strong desire and demand to be respected. It could also be that growing up fatherless, regardless of the physical surroundings may have impacted his world view, he had to become a man much too quickly and that requires respect. Or it may have been his keen sense of fair play, something we all learn at a very young age, but not many of us practice beyond pre-adolescence. Commitment is more than just the ffth stage of the Cross model (internalization-commitment), its at the core of mentoring relationships. Commitment is the glue that holds everything together. Respect, trust, communication are all areas which are extremely important and without question are necessary for a long-term relationship to exist, but each can be breached and the relationship may still survive. Just think about it, even using the phrase ‘long term’ implies commitment, or ‘survive’ implies commitment. It’s like the last part of the vow of matrimony when the priest or judge says, “’til death do us part” which is the ultimate commitment.

Curiosity “That’s really great information. I’m proud of you for handling this 235


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situation so well.” It was the Soul, back from where I don’t know. “Under the circumstances, I had no choice. But, really, I’m very pleased that you came,” I said. “Did you get your questions answered?” “I did,” I responded. “Please share your thoughts.” “The Brothas in the study more or less defned success themselves, and without any strict defnitions or parameters, I would say that each viewed there opportunities for success limitless. They seem to have met their education, spiritual and career goals, or are heading in the right direction. The impact of the mentor has defnitely been a positive; it keeps them pursuing their dreams by providing a positive Black male role model. The relationships they have forged with current or past mentors have been informal. They evolved out of need, necessity, and dreams. They share information, care for each other, have mutual respect and admiration, they are committed. The mentors have served as guides and have provided positive reinforcements when necessary to keep the protégé focused on his goals, aspirations and desires. The impact the mentor has on the protégé is real and is long term. By having the ability to bounce of ideas, problems, situations, the protégés have indeed benefted and perhaps have made better decisions as a result. Image wise, the protégés all seemed to have a positive world view going into the relationship with the mentor and that seems to be a trait of the Black male, at least in this study, that they don’t lack a positive view of themselves, they may have a less than positive view of their place in the world. They had an internal locus of control. The mentor provides the looking glass so they can see that there is hope and possibility to achieve, to Dream.” “So, is that it? Nothing more that peaks your curiosity?” “They say that curiosity killed the cat,” I replied with a touch of

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humor in my voice. “They also say that satisfaction brought him back,” he retorted. He’s quick I thought. “Well, to be honest, there are a few areas that I would like to explore in the future. Yes,” I said. “Let me guess, one of them has to be your fascination with the relationships between Africans and Black Americans, correct?” “Absolutely. I want to know how Africans view us. Actually, how Caribbean’s view us as well and why is it they don’t view themselves as Black. I have a little theory floating around in my head…” I paused waiting for the green light to continue. “Let’s talk about it some other time, I’m interested. I have African and Caribbean friends I can ask to help you with that… hahahahahahahahahahah!” That laugh again. “Don’t worry, next time I show up you will be prepared,” he said, still snickering. “I am also interested in reversing this study and viewing it more from the perspective of the mentor as opposed to the protégé. Would the results be similar? How would they see themselves? Would they feel they are making a diference?” “That’s a worthy topic of study as well,” he said. “Finally, I’m intrigued by the fact that all of these men had what I believe is a very positive self-image, yet in general, Black men sufer from being number one as I mentioned in the introduction. I don’t get it, how can Black men have such a positive self-image and yet allow themselves to fall victim to the criminal justice system, HIV/AIDS, education, etc?” I asked rhetorically. “That’s a good one as well, but perhaps you’ve already answered that question in this study. Maybe those men don’t have a strong Black male – a father or in his absence a mentor – to help guide him to other

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possibilities, someone to help him channel that positive energy into a positive outcome. Yes, someone to help him Dream.” “Perhaps I have,” I said. “But having a strong sense of self-image does not necessarily equate to a strong sense of self-identity. Maybe, as you pointed out earlier, Black men are going through the incremental process of healing, and along with that, perhaps establishing a strong sense of self identity.” “Perhaps,” said the Soul. “Now what?” Suddenly, I could hear a knock on my door and a voice calling my name. “Are you OK?” the voice asked in an elevated tone. Somewhat startled, I gathered my thoughts and walked quickly to the door. As I looked through the peephole, I could see it was Delores. I opened the door, “Hey Delores, what’s up?” “Dude,” she said, “everyone is worried about you, you didn’t show up for class today and you didn’t answer your phone when Mack tried to call you. We were all concerned, we thought you might have gotten sick again.” Then she added, “I’m sorry for interrupting.” I quickly looked at my watch, it was approaching 2 pm on a Sunday afternoon, well beyond the time the weekend class would have ended and only a couple of hours before I had to board a flight back to Richmond. I looked up at Delores and smiled. “Come on in,” I said. “You’re not interrupting.” “No, I have to catch my flight in a couple of hours and am heading to the L station. I could have sworn I heard you talking to someone,” she said. I said to her, “I was just talking to myself.” “I guess this program will do that to you!” she said, not really understanding the dual meaning of those words.

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I simply replied, “Yes, it will, and ‘You’, won’t be surprised.” I struggled to pack my bags, and check out. Catching the CTA transit to the airport was actually rather peaceful. I had expected the Soul to pop in to at least say goodbye but that was not the case. I checked my luggage and made my way thru security and on board the aircraft with only a few minutes to spare. Fortunately, I had been lucky enough to get a frst class upgrade and sat in the frst row without someone next to me. Takeof had come and gone without incident, ten minutes later the flight attendant announced that all electronic devices could now be turned on except for cell phones and pagers. I got up and pulled my laptop out of the overhead, plugged in my headphones and started listening to the latest Kem cd. Suddenly, I heard a voice in my headphone, it was the Soul! He said, “Thought I was gone, huh? Well you’re almost there but not quite.” He went on to say, “I wouldn’t start talking back if I were you ‘cause these people are really going to freak out, so you have two options. One, you can sing your responses to me but I think it might be worse than talking, or two, which I strongly suggest is that you type in your responses if you have any. OK?” I did not have to think about that too much, I immediately typed in “OK!” That laugh again, this time straight in my ear at 35,000 feet. Then he started to type. “When we began this journey, we said we wanted to train an army of activist mentors, to give them a roadmap of sorts so that they could gain something from this exercise other than a bunch of big words and a few new concepts and ideas. They want something tangible. So, here’s the outline of the process for those Black men who want to establish informal mentoring relationships, either as a protégé or a mentor. For you, this is the second part of the three tenets of the program; this is how you show the world “What are the commitments embedded in my current

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practice.” “That will work,” I typed in.

The Soul began typing. Mentors should have a clear understanding of the following tenets: Know who you are. Become self aware, know your history, embrace the legacy of those African slaves who sufered for you and before you. Rejoice and celebrate the gains we have made, but be aware that racism is permanent, be unafraid to speak about and against racism, oppression and White supremacy, for these are truths. It’s OK to use the big ‘R’ and big ‘B’. Embedded in this is the concept of knowledge; observe, read, rejoice. Read about Frederick Douglass, Marcus Garvey, W.E.B Dubois, and other Black historical figures, these men were giants, know who they are. Stand for something. Always be at your best, whether in public or in private. Enjoy life and take advantage of it while embracing your heritage. Be vigilant and stand tall against racism and microaggressive behaviors. Break the stereotypical mode, but don’t lose your culture. Embrace high 240


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achievement, families, reading and writing. It’s not OK to be a ‘Nigger’ so take a stand against it. Where has it gotten us? Stand up against the system, let’s set a goal to get those incarceration rates down, HIV rates down, unemployment rates down, drop out rates down. And most importantly, be a Father, far too many of those Brothas who are incarcerated, with HIV, unemployed, and dropped out of school didn’t have Fathers. You are a role model. Respect your ‘Brothas’. Give them a little love, let them know that you care and be willing to share your feelings. Show respect for families and friends; women and children; mother and father. Respect your bodies, and their bodies. 15 kids, 7 women that’s gonna make you a man? It’s disrespectful to those women, the kids, me, and every other Black man. Respect opinions but be ready to disagree when necessary. Communicate with your Brothas. I mean real communication like the Brothas displayed during this study. Don’t be afraid of being judged and don’t judge. Talk to your children, talk to your wife. Make conversation relevant and not just about hollering and screaming. Talk to people and not at them. Trust in each other. Trust in the process and power of mentoring. Trust in a higher power, have faith. Trust that your mentor will guide you in the right direction, trust in the direction your protégé wants you to lead, they are the same. Trust your ability to lead and to follow. Don’t violate the confidence your mentor and protégé have placed in you. Educate each other. Plan opportunities to sit down and talk about specific ideas, goals, and aspirations. Be ready to capitalize on micromentoringopportunities they are always there. Educate yourself, how can you be a better person, a better leader, a better father, a better friend. Encourage formal and vocational education. Intervene and teach whenever and wherever possible. It’s OK to be smart. Commit. This is the foundation of any endeavor, to be committed to its

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conclusion. Does that mean a lifetime with the same protégé, perhaps, perhaps not, regardless the commitment has to be strong, it has to be unwavering and it has to be real. All of the Brothas implied that commitment, accountability, being there, were important – if not the most important – factors in maintaining the mentor-protégé relationship. Commit to yourself, you can fool others but when you look in the mirror, you know you can’t fool yourself. Commit to being a man; it’s also the most important step in the process of liberating the Black man from the throws of racism, oppression, and White superiority. A boy no more. It had been nearly an hour and a half, and the plane was beginning its fnal approach to Richmond. The signal came for all portable electronics to be turned to the of position, which included the usual. The Soul had just fnished typing ‘no more’ when I jumped in and typed, “So will I see you again?” I quickly backspaced and changed that to “will I hear from you again?” He replied, “Every time you look in the mirror and speak to somebody!” And then,“By now, you should have fgured out that you have become…” The flight attendant came up to me and gave me a pleasant yet stern look. I hit the power button and quickly placed the computer back in my luggage. When I arrived at the airport I sat down in the lounge area, pulled the computer from my bag, and powered it up. The Soul’s fnal word was, “Me!”

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BIBLIOGRAPHY i Frederick Patterson, Collected Thoughts (unpublished: September 2009). ii Tom Heaney, ed. Critical Engagement Project Manual (National-Louis University, 2003), 7. iii Ibid., 10. iv William Cross, “The Negro-to-Black Conversion Experience,” Black World (January 1, 1971); Bailey Jackson, “Black Identity Development,” Journal of Educational Diversity and Innovation 2 (1975): 19-25; Charles Thomas, Boys No More: A Black Psychologist’s View of Community (Beverly Hills: Glencoe Press, 1971). v Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prison Inmates at Midyear 2007 from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, (June 6, 2008), http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/pim07.htm. vi National Center for Educational Statistics, Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2007, (U.S. Government, National Center For Educational Statistics, December 1, 2010), http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2009/dropout07/tables/table_01.asp? referrer=report. vii Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Diagnosis of HIV Infection by Race/Ethnicity, (Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 27, 2010), http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/surveillance/basic.htm#hivaidsrace. viii Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey, Unemployment Data, (Seas) Unemployment Rate White; Black or African American, (Bureau of Labor Statistics, September 5, 2010), http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/surveymost. ix Molef Kete Asante, Afrocentricity: The Theory of Social Change. Rev 243


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Exp. (Chicago: African American Images, 2003), 65. x Thomas C. Shandley, “The Use of Mentors for Leadership Development,” NASPA Journal 27, no. 1 (January 1, 1989): 59-66. xi Kathryn M. Moore and Marilyn J. Amey, “Some Faculty Leaders Are Born Women,” New Directions for Student Services 44 (1988): 39-50. xii Herbert E.B.Coker, “The Impact of Cultural and Spiritual Mentoring on the Development of African American Young Adults in a Military Setting” (PhD diss., Oral Roberts University, 2002), 8. xiii Peggy McIntosh, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” Independent School (1990), http://www.rantcollective.net/article.php?id=74. xiv James A. Banks, “Transformative Challenges to the Social Science Disciplines: Implications for Social Studies Teaching and Learning,” Theory and Research in Social Education 23, no. 1 (Winter 1995): 2-20. xv Ibid., 6. xvi Michelle Jay, “Critical Race Theory, Multicultural Education, and the Hidden Curriculum of Hegemony,” Multicultural Perspectives 5, no. 4 (October 1, 2003). xvii Robert Staples, “Masculinity and Race: The Dual Dilemma of Black Men.,” Journal of Social Issues 34, no. 1 (Winter 1978): 170. xviii Scipio A J Colin III, “Cultural Literacy: Ethnocentrism vs Selfethnic Reflectors,” Thresholds in Education (November 1989). xix Stephen Brookfeld, The Power of Critical Theory : Liberating Adult Learning and Teaching (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005). xx Cheryl Harris, “Whiteness As Property,” Harvard Law Review 106, no. 8 (June 1993): 1709-95. xxi Mary Frances Berry, My Face Is Black Is True: Callie House and the Struggle for Ex-Slave Reparations (Vintage, 2006), 7. xxii Harris, “Whiteness As Property,” 1719. xxiii James Comer, “White Racism: Its Root, Form and Function,” in Boys

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No More: A Black Psychologist’s View of Community, ed. Charles Thomas, Glencoe Press Insight Series (Beverly Hills: Glencoe Press, 1971), 11. xxiv Carter G. Woodson, The Mis-Education of the Negro (New York: Classic House Books, 2008), 7. xxv Hugh Thomas, The Slave Trade : The Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1440-1870 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997). xxvi Derrick A. Bell, Faces At The Bottom of the Well : The Permanence of Racism (New York: BasicBooks, 1992); Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, Critical Race Theory : An Introduction (New York: University Press, 2001); Gloria Ladson-Billings, “Just what is critical race theory and what’s it doing in a nice feld like education?” International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 11, no. 1 (January 1, 1998): 7-24. xxvii Daniel Solorzano, Miguel Ceja, and Tara Yosso, “Critical Race Theory, Racial Microaggressions, and Campus Racial Climate: The Experiences of African American College Students,” Journal of Negro Education 69, no. 1-2 (2000): 60-73; DW Sue et al., “Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Implications for Clinical Practice,” American Psychologist 62, no. 4 (May 2007): 271-86. xxviii Sue et al., “Racial Microaggressions In Everyday Life,” 277. xxix Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, Revised. (Grove Press, 2008), 15. xxx Brookfeld, The Power of Critical Theory; Jennings and Lynn, “The House That Race Built: Critical Pedagogy, African-American Education, and the Re-Conceptualization of a Critical Race Pedagogy,” Educational Foundations Volume 19, no. 3-4 Summer/Fall (2005): 15-32; Gloria Ladson-Billings and William F. Tate, “Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education,” Teachers College Record 97 (1995). xxxi Comer, “White Racism: Its Root, Form and Function,” 16. xxxii Delgado and Stefancic, Critical Race Theory, 154. xxxiii David T. Wellman, Portraits of White Racism, 2nd ed. (Cambridge

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University Press, 1993). xxxiv Hugh F. Butts, “The black mask of humanity: Racial/ethnic discrimination and post-traumatic stress disorder,” Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law 30, no. 3 (2002): 336-339. xxxv Cross, “The Negro-to-Black Conversion Experience.” xxxvi Ibid. xxxvii Michael Jackson, Thriller, (1984). xxxviii Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 30th anniversary ed. (New York: Continuum, 2000), 28. xxxix Ibid., 30. xl Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski, Directors, The Matrix. 2007. xli John Ridley, “Missing White Girl Syndrome Ends Here,” The Huffington Post, June 11, 2007, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johnridley/missing-white-girl-syndro_b_51632.html. xlii Woodson, The Mis-education of the Negro, 7. xliii David Thomas, “Mentoring and Irrationality: The Role of Racial Taboos,” Human Resource Management 28, no. 2 (Summer 1989): 282. xliv Na’im Akbar, “Nigrescence and Identity: Some Limitations,” The Counseling Psychologist 17, no. 2 (April 1, 1989): 258-263; Cross, “The Negro-to-Black Conversion Experience”; Thomas A. Parham, “Cycles of Psychological Nigrescence,” The Counseling Psychologist 17, no. 2 (April 1989): 187-226. xlv Comer, “White Racism: Its Root, Form and Function,” 14. xlvi Thomas, Boys No More. xlvii Ibid., 17. xlviii Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, 17. xlix Olaudah Equiano, The Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African (I. Knapp, 1837). l Harris, “Whiteness As Property,” 1718. li Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896).

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lii Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk. liii Ibid., 175. liv Thomas, Boys No More, 103. lv Ibid., 104. lvi Norman Jewison, Director, A Soldier’s Story, 1984. lvii Charles H. Fuller, A Soldiers Play, 1981. lviii Thomas, Boys No More, 104. lix Charles Thomas, “Diferent Strokes for Diferent Folks,” Psychology Today 4, no. 4 (1970): 48-53, 78-80; Thomas, Boys No More. lx Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, xiv. lxi James Brown, Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud (King, 1968). lxii Cross, “The Negro-to-Black Conversion Experience”; William Cross, Shades of Black : Diversity in African-American Identity (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991); Thomas A. Parham, “Nigrescence: The Transformation of Black Consciousness Across the Life Cycle.,” Black Adult Development and Aging. (1989): 151-166. lxiii Cross, “The Negro-to-Black Conversion Experience”; William Cross, “Nigrescence: A Nondiaphanous Phenomenon,” Counseling Psychologist 17, no. 2 (April 1, 1989): 273-276. lxiv Cross, “The Negro-to-Black Conversion Experience,” 13. lxv Ibid. lxvi Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, 8. lxvii Cross, “The Negro-to-Black Conversion Experience,” 18. lxviii Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, 89. lxix Cross, “The Negro-to-Black Conversion Experience,” 21. lxx Derrick Bell, And We Are Not Saved : The Elusive Quest for Racial Justice (New York: Basic Books, 1987). lxxi Jackson, “Black Identity Development,” 20. lxxii Jackson, “Black Identity Development”; Bailey Jackson, “The Function of a Black Identity Development Theory in Achieving Relevance

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In Education for Black Students” (PhD diss. University of Massachusetts Amherst, 1976). lxxiii “Black Identity Development,” 20. lxxiv Ibid. lxxv Harris, “Whiteness As Property,” 1710. lxxvi Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man, 2nd ed. (New York: Vintage, 1952). lxxvii Ibid. lxxviii Jackson, “Black Identity Development,” 22. lxxix Louis Farrakhan, “Minister Louis Farrakhan’s Speech at the Million Man March” (Public Speech presented at the Million Man March, Day of Atonement, Washington, D.C., October 16, 1995), http://www.afn.org/~dks/race/farrakhan-e6.html. lxxx Nikki Giovanni, “Africa,” The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni., 1st ed. (New York: William Morrow and Co., 1996), 169, 170. lxxxi Jackson, “Black Identity Development.” lxxxii Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, 1. lxxxiii Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, 9. lxxxiv Jackson, “Black Identity Development.” lxxxv Thomas, Boys No More. lxxxvi Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 31. lxxxvii Geneva Gay, “Implications of Selected Models of Ethnic Identity Development for Educators,” Journal of Negro Education 54, no. 1 (1985): 43. lxxxviii Wade W. Nobles, “Psychological Nigrescence: An Afrocentric Review,” The Counseling Psychologist 17, no. 2 (April 1, 1989): 255. lxxxix Cross, “The Negro-to-Black Conversion Experience.” xc Nobles, “Psychological Nigrescence,” 188. xci Parham, “Cycles of Psychological Nigrescence.,” 211. xcii Nobles, “Psychological Nigrescence”; Parham, “Cycles of Psychological Nigrescence.”

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xciii Parham, “Cycles of Psychological Nigrescence.,” 211. xciv Ibid., 213. xcv Akbar, “Nigrescence and Identity,” 259. xcvi Thomas A. Parham and N. Lavada Austin, “Career development and African Americans: A Contextual Reappraisal Using the Nigrescence Construct.,” Journal of Vocational Behavior 44, no. 2, (April 1994): 139-154. xcvii Ibid., 140. xcviii Susan D. McMahon and Roderick J. Watts, “Ethnic Identity in urban African American youth: Exploring links with self-worth, aggression, and other psychosocial variables,” Journal of Community Psychology 30, no. 4 (July 2002): 411-431. xcix Ibid., 423. c Rita Hardiman and Bailey Jackson, “Racial Identity Development: Understanding Racial Dynamics in College Classrooms and on Campus,” New Directions for Teaching and Learning, no. 52 (1992): 21-37. ci Ibid., 23. cii Brookfeld, The Power of Critical Theory, 93. ciii Ibid., 96. civ Henry Giroux, “Theories of Reproduction and Resistance in the New Sociology of Education: A Critical Analysis,” Harvard Educational Review 53, no. 3 (August 1983): 258. cv Jay, “Critical Race Theory, Multicultural Education, and the Hidden Curriculum of Hegemony,” 7. cvi Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey. cvii National Center for Educational Statistics, Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States. cviii David Ashenfelter, M.L. Elrick, and Jennifer Dixon, “Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Indicted by Feds on 19 Mail Fraud, Tax Counts,” Detroit Free Press. June 24, 2010,

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http://www.freep.com/article/20100624/NEWS01/6240430/1321/FedsKilpatrick-looted-fund-dodged-taxes. cix Bureau of Justice Statistics, Bureau of Justice Statistics Criminal Ofenders Statistics, August 8, 2007, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/crimof.htm. cx Delgado and Stefancic, Critical Race Theory, 2. cxi Adrienne Dixson, “And We Are Still Not Saved: Critical Race Theory in Education Ten Years Later,” Race Ethnicity and Education 8, no. 1 (March 2005): 7-27. cxii Bell, And We Are Not Saved; Delgado and Stefancic, Critical Race Theory; Gloria Ladson-Billings, “Toward a Theory of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy,” American Educational Research Journal 32, no. 3 (January 1, 1995): 465-491. cxiii Darrick Hamilton and William Darity Jr., “Race, Wealth, and Intergenerational Poverty,” The American Prospect, September 2009. cxiv Peter Jackson, Director, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, 2002. cxv Bell, And We Are Not Saved. cxvi Ibid., 37. cxvii Francis Scott Key, The Star Spangled Banner, 1814, http://www.usaflag-site.org/song-lyrics/star-spangled-banner.shtml. cxviii Ladson-Billings and Tate, “Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education”; H Milner, “Critical Race Theory and Interest Convergence as Analytic Tools in Teacher Education Policies and Practices,” Journal of Teacher Education 59, no. 4 (2008): 332-346. cxix Ellison, Invisible Man. cxx Harris, “Whiteness As Property.” cxxi Ibid., 1721. cxxii Ladson-Billings, “Just what is critical race theory and what’s it doing in a nice feld like education?” 9.

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cxxiii W.E.B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880 (New York: Free Press, 1998). cxxiv Carole L. Lund, “The Nature of White Privilege in the Teaching and Training of Adults,” in “White Privilege and Racism : Perceptions and Actions,” eds. Carole L. Lund and Scipio A J Colin III, New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education 125 (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010), 16. cxxv Countee Cullen, “For a Poet,” Color (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1925). cxxvi Sean Courtney, “The History of Adult and Continuing Education,” in Handbook of Adult and Continuing Education, eds. Sharan B Merriam and Phyllis M. Cunningham, (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1989). cxxvii Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 53. cxxviii Paulo Freire et al., eds., “Mentoring the Mentor : A Critical Dialogue with Paulo Freire,” vol. 60, Counterpoints - Studies in the Postmodern Theory of Education (New York: P. Lang, 1997), xiv, xv. cxxix Glenn Omatsu, “Mentoring as the‘Giving and Receiving of Wisdom’: Breaking the Chains of Colonialism on Our Hearts, Minds, and Souls” (Unpublished, 2010), 1-22, www.csun.edu/afye/documents/Anticolonial-mentoring-Omatsu-accessible-PDF.pdf. cxxx Ibid., 19. cxxxi Sarah A. Hezlett and Sharon K. Gibson, “Mentoring and Human Resource Development: Where We Are and Where We Need to Go,” Advances in Developing Human Resources 7, no. 4 (November 1, 2005): 446-469. cxxxii Ibid. cxxxiii Eileen Shapiro, Florence Haseltine, and Mary Rowe, “Moving Up: Role Models, Mentors, and the Patron System,” Sloan Management Review 19, no. 3 (Spring 1978): 51-58. cxxxiv Winston E. Gooden,“Development of Black Men In Early Adulthood,” in Black Adult Development and Aging, ed. Reginald L . Jones

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(1989): 63-89. cxxxv David Thomas, “The Truth About Mentoring Minorities: Race Matters,” Harvard Business Review, 79 (2001): 104. cxxxvi Wesley C. Long and Courtney Ann Farr, “Lost and Found: Reflections on Identity and Success from Six Black Men,” Urban Education 26, no. 3 (October 1, 1991): 310-326. cxxxvii Bruce LaVant, John Anderson, and Joseph Tiggs, “Retaining African American Men Through Mentoring Initiatives.,” New Directions for Student Services, no. 80 (Winter 1997): 45. cxxxviii Catherine A. Hansman, “Who Plans? Who Participates? Critically Examining Mentoring Programs” (paper presented at the 42 nd Adult Education Research Conference , June 2001). For full text: http://www.edst.educ.ubc.ca/aerc/2001/2001hansman.htm. cxxxix Ibid., 164. cxl Rain Newbold-Coco, “A Mixed-Method Analysis of the Perceived Benefts Gained From Mentoring For African American Female Professionals” (PhD diss. Capella University, 2006), 22. cxli Warren Braden, Homies : A Study of Peer-Mentoring Among AfricanAmerican Males in Chicago in Relation to Adult Education (LEPS Press, Northern Illinois University, 1993). cxlii Tarek Grantham, “Multicultural Mentoring to Increase Black Male Representation in Gifted Programs,” Gifted Child Quarterly 48, no. 3 (July 1, 2004): 233, 234. cxliii Glenn Omatsu, “Mentoring as the‘Giving and Receiving of Wisdom’ cxliv Ibid., 2. cxlv Harlan E. Ballard, “An Exploration into Success Factors of African American Males Who Obtained Terminal Degrees from Majority White Institutions” (PhD diss. The University of Oklahoma, 2006); Braden, Homies; Coker, “The Impact of Cultural and Spiritual Mentoring on the Development of African American Young Adults in a Military Setting”;

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Gooden, “Development of Black Men in Early Adulthood”; Grantham, “Multicultural Mentoring to Increase Black Male Representation in Gifted Programs”; LaVant, Anderson, and Tiggs, “Retaining African American Men Through Mentoring Initiatives.”; Darryl S. Tukufu, A Guide toward the Successful Development of African-American Males., 1997. cxlvi Gooden, “Development of Black men in early adulthood.” cxlvii Thomas, “Mentoring and Irrationality: The Role of Racial Taboos.” cxlviii Vernon Smith, “The Efects of Caring on the Achievement of African American Males: Case Studies,” Challenge: A Journal of Research on African American Men 8, no. 1 (1997): 3. cxlix Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, 114. cl Catherine Riessman, Narrative Analysis, 2nd ed. (Newbury Park Calif. [u.a.]: Sage Publ., 1994). cli Leonard Webster and Patricie Mertova, Using Narrative Inquiry as a Research Method: An Introduction to Using Critical Event Narrative Analysis in Research on Learning and Teaching (Abingdon, New York: Routledge, 2007). clii Donald Polkinghorne, Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences, (SUNY Press, 1988). cliii Merriam-Webster, Inc., Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. (Springfeld: Merriam-Webster Inc., 2003). cliv Bailey Jackson, “Black Identity Develolpment: Further Analysis and Elaboration,” in New Perspectives On Racial Identity Development : A Theoretical and Practical Anthology, ed. Charmaine L. Wijeyesinghe and Bailey W. Jackson (New York: New York University Press, 2001), 25. clv Webster and Mertova, Using Narrative Inquiry as a Research Method, 73, 74. clvi Leswin Laubscher, “Toward a (De)constructive Psychology of African American Men,” Journal of Black Psychology 31, no. 2 (May 1, 2005): 122.

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clvii Langston Hughes, The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, 1st ed. (New York: Vintage, 1995). clviii Charles E. Drebing and Winston E. Gooden, “The Impact of the Dream of Mental Health Functioning in the Male Midlife Transition,” International Journal of Aging & Human Development 32, no. 4 (1991): 278. clix Gooden, “Development of Black Men in Early Adulthood,” 65. clx Ibid. clxi Long and Farr, “Lost and Found,” 317. clxii Gooden, “Development of Black Men in Early Adulthood,” 68. clxiii Merriam-Webster, Inc., Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. clxiv Harvey Neufeldt and Leo McGee, eds., Education of the African American Adult : An Historical Overview (New York: Greenwood Press, 1990). clxv Freire et al., Mentoring the Mentor, 60:. clxvi Angela Brew, “Unlearning Through Experience,” in Using Experience for Learning (Buckingham [England];Bristol PA: Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press, 1993), 97. clxvii Cross, “Nigrescence: A Nondiaphanous Phenomenon.” clxviii Parham and Austin, “Career Development and African Americans,” 147. clxix Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 126. clxx McIntosh, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” clxxi Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks. clxxii Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 126. clxxiii Smith, “The Efects of Caring on the Achievement of African American Males.” clxxiv Bell, And We Are Not Saved, 218. clxxv Wellman, Portraits of White Racism. clxxvi Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, 117.

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clxxvii Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk. clxxviii Ridley, “Missing White Girl Syndrome Ends Here.” clxxix Bell, Faces at the Bottom of the Well; Bell, And We Are Not Saved; Delgado and Stefancic, Critical Race Theory; Ladson-Billings and Tate, “Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education”; Daniel G. Solorzano and Tara J. Yosso, “Critical Race Methodology: Counter-Storytelling as an Analytical Framework for Education Research,” Qualitative Inquiry 8, no. 1 (February 1, 2002): 23-44. clxxx Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. clxxxi Sue et al., “Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life.” clxxxii Omatsu, “Mentoring as the ‘Giving and Receiving of Wisdom’: Breaking the Chains of Colonialism on Our Hearts, Minds, and Souls.” clxxxiii Colin, “Cultural Literacy: Ethnocentrism Vs Selfethnic Reflectors.” clxxxiv Webster and Mertova, Using Narrative Inquiry as a Research Method. clxxxv Victor Fleming, Director, The Wizard of Oz (1939). clxxxvi Aretha Franklin, Respect, CD single (1967) clxxxvii Greg Hall, “Impact! Songs That Changed The World: Aretha Franklin - Respect” / John Phillips, Smokey Robinson, Annie Lennox (Standing Room Only, 2007).

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Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them

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Now I Can Dream: Adult Black Males and the Mentors That Saved Them  

Patterson developed the book idea while exploring suggestions for his adult and continuing education dissertation. “While researching, I dis...

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