Will I be Able to Understand My Mentee? Examining the Potential Risk of the Dominant Culture Mentoring Marginalized Youth
Most people would agree they want to live in a world where every child has what he or she needs to thrive and grow into a healthy and productive adult. It is estimated that 5,000 mentoring programs serve 3,000,000 youth in the United States alone (DuBois, Portillo, Rhodes, Silverthorn, & Valentine, 2011). In many of these programs, a majority of the mentors are matched with a mentee who comes from a culture and community they know very little about. Many of the youth development programs that were founded and implemented by people of the perceived dominant culture represent their values and cultural experience. To look more deeply into this, my primary research included seven one-on-one interviews with experienced youth workers, most who currently work at a community or site-based mentoring program. This article is a summary of their responses and reflections on the potential risks invovled in matching across culture and considers how we might work together to mitigate these risks for the youth we serve.
Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2014). Race for results: Building a path to opportunity for all children. (Kids count policy report). Baltimore, MD. Retrieved from http://www.aecf.org/resources/race-for-results
Burrell, T. (2010). Brainwashed: Challenging the myth of black inferiority. New York: Smiley Books.
Darling, N., Bogat, A. G., Cavell, T. A., Murphy, S., & Sanchez, B. (2006). Gender, ethnicity, development, and risk: Mentoring and the consideration of individual differences. Journal of Community Psychology, 34(6), 765-779. DOI: 10.1002/jcop.20128
DuBois, D. L., Portillo, N., Rhodes, J., Silverthorn, N., & Valentine, J. C. (2011). How effective are mentoring programs for youth? A systematic assessment of the evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 12(2), 57–91. DOI: 10.1177/1529100611414806
Freire, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum Books.
Gorski, P. (2010). Unlearning deficit ideology and the scornful gaze: Thoughts on authenticating the class discourse in education. Retrieved from EdChange website: http://www.edchange.org/publications/deficit-ideology-scornful-gaze.pdf
Hayashi, Y., & O’Donnell, C. R. (n.d.). A review of mentoring studies and websites: A report for the Melissa Institute for the prevention and treatment of violence. Retrieved from Melissa Institute website: http://www.melissainstitute.org/documents/TMI_Mentoring_Report51-2.pd
Jekielek, S. M., Moore, K. A., Hair, E. C., & Scarupa, H. (2002). Mentoring: A promising strategy for youth development. (Research Brief No. 2002-21). Retrieved from Child Trends website: http://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2002/02/MentoringRB.pdf
Kunjufu, J. (1985). Countering the conspiracy to destroy black boys. Sauk Village, IL: African American Images.
Landsman, J. (2004). Confronting the racism of low expectations. Educational Leadership, closing the achievement gap. 62( 3), 28-32 . Retrieved from http://ipsdweb.ipsd.org/uploads/PDAC/Confronting_the_Racism_of_Low_Expectations.pdf
Liang, B., & West, J. (2006). Youth mentoring: Do race and ethnicity really matter? Research in Action Series, Issue 9. Retrieved from MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership website: http://www.mentoring.org/downloads/mentoring_390.pdf
Miller, D. (2008). Man up: Recruiting and retaining African American male mentors. Retrieved from http://www.urbanyouth.org/docs/AfricanAmericanMalePerspectivesOnMentoring_08.pdf
National Mentoring Working Group. (1991). Mentoring: Elements of effective practice. Washington DC: National Mentoring Partnership.
Palmer, N. (2013). White supremacy: Not just the Neo-Nazis. Retrieved from Sociology in Focus website: http://www.sociologyinfocus.com/2013/04/08/white-supremacy-not-just-neo-nazis
Renn, K. A. (2012). Creating and re-creating race: The emergence of racial identity as a critical element in psychological, sociological, and ecological perspectives on human development. In C. L. Wijeyesinghe, & B. W. III, New Perspectives on racial identity development (pp. 11-32). New York: New York University Press.
Stockslager, E. (2013). Supporting minority students through mentoring: Best practices for formal mentoring programs. (Master’s thesis.) Retrieved from: http://ecommons.luc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2855&context=luc_theses
Swayze, D., & Buskovick, D. (2012). On the level: Disproportionate minority contact in Minnesota's juvenile justice system. St Paul, MN: Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- The Author retains copyright in the Work, where the term “Work” shall include all digital objects that may result in subsequent electronic publication or distribution.
- Upon acceptance of the Work, the author shall grant to the Publisher the right of first publication of the Work.
- The Author shall grant to the Publisher and its agents the nonexclusive perpetual right and license to publish, archive, and make accessible the Work in whole or in part in all forms of media now or hereafter known under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License or its equivalent, which, for the avoidance of doubt, allows others to copy, distribute, and transmit the Work under the following conditions:
- Attribution—other users must attribute the Work in the manner specified by the author as indicated on the journal Web site;
- The Author is able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the nonexclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the Work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), as long as there is provided in the document an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post online a prepublication manuscript (but not the Publisher’s final formatted PDF version of the Work) in institutional repositories or on their Websites prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work. Any such posting made before acceptance and publication of the Work shall be updated upon publication to include a reference to the Publisher-assigned DOI (Digital Object Identifier) and a link to the online abstract for the final published Work in the Journal.
- Upon Publisher’s request, the Author agrees to furnish promptly to Publisher, at the Author’s own expense, written evidence of the permissions, licenses, and consents for use of third-party material included within the Work, except as determined by Publisher to be covered by the principles of Fair Use.
- The Author represents and warrants that:
- the Work is the Author’s original work;
- the Author has not transferred, and will not transfer, exclusive rights in the Work to any third party;
- the Work is not pending review or under consideration by another publisher;
- the Work has not previously been published;
- the Work contains no misrepresentation or infringement of the Work or property of other authors or third parties; and
- the Work contains no libel, invasion of privacy, or other unlawful matter.
- The Author agrees to indemnify and hold Publisher harmless from Author’s breach of the representations and warranties contained in Paragraph 6 above, as well as any claim or proceeding relating to Publisher’s use and publication of any content contained in the Work, including third-party content.
Revised 7/16/2018. Revision Description: Removed outdated link.