APRIL 13, 2018
BY: BRIAN SALES, DIRECTOR OF TRAINING AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE, MENTOR: THE NATIONAL MENTORING PARTNERSHIP
During my work in the formal mentoring field and youth development, I have surprisingly seen little research incorporating culturally responsive frameworks for mentoring youth of color. Seemingly, much of the mentoring research continues to remain void of references that illustrate the unique and historical coping strategies symbolizing the strength and resilience of people of color, Black people in particular. Since the largest number of identified youth in MENTOR’s: Examining Youth Services Across America report reports over 75% of the children and youth served are youth of color and 30% are African-American, my observation is even more distressing.
Whether working in small cities or culturally diverse suburbs, I also noticed programmatic approaches that were often “deficit based” and “culturally irrelevant” to the communities being served. Instead of identifying, incorporating, and celebrating the individualized coping skills and community-based adaptations developed by African American communities, many of these approaches were over-focused on prevention and intervention. As a result, I found refuge in reviewing and utilizing the practice-based curriculum about the African-centered rites of passage from experts, e.g. Paul Hill, Dr. Nsenga Warfield-Coppock and a dissertation by Dr. Keith Alford.