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Mentoring: An African-American Tradition

When the subject of a conversation turns to rich culture and traditions, African-Americans should be a part of that discussion. With the perilous voyage of our African ancestors to the Great Americas, we as a people have endured so much—poverty, discrimination, racism and numerous acts of violence.

Our new home in America, as it seemed, had waged war against a people and despite it all, we remained resilient. Today, as the descendants of a different nation, it is imperative that we as African Americans uphold those traditions that have bonded our culture for hundreds of years. Just looking at how African-Americans survived slavery and the intolerance against them, you would think others would grow to respect our people group. Sadly, it has been quite the contrary.

But what made us pliant to all these trials? Was it keeping our African culture and traditions? If so, how did these traditions reach modern day African-American kids? Handing down these customs to younger generations meant having someone teach the ways of the old. This is where mentoring comes in.

"Mentoring is simply defined as a process where an experienced individual gives support and encouragement to a person who has less experience."

The mentor then serves as the advisor though his example and guidance. Mentoring could be informal or formal. With formal mentoring among African-Americans, the mentor could be the guide of the student on his academic works. He could also guide the student to community affairs which aim to maintain their traditions through several factors such as religion, music, poetry, and others. It could also be as serious as coping with racial discrimination and how to be confident despite the environmental circumstances. With informal mentoring, it could simply mean teaching time management or networking with the same groups of people.

But what are the traditions that need to be handed down to the next generation? Looking at the younger generations of African-Americans now, we can conclude that they have gone a long way and have improved immensely in all aspects. Confidence and self-worth is a great part of African American mentoring. What is there to be ashamed about their culture anyway? They are a great people and they value close family ties, respect for the elderly and they excel in arts and sports.

With the need for mentoring, specifically among young black men, the Urban Ranger Corps (URC) of Kansas City, MO has been mentoring boys and young men for more than 15 years. Mentoring is an essential duty of this organization. One of many initiatives of their program is to mentor young men beginning in 7th grade through post-secondary education.

URC is a holistic program that guides young men through some rites of passage which includes preparation of the males for their manhood. They also cover aspects of heritage, family, etiquette, survival and other skills, and including faith. Workforce development, community involvement and tutoring are also essential parts of the learning process.

By taking part in such mentoring activities, the young African American would develop better understanding of his culture. Pride and self-esteem would also be established without disrespecting other cultures or race.

The mentoring process, in general, teaches respect and appreciation for the African-American culture. By knowing the rich history and contemporary assets of our ancestry, they are better able to keep and protect what rightfully belongs to them which no amount of slavery would be able to corrupt.

For more information about the Urban Ranger Corps visist or email

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