For those who do not know what the “Talented Tenth” is, here is a quick reference for you:
The Talented Tenth” was an essay written by scholar, writer, social activists and CAU Professor W.E.B. Du Bois that discussed the idea that the African American class would need to cultivate a class of exceptional leaders through classical education to empower the African American community.
In the time that this was written, it made great sense. African Americans were not allowed to receive an higher education, access to adequate housing, or any type of support. Now, that we have those opportunities, but there are bigger issues stopping us from become our best selves. The first being the potential financial burden that comes along with going to college. The other being the lack of reaching back in the African American community to pull up others.
From personal experience, I have found the hardest time to identify mentors that are truly invested in me and are willing to truly help me grow. I have sort of been winging it since I graduated in 2014. I have reached out to friends and colleagues looking for new mentors, but maybe I’m too picky. Unfortunately, there is a huge gap in identifying mentors that understand my “millennial snowflake” ideals. I mean I have options for mentors, but they all lack something that causes me not to fully trust them. In all honesty, I do not look up to non-black people because they do not truly understand my struggle. Being that I identify as being queer, having heterosexual mentors means that they may see my inner struggle but do not connect with me fully. (Hell, identifying as queer makes it difficult to have homosexual mentors.) Finally, there is the fact I grew up in the hood in Louisiana and “Made it”. So there is a big gap in understand struggle and perseverance at work. AND DON'T GET ME STARTED ON POLITICS! I have found great people who could have been great mentors, but some of their political views are too opposite of mine. I’m stubborn, so I will take your advice in through one ear and out the other. I pretty much need to meet another version of myself but like 10 to 15 years older than me.
Since 2016, the black community has been experiencing a true resurgence of black achievement and yet I can not find a mentor.
I think what is more depressing, is the lack of black people who willing to mentor younger black individuals in their field of expertise. There has been multiple occasions where have reached out to individuals to potential mentor friends/associates, colleagues. Nothing major, just allow them to soak up as much knowledge from this person as possible when it is convenient, maybe a monthly chat or email at most. It’s a damn shame how many either said “no” or they were too busy, the biggest slap in the face for me was if i asked them for recommendations of other people and THEY SUPPOSEDLY KNEW NO ONE. So NO ONE you know in your job field would be willing to mentor someone. These people or so “busy”, they can not afford to take 10 minutes to look at their LinkedIn for some that could help me help someone else. It is so disheartening to see that we have gotten to this point.
We live in a world where society despises that African Americans are successful. We live in a world where microaggressions makes it difficult to work because people do not realize what they do and African Americans can not talk about it to avoid being the “Angry Black” in the office. We can not have to work twice as hard to get half of what they get and still have to worry about being shot by a cop for literally breathing. We live in a world where we have to do all of this and the hand that may reach out to pull you up may want to let go because they do not like the fact that you do not have the same political views, you are part of the LBGT community or you have just have disagreeing opinions.
I hope the future generations get this right...