Tag Archives: mentoring

Houston, We’ve made Contact – BEDA Day 5 of 31

Houston, We’ve Made Contact!

(The story behind meeting my first reader)

BEDA Day 5 of 31

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So. Out of the blue.

A reader friend emailed me and asked to link up.

I was shocked man! That’s never happened before.

Like I see the numbers and the ticker behind here move with the different posts. But I never really imagined folks were reading and following the journey like that.

Part of me didn’t feel worthy. Like do you know that this is just me? Little ole me. Little Paladin from Chicago.

He said my blog had helped him through his first year teaching. And that my voice, our voices were something that was missing from the scene.

Man, I’m SO thirsty to find those voices past and present that match my own. Those voices that create the noise that I want and need to hear. The voices that break through the jungle and clear a path that help all of us grow.

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I am absolutely down to meet up and link with you bro!Tell me when and tell me where.

He was here in Brooklyn, and we set up to meet the very next day. Which happened to be yesterday.We decided on a small coffee shop here by the Brooklyn Museum. I was of course running late so I hopped in a cab, that dropped me at the corner instead of my destination. At first I was having a hard time finding the exact…. spot I was supposed to be. After a couple minutes of orienting myself I finally stepped into the deep bodied Breukelen Coffee House.

 

There at a small table sat the young black man. We shook hands, smiled, and introduced each other by our first names. I was definitely nervous. And I don’t get nervous for much.

I asked him to repeat how he pronounced his name. It was an interesting combination of sounds. But I locked it in my mind and finally felt composed enough for whatever was to follow.

My reader friend is a second year teacher. He said that my voice resonated with him as a first year teacher. I was shocked because I knew I half-way hadn’t posted, consistently, in over 2 years. I didn’t feel worthy of his praise and attention.

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I was felt smiley and giggly, and nervous and anxious, fidgety and somewhere toward the end of our 15 to 20 minute encounter I say I finally found my confidence and transitioned to my normal long winded, overly confident self. It’s kinda my thing if y’all haven’t noticed, LoL

He said my blog had answered many of his initial questions.
He had questions written in his phone.
He asked me about my thoughts and reflections as an educator.
He asked about advice I would give him going into his second year.
He asked me about the future of the blog.
To which… I shared there are immediate plans to update my online presence. 

He seemed like he had his shit to-gether!

It was so surreal y’all. So so so surreal. (Reflecting back… it’s such a blessing)

I wanna create that feeling and that connection a million times over. I wasn’t ready. Or better yet, I was caught off guard. But I will be better prepared next time.

Is it selfish of me to want y’all, my peers to have that moment a million times over, too? Pause for the people that do already. But, can’t we all do more to pave the road for our…future selves?

At one point my reader friend said that he had thought about creating a space to discuss and share his own journey. He stumbled on my blog and didn’t feel the need to do that anymore. This was actually the moment that I pulled myself out of that magical trance-like state I was in. I implored that it was still important for him to create the spaces he thought were missing.

It’s our mission. I want to challenge all my peers to do so in some way.

Leave your mark. Give us a journey we can follow.

We want to follow it!

I promise you we do.

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Message to Lil Homie: You ‘re the answer bro! You are so ready and are so powerful and knowledgeable already just even in who you are. You absolutely are giving your students the powerful education and leadership they need and deserve. Teaching gets better. But also you must get better! Perfect your learner self. Perfect your teacher self.

That Black Men’s Group you want to run. Here are the books you may want to use for programming and curriculum.

Courtland Lee, Saving the Native Son: Empowerment Strategies for Young Black Males – Has ready to go curricula for individuals looking to facilitate groups for Black men and boys of all ages.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me – Great Narrative that can be used to dissect and discuss America and its cultures of Blackness and Whiteness.

Keep reaching out to learn from those that inspire you. That is the move that shows me that you’re great!

Much Respect!
Paladin

Teacher, Tell Me about Life and Niggers

Teacher, Tell Me about Life and Niggers:

A classroom and email conversation with two Black-Male students

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I recently received an email from a Black male student asking me to explain life to him. He’s an older student and this is the first time I’ve taught him at the school. This was a first time I’ve had a student reach out for such poignant information. The following day, before I could respond, he told me that he and a friend, also in my class, were riding the train the night before talking to each other, and they kept saying the word Nigga.

Somewhere through the journey they confessed having made an older woman cry due to their reckless public vulgarity. It was then that I found out why my student had reached out to me about life the evening before.

Both students told me inconsistent stories about the events as they happened in real time, jokingly placing blame on each other, in a denial-deflection-comedic-confession with each other.

In the moment, there was work to be done, so, I expressed sincere dissappointment in their actions and inability to manage their behavior in context, and specifically with regard to the elder, then redirected them to their work with intentions to reply in detail via email.

The following was my email response:

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What’s up y’all.

Ok, my bad that it’s taken me so long to respond. I wanted to make sure I sent something thoughtful back. Here’s some feedback.

Nigga Response

It’s a dreadful word. It’s used to describe a group of people stolen from their land, and bred to be enslaved-captured people here in the American continents. The African people when I visited don’t call themselves nigga. The enslaved Africans were renamed Negroes by the European and other geographic people. It has been so ingrained that those African people have now taken to calling themselves Negroes instead of what they truly were and are. That’s why it’s a bad thing to hear so many Black/African people say Negroes/Nigga/Niqqa/Nicca. It’s a word of negativity and weakenss. The moment you stop calling yourself and your loved ones that word you start to get a stronger grip on the world, your history, and your role now in it. I hope that made sense. Here is a link to some phrases/meanings of negro throughout our recent history. I found this really useful for my own knowledge about 4 years ago.

I view y’all as so much more than niggers, niggas, you know all the spellings. In real life, I view myself as a young King. Everyday Paladin, the young King walks into the classroom. Everyday I’m greeted by young Warriors [Student 1] and [Student 2]. But as long as you’re calling yourself a nigger you’re never going to realize that. Nigger and King are opposites. Nigger and Warrior are opposites. Nigger and whatever you want to be known as are probably opposites.

The lady was probably mortified that y’all couldn’t edit the word out even if you tried. I get really sad too when I see kids out and they just can’t control it. We’ve been taught to say it. It has power over you. And that’s not good bro. But the good thing is it’s easy to stop. You just have to choose a different word to say. In college my frat brother started saying ninja, then we all started saying ninja. Then somewhere along the line I started saying homie. Now I even say bro. I say fam. I even say King. Choose something and roll with it. I try my absolute best not to call people that I love nigga.

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Fashion –

Y’all ask me and I never really remember in the moment. I get a lot of stuff from thrift stores. My regular stuff is from Levis, American Apparel, Uniqlo, Urban Outfitters, stuff I see on Instagram, and sometimes the vendors on the streets. I normally check the sales. But will spend real money every once and a while for stuff that will last like jackets, bookbags, and boots. I rarely pay over 50 for a shirt or pants. Normally never more than 70 for shoes. Anything more prolly just isn’t worth it. Watch your money and save your money. A lot of my stuff is like 5 to 10 years old. When you buy stuff that fits well it lasts longer in my opinion.

Tutoring Time –

I’m available everyday during lunch:

  • Monday/Wednesday/Friday – [Location] – Lunch
  • Tuesday/Thursday – [Location] –  Lunch

I also try to stay after school for at least 20 to 30 minutes trying to cool down and wrap up loose ends of the day. If no one comes I bounce. I hustle outside of work and get tired if I’m not on the move. Trust y’all are always welcome to tutoring and after school-time. Just come, and we’ll find something to do.

Hustle

Y’all are smart. Y’all run the yard and I love it. But I need you both to step it up. You both set the tone for everyone else. I need you guys to work with me & [Co-teacher] in the classroom. Drive the attention to the learning. You aren’t horrible, but you aren’t hustling either. I need you both grabbing these knowledge points. Right now and even if you don’t have me anymore. You both have talent and like a team I need you to push your squad, and me and [Co-teacher], the coaches. Push your talents on the basketball court and in my classroom please. I definitely am trying to bring you my A+ work and I need y’all to help me be great by doing the same please.
Football-Training 

I’m long winded. Enjoy your weekends. Be safe.

P

Call to Successful Black Man – 2

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Call to Successful Black Man – 2

By: Quinton Mudd
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A continuation of our conversation about the duties of successful Black men in today’s American (global) society.

Missed part 1 – Check it out here

We express our love through our actions and each action should always be inspired by care and concern. To love is to put the well-being of those you care for on the same level as your own well-being. This society has trained us to put our individualistic desires before the needs of the common folk and that is detrimental to any society. An expression of love is an attempt towards unity. Division is crippling and nothing divided in many parts can ever become one. A divided family, community, corporation, team cannot reach its fullest potential.

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Standing vs. Sitting

Sometimes you disgust me. You’ll spend 6 hours in a club in one night but can’t spend a few hours a month helping mold your future.  This “I don’t have time to give back” excuse that many of us use is just no longer acceptable.

You’ll brag about how successful you are and how far you’ve climbed the corporate ladder, yet you won’t use any of your time to give the knowledge you’ve acquired to assist others that are in need of the guidance you can provide.

Most of you Black men are probably being underpaid because you do more work than the higher ups are willing to compensate you for. They know they can underpay you because they know that you’re dependent upon them. You’re probably one of the few if not the only Black male at the office so you feel you have to work twice as hard as your meager salary suggests because you want to show boss that you’re not like the “rest of them.”

Nevertheless, you probably trick yourself into saying that you love what you do but deep within you know that there is more to life than your profession. You look at the world and you see how it’s functioning. You see injustices and even if you don’t consciously speak on them, your soul is telling you that something is wrong. Something within you is telling you that you can and should be doing more.

You’re probably afraid of identifying with the youth (who you once were) because you don’t want to be associated with the imperfections of youthfulness and inexperience. You think you’ve made it, but in actuality, the world only sees you as a nigger with a suit on.

You see how our young Black boys are treated by others and unfortunately Black boys have been beaten to the point of devaluing themselves. It hurt you to hear about Trayvon Martin. You may have changed your facebook profile to a picture with you in a hoody to show your support but you knew deep within that there was more for you to do. It pains you to hear about the Black-on-Black killings that have been happening in cities all across the Western-hemisphere.

Every time you feel pain within, your soul is speaking to you and telling you to do more. Your soul is telling you to take your rightful position in your community and in this world. You are supposed to be doing more and you know it. Let’s start with mentoring. We will build off of that.

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A Knock at Midnight

Your words may not completely change the minds of those that you mentor but that doesn’t mean that your words won’t influence them. It doesn’t mean that your words won’t challenge his traditional way of thinking. Your presence will positively affect them if you approach them with humility and a willingness to show them that you care.

Many of you say that you haven’t reached the point in life where you feel comfortable with mentoring a child. I respect that concern because that was me. I was a broken male and strongly in need of mentorship myself. Nevertheless, I realized that although I had not reached the level of success I initially deemed necessary for a mentor to have, I did have some knowledge and experience that could be beneficial to someone.

People of other races step up quicker than us to mentor our children. Some of them have been monumental in helping get children to college and I commend them for that. Unfortunately, many of them do it as a means to puff their resume.

No man of another race can ever show a Black boy how to deal within this society as a Black man. You know the very makeup of this society. Its economic, educational, and political systems are adverse to the rise of these Black boys. That in itself should light a spark within you to do more because you know what it feels like to grow up in this world.

I know most of you are hurting internally. You may not want to admit it and you may be afraid to be vulnerable. You’re in pain because many of you never had the opportunity to address some of the issues that have been eating at you for years.

Many of you have never talked about the issues you grew up with as a Black male in this society. You never had a chance to be open and talk about some of the issues that have bothered you for so long. You’re expected to walk around like Supermen on the outside but you are weak and beaten down within. Many of these kids out here today are going through the same issues you were going through 10, 20, or even 30 years ago. Unfortunately, many of our youth don’t have the luxury of support that some of you had when you were growing up.

It is time for you to step up and provide the needed light to a generation that is surrounded by darkness. You are like a candle. The combination of your wisdom, knowledge, and experience is similar to the flame that burns when a candle is lit. The flame can work towards eliminating darkness and it can also light other candles all while remaining lit itself. Your mind, like a burning candle, is light.  Use it to enlighten and illuminate the minds of the youth and just watch how your own light will brighten.

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Call to action, and mentoring resources:

Imentor – is a school-based mentoring program matching public high school students in New York City in one-to-one relationships with college-educated mentors. iMentor partners with public schools to ensure every student at these schools receives a mentor and to augment existing guidance and college counseling programs. Mentor-mentee pairs are matched for three to four years and exchange weekly emails and meet monthly in person.

Big Brothers Big Sisters – What is every child fulfilled his or her potential? Think how amazing that would be. Now, you can start more LIttles on the path to big things.

100 Ideas to Use when Mentoring Youth (1) – Courtesy of the CCC/THE MENTORING GROUP

25 ways you can give back to your community – If mentoring with an actual individual isn’t your thing you can still give back to your community by trying some of these techniques out.

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Quinton M Is a graduate of Purdue University currently working for Lukoil Pan Americas. He has served on the Board of Brooklyn CARES Mentoring Movement, and also contributes to the Mentor Advisory Council for iMentor and on the Junior Board of Directors for Urban Pathways.

Call to Successful Black Man – 1

SkoolHaze Successful Black Men Header

Call to Successful Black Man – 1

By: Quinton Mudd

What if someone told you to build a house in which you would live for the rest of your life? You have no experience in home building and you have absolutely no clue where to begin. However, you are given two options. The first option is to essentially build the house from scratch with little to no help. The only examples you have to use as a guide to building your house are the other surrounding houses that are in whatever particular environment you are in.  You are not provided with the tools needed to build the house nor are you provided with the directions needed to construct such a large structure.

The second option is to build the house with as much help as you can possibly have. You’ll have help from people who will bring a vast amount of knowledge of house building to the table. Not one of these experienced builders have houses that are identical to another because each construction project experience was a unique experience.

I assume most sane people would select the 2nd option. I assume most people would want as much help as they can get as they undertake such a challenging task.

Let’s look at it in a different light. Let’s replace the house you’re supposed to build with manhood. As a boy, would one prefer to develop his manhood with help from successful men or would he prefer to do it on his own? Personally, I would prefer assistance.

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The Dilemma and the Challenge

As I examine our society (United States of America), I see too many boys having this “every boy for himself” option thrust upon them. Manhood is not given to us by age and seniority but rather it is gained by us with knowledge and work.  This concept is evidenced by the plethora of adult males walking around this society with absolutely no idea of how to be a man. Either these men have no knowledge of what manhood truly is or they lack the determination and will to put in the work needed to build their manhood.

These males look great on the outside. They wear the costume of a man flawlessly. A house built by a novice whose only guidance were the surrounding houses in the neighborhood may look great on the exterior; however, the interior and foundation may be weak due to being built incorrectly.

A person may look, dress, and speak like one would assume most men look, dress, and speak. However, you’ll notice that these males are weak internally and that weakness is manifested in their childish and amateur behavior.

Nevertheless, too many boys, especially Black boys, are not being equipped with the proper tools and knowledge needed as they embark on their personal journeys toward becoming the greatest men they can become. This is where I become a huge advocate of mentoring and its power to change the world. Many men want to help and many boys want help. Mentoring allows for a structured environment that lessens the cultural barriers to entry that may exist in the streets and communities.

Susan Taylor, founder of the National CARES Mentoring Movement, said that the most revolutionary thing we can do is love one another. We express our love through our actions and each action should always be inspired by care and concern. To love is to put the well-being of those you care for on the same level as your own well-being. This society has trained us to put our individualistic desires before the needs of the common folk and that is detrimental to any society. An expression of love is an attempt towards unity. Division is crippling and nothing divided in many parts can ever become one. A divided family, community, corporation, team cannot reach its fullest potential.

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House vs. Field

Much of society vehemently critiques our boys for not behaving in a manner that they believe men are supposed to behave in. Some of the most burning critiques come from Black men that are deemed successful by society’s standards of success. The doctors, lawyers, business owners, executives, consultants, teachers, or any other persons that believes they’ve “made it” are filled with condemnations against our youth. I understand their recognition of and frustration with the many problems that exist but I also suggest they look in the mirror if they’re truly interested in solving the problems.

I must say that I do not think that a man with copious professional credentials and achievements is more qualified than his less educated peers to work towards uplifting our youth. Some of those men are so psychologically damaged that I’d prefer that they stay as far away from our children as possible. However, I do believe the professional Black man has the power within him to change the minds of those young Black boys he encounters.

His profession isn’t as important as is the opportunity to offer a presence that may be foreign to the mind, eyes, and ears of the young Black youth. This new presence is sure to challenge many of the homogeneous thoughts, norms, and axioms that have been beaten into our kids’ minds.

Professional Black man, you provide the opportunity for many of our underserved youth to be exposed to ways of living that they may not otherwise have access to. Don’t act as if you don’t know how Black men have always been portrayed in ‘Murica’s media.

You know that society is either covertly or overtly telling our youth that their place in society is either on the mic, field, in the bed, or in jail. Many of you Black men were told and sold the same garbage that these kids are exposed to today. Think about the light that was illuminated within when you discovered that there was more out in this world to capture.

Whenever you start a new job, you expect to be trained on the responsibilities of your position and you also expect to be assimilated into the culture of the organization. Well, who is training these Black boys on the many responsibilities of manhood? Who is assimilating them into America’s culture? If there aren’t many real men to guide them then they have no choice but to learn on the job. Yet you blame them for the mistakes they make.

Quinton M – Is a graduate of Purdue University currently working for Lukoil Pan Americas. He currently serves on the Board of Brooklyn CARES Mentoring Movement. He also serves on the Mentor Advisory Council for iMentor and on the Junior Board of Directors for Urban Pathways.

Part 2 coming soon…