Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Could This Man Be The Key To Saving Black America?!?

This post's title is an obvious ploy to reel you in. It's not humanly possible for one person to "Save Black America", regardless of how outlandish some Kool Aid sippin' Obama supporters were back in 08'. Reality is, if there's to be any significant change in the fortune of Black folks, it's going to take a collaborative effort between elected officials, clergy, schools, parents, and oh yes, mentors.

For those unaware, the official mission of is to somehow cajole regular, everyday folks into doing something, anything, to help the next generation. I call this "Taking The AverageBro Challenge™", and although I haven't made a point of it much lately, I encourage everyone to look for ways they can contribute. You can tutor kids, teach Sunday school, or even coach youth sports, as I'm doing once again this Winter (our new team of 4th graders is currently 2-2). But perhaps the most meaningful influence you can have on a youngster's life is via the one-on-one interaction that a mentoring program provides. I've been a mentor most of my adult life, and I'd encourage anyone who's never tried it to do so. It will be one of the most frustrating, nerve rattling, hair-pulling, but ultimately, fulfilling things you'll ever do.

This sort of call-to-action is the thing that really drew me to the Obama campaign, and although he's obviously had to keep racial issues at arms length throughout his first year, the things the Obamas have done to encourage community service here, locally in the DC Urreah have been tremendous. While the media's only bothered the make a fuss about Michelle-O's $600 sneakers that time shen visited a DC food bank, reality is, there's a service event of some sort in the local news every few days. The recent announcement of a WH initiative to mentor young black boys is just another step in the right direction.
For a decade, Michelle and Barack Obama have mentored Michael Strautmanis, the chief of staff to top White House aide Valerie Jarrett, in ways big and small.

"They not only mentored me as someone who wanted to go in to public service but as a person who wanted to be a good dad, a good husband and just a productive member of society," Strautmanis said in an interview with Aol. Black Voices.

Now he's getting a chance to return the favor by spearheading a mentoring initiative sponsored by the "First Couple." Mrs. Obama kicked of an initiative designed to mentor young women in November, and Strautmanis will head the White House initiative to mentor young men.

Twenty young men from the D.C. area, mostly sophomores and juniors in high school, will spend a year attending workshops at the White House. Mentors will come from various White House departments and other agencies and companies around Washington, D.C.

The program is being launched in conjunction with National Mentoring Month. Strautmanis said the Obamas are not only aiming to help a group of young people but to show, by example, the importance of mentoring.
Here's video from the announcement.

For everyone who keeps complaining that Obama thinks "more gubb'ment is the answer" to every problem, please put a pin in this one.

And then, Google your local chapter of Big Brothers/Big Sisters, roll up your sleeves, and join in.

There's always more work to be done.

Question: Will you Take The AverageBro™ Challenge and become a tutor, mentor, or youth coach? Why, or why not?

The Obamas Launch Mentoring Initiative [AOLBlackVoices]

President Obama's White House Mentoring Program [Essence]

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