Race-exclusive mentorships are unnecessary

July 16, 2010 Commentary Print Print
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Many students may be unaware that African-American males are failing out and dropping out of college in record numbers.

These stats come from OCCC’s 2010 Achieving the Dream report. Only 22 percent of African-Americans who enrolled in OCCC in 2006 remained in college in 2008. Nationally, only 20 percent of black students earn a bachelor’s degree by the age of 29.

Mary Turner, OCCC’s learning support specialist, is part of the college’s Achieving The Dream Taskforce.

They are trying to raise the success rate of black men at OCCC.

She said one of the proposed solutions is offering a special mentorship program for black men.


Danniel Parker

A lot of black men “come from social environments where they are expected to act macho and not ask questions,” Turner said. “So when they first begin college, they are lost and don’t know what to do. They need extra guiding.”

Carlos Robinson, extended service coordinator, said he plans to volunteer as a mentor.

He said his responsibilities include giving black men advice about college and life, while allowing them to stay within their cultural comfort zone.

It is not the place of the college to offer racially-exclusive mentoring services.

A person’s success or failure is a matter of their own individual responsibility and their merits as an individual.

OCCC’s job is to provide students with an education. What students do with that opportunity is their own responsibity.

It’s up to black individuals to personally rise up above cultural problems and succeed academically.

Secondly, the school already has people on staff who students can talk to. The counseling staff provides the option of a student either talking to a woman of mixed racial heritage, who is both black and American Indian, or a white woman.

Even if a black man refused to speak to anyone other than another black man about his education, there is already a black man who works as an academic adviser here, Ed Williams.

There is no valid reason these people would not be able to give a black man the advice he needs.

The idea that a person should stay in his cultural comfort zone while in college is a limiting one.

In a culturally-diverse society, a man doesn’t benefit from dealing specifically with persons of his own race and gender. A racially-exclusive mentoring program is also, by nature, divisive.

Patrick Chism, who works at the Welcome Desk, said he shared this feeling about with special services for black students.

“A program like this just creates more division between the races, and more division in our society is not what we need to integrate,” Chism said.

The line of thinking this mentorship program is based upon is the assumption that black individuals are unable to learn because the contents of their mind are racially or culturally inherited. This is the falsehood the mentor program would be based on.

The program is pointless as it does not provide any functions the school does not already supply to everyone, equally, already.

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