We are failing our youth and our ancestors by not extending a helping hand to our younger generation- Brian, on the lack of black male mentors
How old are you? 31
Where do you live? Charlotte, NC
What’s been the highlight of your philanthropy this year?
I am currently the Athletic Director at the church I attend, Greater Bethel AME. When I began attending Greater Bethel, there were no sports programs in place for the church’s youth. With approval from the Pastor and with the financial support of several friends, coworkers, and fraternity brothers, we developed a basketball team. Not only did this spark an excitement throughout the church membership, it was an ideal opportunity for mentorship. We used basketball as a platform to introduce these 11 young men to museums, art, and public speaking. I coordinated several outings to Charlotte Bobcat games and other local activities. The most important aspect of this initiative was introducing our players to positive, male role models. We held workshops where men of different professions would speak and interact with our players. Our workshops consisted of academic tutoring, goal setting, self -esteem building, career information, and positive sportsmanship. Our main objective was to build positive character traits through teaching the game of basketball. Over the course of the season, we saw improvements in academic grades, self-esteem, public speaking, and overall adolescent development.
Why is mentoring black boys important?
Mentoring is especially important to me to because of what I see within my community. Over the last 3 years I have coached youth in a recreational basketball
league. I am currently a coach of eighteen 7-15 year old boys. Out of the 18 young men that make up my two teams, 14 of them come from single parent homes. This alone is a sign that male mentors are vital. Our youth should see productive, positive males on a regular basis. Success is not an occupation, it is a mentality. President Obama has shown us that barriers only exist when one will not cross them. Our boys need men to talk to about life, education, clothing, women, and their emotions. Mentoring is needed because our boys need to learn how to maneuver and network within society.
What would you say to encourage other black men to mentor black boys?
Every man owes at least one young man a helping hand. Too many times I hear, “I don’t have time” or “I will, eventually.” When? In conversing with some men about mentoring, I’ve heard that some feel that they are not where they strive to be professionally or financially so they tend to stand back from mentoring. Ironically, most of my mentees and players do not remember what it is that I do for a living! They don’t care. They simply want someone that they can trust and talk to. We are failing our youth and our ancestors by not extending a helping hand to our younger generation. I would tell other black men who are interested in mentoring: Advice and conversation do not cost any money. It only takes a little bit of time. Helping one child is a huge victory. The feeling of being a positive influence is priceless. Try it!
I would also add, our boys need real-life male role models not just the LeBron James’ or Jay-Zs of the world. They need to see the restaurant owner, the construction worker, the barber, the corporate executive, and the police officer.
Society mostly only portrays African American males in a negative light. It is vital that our young men be able to speak and interact with progressive, productive men.
What does giving back in the black community mean to you?
Anyone that steps foot on a college campus today can easily see the shortage of African American males. When attending college in 1999, the ratio was 14 females for every 1 male on my campus. I was fortunate to have my father in my household and him having an active role in my overall development. There are far too many single parent households in our community. There are so many life lessons that men need to learn in order to productively maneuver in today’s society. There are few outlets for young African American men to express themselves. Youth need to see that there are individuals that can relate and understand their issues. Society mostly only portrays African American males in a negative light. It is vital that our young men be able to speak and interact with progressive, productive men. Positive role models can advise, console, relate, and understand the issues that will arise in a young man’s life. Mentoring is very much needed in all communities, especially in the African American community.
What community organizations are you a part of?
-Athletic Director & Coach – Greater Bethel AME Church (Charlotte, NC)
-Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
-100 Black Men of Greater Charlotte
We thank Brian for his leadership and dedication to the development and nurturing of our black boys!