MENTORING WITH A BROKEN HEART

Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. These are just three names and three lives from another country where their story has ended in a veil of evil and injustice that has not just impacted me, but millions of people across the globe.  As racial prejudice and weaponised whiteness has been digitised and publicised on a global scale, it’s important to recognise that racism is not a new thing – but it is being filmed. ​​​
I have cried over each story as thousands of hearts break and mourn for both loss and injustice. It’s difficult to not be swallowed by the frustration and the emotions that roll over from events like these. And it’s important to remember that similar injustices take place in my own city. 

As a white man, I will never fully grasp the pain or the trauma that my coworkers, boss, course mates, friends, mentees or partner experiences every time the news shows another black individual that is yet again a victim of white prejudice. And so the challenge remains; how, then, can I – a white man who is still understanding and learning about the privilege that my skin colour dictates – mentor the young people of London with a broken heart? When the issue of racism is so big, so convoluted, so marred in pain and blood, how can I use my whiteness to lift up others?

Something that Elaine exemplifies, is compassion. I’m not perfect, I am still learning – but each time I’m on the phone with Elaine, I’m met with a genuine compassion, even when she may be hurting herself. Compassion runs through the veins of The Mentoring Lab, and it’s through the lens of empathy that I am able to recognise the trauma that young people suffer when news and events such as the recent abominable acts that have gone viral.

If you haven’t gathered yet, I can get emotional. But I’ve learnt that emotions and broken hearts don’t hinder the capacity to mentor – rather they inform the need for it. In other words, I believe that mentoring from a place of broken heartedness, from a place of compassion, from a place of passion is what fuels and drives the practice of mentoring. I believe that the key to see these racial injustices eradicated is found in who we raise, and how we raise them. The answer is in us, the young people we serve, and the vision of change that we will bring together. A broken heart informs us of the world that we want to see – a world we need to see.

As fire ignites our bones, as compassion runs through our veins, as our expertise weaves into the stories of the rising generations, I believe that together we are writing a chapter in history that will be so profound and monumental that no one will see it coming.
No one, but the mentors with a broken heart.

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