Women are multifaceted gems and we wear several hats, each one becoming more and more decorated as we get older. We are mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, wives, career women, and most importantly, the nurturers and providers for the next generation we usher in. However, as we get older, we go through several transitions that can sometimes be very uncomfortable and difficult to manage. We are faced with many cultural and political dilemmas that we are often unprepared to deal with. Having someone there to walk with us and guide us through these changes can make all the difference.
It’s not a secret that Black girls face quite a few disparities due to race and gender. Overall, Black girls have become overpoliced and underprotected and most certainly forgotten in several different movements and intervention plans. Although we excel at greater rates than any other subgroup, we still have a hard time carving out our own careers paths, which is why it is important for Black women to take on mentorship roles for the Black girls coming up behind us.
A mentoring relationship between Black women and Black girls encourages them to break through stereotypes and helps to create a pathway for them to be leaders in the future. Mentoring allows young women the chance to spend time with a caring and supportive woman invested in their success. There is even more of a need for this in urban communities. The statistics for teenage pregnancy (despite declining), high school dropout rates, and early sexual activity is high. Providing these young women with the support and education they need to prevent these hurdles from halting their goals gives them a better chance at reaching and finishing college as well as venturing into a career. As it’s not just our Black boys who fall victim to the school-to-prison pipeline, but our Black girls as well, mentoring is a great way to intervene to combat such roadblocks.
Young women, especially those in our urban communities, need positive female role models. Women who have overcome obstacles to become successful in their own lives and can share their testimony and support. It is imperative for these girls to have examples of women who have gained strength by coming together to network, and for them to learn the importance of giving back to their neighborhoods (even if they don’t feel that they’ve obtained much from them).
According to The Office of Juvenile Justice Programs, showed that 87 percent of young women who attended mentoring programs went to college within two years of high school graduation; 52 percent were less likely to become pregnant during their teenage years; and 46 percent were less likely to use illegal drugs and alcohol.
With the lack of positive representation of Black women on television, it is important for positive role models, in real life, to step up and teach our young girls. Women are tasked with the responsibility of ushering in new generations and nurturing, shaping and molding the minds of children. But if the women are not being nurtured, shaped and molded into responsible, compassionate and successful adults while in their younger years when there are plenty people who stand by and watch them struggle, who do we then blame for a wayward, lost and crime-filled generation to come? This is why we can’t forget our young women. Mentorship matters.