Our Society Needs Affirmative Action … Sometimes

 

I work in a small non-profit in a rural Maryland town. We have quite a variety of programs given our size, a lot of them geared to helping poor, underprivileged children. The children are mostly black. There is a big divide in our community, but not terrible animus, between whites and blacks. Of course, there are rich blacks and many poor whites; overall, however, the black community is much poorer and has more challenges than the white community.

In our summer youth camp for underprivileged elementary school kids, one hundred percent of them are black. We also have a mentoring program aimed at kids who have no good role models at home. The parents might be on drugs and are neglectful. The home might be fatherless. You know the scenarios.

So, we recruit mentors to help these children be given a better direction in life than they currently have. The problem we have is that that there are a lot of white, middle-class ladies who volunteer and very few black men who do the same. We need black men to mentor the many young black boys in the program. They are hard for us to recruit. We have tried to recruit from black churches without much success. We have advertised without much success.

I am not sure why we cannot get a good balance of mentors for these kids. Our organization knows that it does matter who mentors these kids. For boys, men are better than women (in general). For blacks, black adults of the same sex are best.

Some of our people have complained that we don’t need upper-middle-class white women telling black kids what they ought to do. There may be some truth to that, but it is these women who are always willing to step up and volunteer. Without them, our organization would not exist. Kudos to them. They are willing to help. On the other hand, we need a better outreach to the black community here. The only real communication with the black community is when we recruit kids for the programs. It is mostly moms and grandmas who want their kids/grandkids to participate in our programs.

I hope I do not sound like I am stereotyping. I am describing a problem as I perceive it. And my black coworkers see it the same way. We need black men as volunteers. They have not stepped up. I do not know why not. Perhaps they are not comfortable working with an almost white organization. I do not have a solution. I am not asking for one. But I am pointing out that there are still barriers between races and that is hurting our efforts to work together to solve problems. I am not blaming white people. (I am white.) I am not blaming black people.

At the same time, I am in no way suggesting that some kind of mentoring program will fix problems that are rooted in the home. It is a band-aid solution until those families let God straighten out their messes. But a few kids will be truly helped and we ought to do the best we can for them.

Thanks for listening.

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  1. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Brian Scarborough: Thanks for listening.

    It’s we who thank you.  Very fine article. I have no idea how to address the problem you raise; I just know that the world is a better place because of your actions, regardless.  The poor care program I was involved in for years was wiped out by the progressivists’ covid-based offensive against the Church and the American people.

    • #1
  2. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    The poor care program I was involved in for years was wiped out by the progressivists’ covid-based offensive against the Church and the American people.

    Well we don’t want those proles thinking that they don’t need assistance forever. 

    • #2
  3. Brian Scarborough Coolidge
    Brian Scarborough
    @Teeger

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Brian Scarborough: Thanks for listening.

    It’s we who thank you. Very fine article. I have no idea how to address the problem you raise; I just know that the world is a better place because of your actions, regardless. The poor care program I was involved in for years was wiped out by the progressivists’ covid-based offensive against the Church and the American people.

    Don’t thank me. I am only the accountant there. I mainly focus on the money. I prefer that to dealing with people, especially of the young variety.  You probably have done more than I have. 

    And I much prefer teaching the Bible in any event.

    • #3
  4. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I have lots of ideas. I once started up a reading program for our school district for which I talked with a lot of local organizations to recruit volunteers.

    If you had a volunteer coordinator who could do that, it would help a lot. Church groups, garden clubs, police and fire departments, parents groups through the schools, teachers, senior citizens groups, and so on. We have a thousand nonprofits on Cape Cod where I live, so the list of organizations to speak do was huge. :-) Any community colleges, students and staff could probably have some willing volunteers.

    The key to attracting volunteers is to make the request for help sound doable to the listener. You want to be sure to communicate that the volunteer has control over the amount of time he or she can give. That’s what they need to hear.

    So you begin inhouse with an elaborate organization plan for the time requirements you need filled. As short amount of times as possible. An hour a week for this, two hours a week for that, and so on.

    Make sure there are people the volunteer can communicate with easily, make sure to set it up so that there’s backup in case the volunteer can’t make it to the mentoring situation at some point, and make sure the groups you’re speaking to know that there will be backup available for them if they make the commitment at some point.

    In my experience, lots of people were willing to give it a try, for an hour or two a week, and then they got wrapped up in it and enjoyed it so much that they became much more committed. :-)

    The key is addressing the candidate-volunteers’ questions about how they can fit it into their existing life. You want people who are busy. They will be good role models for optimism and the embracing of the work of everyday life. But these are people who need to know exactly who, what, why, when, and where before they will make a commitment.

    You also have to make the screening process as painless as possible. Before candidate-volunteers will make a commitment, they will want to know exactly what to expect from the screening process because that will be on their minds in considering whether to do this. The recruiting speech should cover that carefully.

    You can do a lot in written handouts so the coordinator doesn’t have to spend valuable friend-making time when he or she is speaking to the groups going over what are basically housekeeping details.

    Thank you for your work on this much-needed project. I have always found great resources from the Points of Light Foundation. They are truly amazing.

    I read a wonderful book years ago about the Big Brothers organization and the sad situation that exists in the poor neighborhoods in Washington, DC. You might enjoy it.

    • #4
  5. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away when Jonah Goldberg was interesting, he mentioned that marriage tethered men to the community. Single guys get drunk and goof off with their friends. When you get married, your wife signs you up for little league and youth groups and all that. 

    • #5
  6. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    There are black professional organizations.  The historically black colleges may have alumni networks that could help find recruits.  I would also reach out to athletics departments in high school and colleges.  I know you are in a small town but you never know who knows someone who might be able to help.  

    • #6
  7. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away when Jonah Goldberg was interesting, he mentioned that marriage tethered men to the community. Single guys get drunk and goof off with their friends. When you get married, your wife signs you up for little league and youth groups and all that.

    Now I know what I’m doing wrong…

    • #7
  8. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    Go to the black churches for help.

    • #8
  9. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    Go to the black churches for help.

     We have tried to recruit from black churches without much success.

    • #9
  10. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    OldPhil (View Comment):

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    Go to the black churches for help.

    We have tried to recruit from black churches without much success.

    That seems like just another symptom of the larger problem:  if the black men were interested in being father figures and mentors etc, they wouldn’t have left their families to start with.

    • #10
  11. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Brian, thanks for the post, and my commendation for your efforts.

    I did think about this one for a while, and I have an idea that might help.  I’m not sure if it would work, but I’m trying to think of a creative solution.

    I tend to agree with you that a woman won’t make an effective mentor for a teenage boy.  This is not something that I would want to change, even in Utopia.

    I also agree that a black boy may well prefer a black mentor.  I’d probably prefer to live in a world in which this were not the case, but that’s not where we are, and I don’t find this to be an particularly objectionable preference in any event.

    So the problem is a shortage of black men to serve as mentors.  I assume that you can get a decent number of white men.

    What if you pair them up, or group them in some way?  I’m trying to think of a way to develop a force-multiplier for any black male volunteers that you could find.

    This might be done in two ways:

    1. Each boy could be given a 2-3 mentor team, one black and one or two white, with the understanding that they would alternate.  If it’s 1-1, you might be able to have the white mentor do 2/3 or 3/4 of the interaction, helping a single boy, while the black mentor is somewhat less involved but helps 2-3 boys.
    2. If the activity could be done in small groups, have teams of 1 black mentor with 1-3 white mentors, perhaps with a group of 4-10 boys.

    My feeling is that #2 is a better option, but I don’t know your program.  It’s possible that neither of these options is feasible.

    It does strike me that doing this would have an added advantage.  Having black boys mentored by a team of white and black men would, I think, be a great step toward MLK’s Promised Land.  Those boys would be bound to notice that black men and white man are united in loving them, and wanting the best for their futures.

    • #11
  12. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll
    @DavidCarroll

    Kudos to you, Brian, and to the volunteers.  The organization does important work and has important goals.  It is unfortunate that we have a cultural divide that results in there being a difference between white and black male volunteers to help children.  That cultural divide is a problem, but it is a reality (exploited by purveyors of identity politics, a.k.a. race hustlers).

    Keep up the good work and the best of luck and all blessings to get the volunteers you need.

    • #12
  13. JoshuaFinch Coolidge
    JoshuaFinch
    @JoshuaFinch

    I applaud your efforts but we all know that real change will come only when blacks start caring about their own. As of this moment, they don’t.

    • #13
  14. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    JoshuaFinch (View Comment):

    I applaud your efforts but we all know that real change will come only when blacks start caring about their own. As of this moment, they don’t.

    And it’s not just the black MEN either, really.  Kevin Samuels has some very revealing youtube videos about these phenomena.

    • #14
  15. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    When the mothers drop off the kids. Do you ask them? Why aren’t you married to the father of your child? If you don’t, have you figured out why they aren’t married from other stuff the kids or Moms’ say.

    • #15
  16. Brian Scarborough Coolidge
    Brian Scarborough
    @Teeger

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    When the mothers drop off the kids. Do you ask them? Why aren’t you married to the father of your child? If you don’t, have you figured out why they aren’t married from other stuff the kids or Moms’ say.

    We do not ask and I am not sure how that would help. We do advise and help people make better decisions. Since we are not a Christian organization, and rely on government grants, and have a bunch on non-Christians on staff, we do not even encourage them to go to church. I wish we could. 

    We need cultural renewal. We need to get back to the place in our society when people were expected to be married to have children and when people were expected to work out marriages when possible. 

    In my view, the sexual revolution has been a social disaster. It is a root of many of our evils. But even many conservatives do not see this. Progressives blame the 1% for our problems. Ridiculous. But this is for another post – coming soon. 

     

     

    • #16
  17. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    When the mothers drop off the kids. Do you ask them? Why aren’t you married to the father of your child? If you don’t, have you figured out why they aren’t married from other stuff the kids or Moms’ say.

    I don’t usually ask, but if I spend enough time in conversation, I can usually figure it out.

    Some of it is youthful recklessness and poor male stewardship and guidance. Like trying to teach men to be good leaders is verboten when women can and are willing to be leaders, why bother accepting a dated worldview and teach men?

    Others, you can tell they stayed single too long by how they complain about daily living with a spouse.

    Some, faithlessness in one, the other, or both.

    Others, it’s high expectations and a lack of grace and a desire to change the people they married.

    You can usually get a good approximation of it through conversation.

    • #17
  18. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Stina (View Comment):
    Others, you can tell they stayed single too long by how they complain about daily living with a spouse.

    I’m not sure what that means. 

    • #18
  19. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):
    Others, you can tell they stayed single too long by how they complain about daily living with a spouse.

    I’m not sure what that means.

    We get used to our state of being and entrenched. You can be taken out of the habit of minor compromise and become habitualized to having things exactly the way you like them.

    People who have been used to living with siblings and don’t spend much time on their own before marriage are better able to handle the inconveniences of living with a spouse.

    • #19
  20. Duane Oyen Member
    Duane Oyen
    @DuaneOyen

    Yes, there are absolutely times when racial and even sex quotas and exclusive recruiting are njot only OK, but proper, and necessary.  For example, I think that every cop team patrolling in diverse cities should at least strive to mix races- for roughly the same reasons described in the original post.   

    When I was in nursing school, they made a point of decreeing that assignments of patients would be totally gender-neutral.  It is easy to understand the desire for that, particularly since the proportion of female to male nurses is very much off kilter from the patient population.  Driven by necessity?  Of course.  But that does not mean that it is the most desirable approach.   I’ll never forget the 17 year old girl whose mom brought her into the clinic because of a migraine.   I was the 40’s-ish male student tapped to give her the gluteal injection, and she balked until her mother threatened to take her home and just let her suffer the headache pain.  Frankly,  I wasn’t any more excited about doing it than she was to have me as the nurse.  No good reason not to match genders in that sort of awkward personal situation if it can be avoided.

    Young boys need role models with whom they can identify.  That set would normally not include middle-aged females.

     

    • #20
  21. RyanFalcone Member
    RyanFalcone
    @RyanFalcone

    I disagree with most of the assumptions here. I’ve been involved with youth ministries in urban Pittsburgh for over 20 years. Disproportionately non-white boys are being ministered to by almost entirely white men. Yes, it is a big challenge to minister to a black boy as a white man. But all the problems of the black sub-culture in this country can be tracked to basic pride and a hesitance in the face of white authority figures is among the most serious of the issues. We go nuts trying to recruit black men with almost no success. In the end, we have a bunch of “white” men that have “white” lifestyles and we impart those into our ministry with events like camping, hiking, hunting/fishing, etc. Many of the kids in the larger youth group make fun of us because we do such things and also because we seem to draw a lot of special needs kids. Yet, many black kids show up and a large percentage quickly love being a part of our family. Our success is amazing to even us. It isn’t based on shallow earthly formulas and assumptions. We are just a small group of guys that see ourselves as children of the living God regardless of other crude classifications, who are trying to be faithful to a calling. The kids quickly seem to have a sense of relief at being released from the constant shallowness and hostility of these cultural classifications, even if for only a weekend or a few hours on a Monday night.

    Is cross-cultural ministry tough? Absolutely. Like most things on this side of eternity, the answers to problems are simple yet tough. In our earthly wisdom, we try to make the comfortable path the easiest in hopes that easy will bring more success. Earthly wisdom will always lead to failure.

    The biggest issue in our culture in my opinion is that the body of Christ has abandoned our responsibility to love and serve the lost to non-profits. We have to few royal priests and too many social workers. Social workers have managed to solve not one single problem these past 50-60 years.

    • #21
  22. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    RyanFalcone (View Comment):

    I disagree with most of the assumptions here. I’ve been involved with youth ministries in urban Pittsburgh for over 20 years. Disproportionately non-white boys are being ministered to by almost entirely white men. Yes, it is a big challenge to minister to a black boy as a white man. But all the problems of the black sub-culture in this country can be tracked to basic pride and a hesitance in the face of white authority figures is among the most serious of the issues. We go nuts trying to recruit black men with almost no success. In the end, we have a bunch of “white” men that have “white” lifestyles and we impart those into our ministry with events like camping, hiking, hunting/fishing, etc. Many of the kids in the larger youth group make fun of us because we do such things and also because we seem to draw a lot of special needs kids. Yet, many black kids show up and a large percentage quickly love being a part of our family. Our success is amazing to even us. It isn’t based on shallow earthly formulas and assumptions. We are just a small group of guys that see ourselves as children of the living God regardless of other crude classifications, who are trying to be faithful to a calling. The kids quickly seem to have a sense of relief at being released from the constant shallowness and hostility of these cultural classifications, even if for only a weekend or a few hours on a Monday night.

    Is cross-cultural ministry tough? Absolutely. Like most things on this side of eternity, the answers to problems are simple yet tough. In our earthly wisdom, we try to make the comfortable path the easiest in hopes that easy will bring more success. Earthly wisdom will always lead to failure.

    The biggest issue in our culture in my opinion is that the body of Christ has abandoned our responsibility to love and serve the lost to non-profits. We have to few royal priests and too many social workers. Social workers have managed to solve not one single problem these past 50-60 years.

    Black kids dress up as Batman and white kids dress up as Black Panther. It’s actually quite easy for boys and girls to admire people of other races. 

    • #22
  23. Brian Scarborough Coolidge
    Brian Scarborough
    @Teeger

    RyanFalcone (View Comment):

    I disagree with most of the assumptions here. I’ve been involved with youth ministries in urban Pittsburgh for over 20 years. Disproportionately non-white boys are being ministered to by almost entirely white men. Yes, it is a big challenge to minister to a black boy as a white man. But all the problems of the black sub-culture in this country can be tracked to basic pride and a hesitance in the face of white authority figures is among the most serious of the issues. We go nuts trying to recruit black men with almost no success. In the end, we have a bunch of “white” men that have “white” lifestyles and we impart those into our ministry with events like camping, hiking, hunting/fishing, etc. Many of the kids in the larger youth group make fun of us because we do such things and also because we seem to draw a lot of special needs kids. Yet, many black kids show up and a large percentage quickly love being a part of our family. Our success is amazing to even us. It isn’t based on shallow earthly formulas and assumptions. We are just a small group of guys that see ourselves as children of the living God regardless of other crude classifications, who are trying to be faithful to a calling. The kids quickly seem to have a sense of relief at being released from the constant shallowness and hostility of these cultural classifications, even if for only a weekend or a few hours on a Monday night.

    Is cross-cultural ministry tough? Absolutely. Like most things on this side of eternity, the answers to problems are simple yet tough. In our earthly wisdom, we try to make the comfortable path the easiest in hopes that easy will bring more success. Earthly wisdom will always lead to failure.

    The biggest issue in our culture in my opinion is that the body of Christ has abandoned our responsibility to love and serve the lost to non-profits. We have to few royal priests and too many social workers. Social workers have managed to solve not one single problem these past 50-60 years.

    Where in Pittsburgh? My wife worked at a church in the Oakland section in the late 70’s. I think it was called Friendship Church.

    • #23
  24. RyanFalcone Member
    RyanFalcone
    @RyanFalcone

    Brian Scarborough (View Comment):

    RyanFalcone (View Comment):

    I disagree with most of the assumptions here. I’ve been involved with youth ministries in urban Pittsburgh for over 20 years. Disproportionately non-white boys are being ministered to by almost entirely white men. Yes, it is a big challenge to minister to a black boy as a white man. But all the problems of the black sub-culture in this country can be tracked to basic pride and a hesitance in the face of white authority figures is among the most serious of the issues. We go nuts trying to recruit black men with almost no success. In the end, we have a bunch of “white” men that have “white” lifestyles and we impart those into our ministry with events like camping, hiking, hunting/fishing, etc. Many of the kids in the larger youth group make fun of us because we do such things and also because we seem to draw a lot of special needs kids. Yet, many black kids show up and a large percentage quickly love being a part of our family. Our success is amazing to even us. It isn’t based on shallow earthly formulas and assumptions. We are just a small group of guys that see ourselves as children of the living God regardless of other crude classifications, who are trying to be faithful to a calling. The kids quickly seem to have a sense of relief at being released from the constant shallowness and hostility of these cultural classifications, even if for only a weekend or a few hours on a Monday night.

    Is cross-cultural ministry tough? Absolutely. Like most things on this side of eternity, the answers to problems are simple yet tough. In our earthly wisdom, we try to make the comfortable path the easiest in hopes that easy will bring more success. Earthly wisdom will always lead to failure.

    The biggest issue in our culture in my opinion is that the body of Christ has abandoned our responsibility to love and serve the lost to non-profits. We have to few royal priests and too many social workers. Social workers have managed to solve not one single problem these past 50-60 years.

    Where in Pittsburgh? My wife worked at a church in the Oakland section in the late 70’s. I think it was called Friendship Church.

    The ministry is out of the N. Side. I live in Bloomfield though.

    • #24
  25. RyanFalcone Member
    RyanFalcone
    @RyanFalcone

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    RyanFalcone (View Comment):

    I disagree with most of the assumptions here. I’ve been involved with youth ministries in urban Pittsburgh for over 20 years. Disproportionately non-white boys are being ministered to by almost entirely white men. Yes, it is a big challenge to minister to a black boy as a white man. But all the problems of the black sub-culture in this country can be tracked to basic pride and a hesitance in the face of white authority figures is among the most serious of the issues. We go nuts trying to recruit black men with almost no success. In the end, we have a bunch of “white” men that have “white” lifestyles and we impart those into our ministry with events like camping, hiking, hunting/fishing, etc. Many of the kids in the larger youth group make fun of us because we do such things and also because we seem to draw a lot of special needs kids. Yet, many black kids show up and a large percentage quickly love being a part of our family. Our success is amazing to even us. It isn’t based on shallow earthly formulas and assumptions. We are just a small group of guys that see ourselves as children of the living God regardless of other crude classifications, who are trying to be faithful to a calling. The kids quickly seem to have a sense of relief at being released from the constant shallowness and hostility of these cultural classifications, even if for only a weekend or a few hours on a Monday night.

    Is cross-cultural ministry tough? Absolutely. Like most things on this side of eternity, the answers to problems are simple yet tough. In our earthly wisdom, we try to make the comfortable path the easiest in hopes that easy will bring more success. Earthly wisdom will always lead to failure.

    The biggest issue in our culture in my opinion is that the body of Christ has abandoned our responsibility to love and serve the lost to non-profits. We have to few royal priests and too many social workers. Social workers have managed to solve not one single problem these past 50-60 years.

    Black kids dress up as Batman and white kids dress up as Black Panther. It’s actually quite easy for boys and girls to admire people of other races.

    It is but there are issues specific to the “black” culture that makes it very difficult for a black male to have an authority figure who is white (especially male). This issue is entirely a socio-political construct of the Democrats (see BLM).

    I put black in quotes because it actually has nothing to do with skin color. 

    • #25