This deep dialogue explores a life-affirmative story of hope and respect for men of color at a time when Black men are routinely stigmatized. Will Jawando’s vivid and moving story not only applies to black men but is a reminder for all our children, most especially those at risk, how even a brief encounter of positive mentoring can make all the difference in their lives. As a man born of a Nigerian father and a white mother, his story is a clarion call to families and communities to provide crucial support to young people and Jawando is our guide for the essential gift of mentorship and how staggeringly transformative it can be for an entire community. He talks about his first mentor, Kalfani, who only a few years older than Jawando was his protector and first basketball teacher. Jawando makes this powerful point regarding his childhood friend, who died young in a drug deal gone wrong, “I believe that if he had the access to these mentors, these father figures like I did, and had had personal relationships, a place to go, an after school program, all the things that could have exposed him to these people, he might still be with us today.” As you listen to this conversation allow your mind to remember the people who mentored you along the way and be inspired to pay it forward.
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