It took me several years to get one person I can call a mentor and it happens I have gotten two in one year. One is a woman named Elayne, the other a man named Jim. Both of whom are folks I look up to. I feel lucky to have them because I learn a great deal from these two, in fact, I get more from 2-20 minute phone calls a week then I do in 15 hours a week of college courses. But what if I was black?
None of my black friends have mentors even though they want them. To be fair, almost none of my white friends do either. But that is not because neither want them, they do, it is because not many want to mentor inmates except other inmates. Which, to be honest, most Lifer’s want to be in a position as a mentor and rarely is it for altruistic reasoning. Usually it is some angle to try for clemency. On the compound they are as see through as glass, learning from them would be a shame. Now, let us be fair here, there are also many Lifer’s who are doing things for the right reasons, and if a lifer came to me and said “I want to get out of prison by helping as many people as possible and making a real impact”, that I can respect! Everyone knows lifer’s want out of prison by clemency, why lie about it, you know?
Back on point, I feel lucky, like lightning struck me twice to get two mentors. I positioned myself correctly, admittedly. Something others have a hard time doing. I have to say, I do not think I would have two mentors if I was black. I think the two mentors I have would be my mentors if I was in the same position, however, I do not think I would have been able to be in that position to be found by them if I wasn’t white.
It may have been hard to get where I am at, but it would have been harder if I was not white.
I say this because we, as people, need to name our countries fault’s. It is called awareness.
My part is to help those around me position themselves into being helped. I promise to do just that, without bias.
Jeff Jeffebelle Utnage