Saturday, December 12, 2020

Trusted Mentors, Equity and Inclusion - from a mentor's perspective

 The term "equity" addresses not just a leveled playing field; that is "equality", but rather an acknowledgement that a person, or group of persons have had systemic barriers placed in their path that cannot be remedied simply by removing the barriers.  If someone has a shackle on her or his ankle, then simply moving them to the same "starting line" where everyone else begins the race isn't equity.  It may be "equality" in the generic sense of the term, but not equity.  Moving them to the same starting line as everyone else AND taking off the shackle is how we achieve equity for those who have been heretofore disenfranchised.

Whether someone has recently been homeless, is a youth transitioning to adulthood, or a formerly incarcerated individual attempting to reintegrate into society, acknowledging the inequity that they face, and working to rectify it is something that TM has done masterfully.  Simply getting employment, or a place to live, or reuniting with estranged family members isn't equity.  Those are certainly steps in the right directions for an individual, but there are additional services a person from one or more of those categories will need in order to move to a more equitable space.  Empowering the person through financial literacy once they have employment.  Offering mentorship in the area of parent/child relations will assist them when reconnecting with family.  Teaching/advising on rights and responsibilities when a person has their own place to live.  These are all ways in which TM works to create equity for its mentees.  Lack of access to financial literacy, stunted knowledge as it relates to parenting, and a generational naivete regarding the care of one's home are all among the many root causes of inequity.  Addressing these dynamics in the way that I know TM does, is key to achieving equity.