Written by Kimani Francois //
One of the most vital acts of justice is mentorship. When I ponder the words “mentor” or “mentorship,” the words that come to mind are: wise counsel, experience, knowledge, and advice. The definition of mentorship is “a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person”(Mentorship).
Mentorship requires “AAA”: Action, Acquisition, and Application—which leads to a legacy of justice. The first “A” of the AAA of justice is Action. It’s essential for leaders in power — or, those who’ve gleaned wisdom from experiences in life — to take action, reach out, and teach. I want to focus on two main ways to look at mentorship from a mentor’s perspective regarding the word “Action.” Mentorship can come from anywhere and from anyone who is more skilled in an area of life. The first lesson to learn here is that mentorship is boundless and spreads positively across a multitude of people, ages, and situations. This translates into differences in race, gender, social class, sexuality, and religion.
The second attribute of Action is consistency. Consistency is a commitment of action needed from the mentor for the mentee to be successful. Consistency is a lost art form pertaining to mentorship. This can be due to life situations such as health related issues and family responsibilities. Long periods of time that pass by due to lack of communication and distance can also impede a mentorship. An article written by Lisa Bottomley from the Michigan State University Extension, titled “The Power of Consistency,” stresses that “consistency is connected to the longevity and quality of relationships,” and when consistency is not present in the relationship, “youth receive [the message] that they are not valuable.” The last thing a mentor wants to do is devalue their mentee, because it leads to a legacy of learned bad habits. One way people learn is through observation. Every small act a mentor does, the mentee sees. As an illustration, one of my mentors taught me to be “slow to speak” and “quick to hear” while interacting with others. I’ve also watched him do it on multiple occasions where this mentor is successful with his audience. This has shaped my interactions and has helped in very compromising situations such as job interviews, arguments, and conflicts.
The second A of the AAA of justice is Acquisition. Acquisition is an “asset or object brought”(Acquisition). Acquisition should be an asset when disseminating knowledge . Moreover, we can see how acquisition affected one of the most impactful leaders known to man: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I know this is hard to believe, but he wouldn’t be the man we know him as today without his mentors. A key mentor in Martin’s life was Howard Thurman, his professor at Boston University, who taught Martin the principle of nonviolence. Howard Thurman traveled to India and learned the principle of nonviolence directly from Gandhi in 1935. Take a step back and think about the chain reaction from Gandhi to Howard to Martin. Martin was a student who acquired a trait so simple but potent to millions of lives in his fight for civil rights. Consider that Gandhi was a Hindu and Martin was a Christian. Two such different religions, but the same principle was used to unify people in the fight for justice (Harvey). Furthermore, the central pillar of acquisition is education. Education can come from a professor’s Philosophy class, a bus driver’s interpersonal interactions, or a shoe maker’s precision; in any of these forms, it is directly linked to a lifelong learning.
Dr. Jay Giedd at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md., together with colleagues at McGill University in Montreal, found out that the prefrontal cortex area of the brain grows just before puberty. The prefrontal cortex acts as the CEO of the brain, controlling planning, working memory, and organization (Spinks) . To add to Dr. Giedd’s research, I coined this stage of life as one of “acquiring knowledge into impressionable mush.” Whether acknowledged or not, the prefrontal cortex will be molded; this is why acquiring knowledge about justice in all realms is so critical while in developmental stages.
Mentorship is equivalent to multigenerational wealth. I argue that mentorship is more important than the passing of property because you can lose property in a storm, bankruptcy, mismanagement of finances, family disputes, etc., but passing on wisdom through a mentorship relationship about traits, characteristics, habits, money, and most importantly, justice, is essential. When acts of justice are applied to reality, it sets the tone for generations to come.
How can one be a voice for the oppressed when one doesn’t know how? This leads to the last A of the AAA of justice, “Application.” Mentorship is an act of justice because people come to the realization that it only takes one person to have an essential impact on the world to change it for the good. Jesus was a mentor to only 12 disciples and it changed the face of the Earth. Teaching and learning creates a give-and-take relationship that will never stop. The student position within a classroom setting is a prime example of the cause and effect relationship that mentorship and justice have. A student — prompt with pencil and paper in hand, ready to take notes to impact her final exam — is in the posture required. Extra office hours are sometimes necessary for retention in order to apply that knowledge. In reality, final exams are illustrative of life decisions and lessons that will be continually given to us as tests.
Mentorship is crucial to justice because the fight for justice will not end, so mentorship shouldn’t either. When you stop learning, you stop growing and understanding truth. Justice cannot be done until education is central to (Johnson and Giedd) understanding, which comes with mentorship and its application. Justice and mentorship are interchangeable. If strong mentors are willing to pass on their knowledge about justice in its entirety, the echo chamber of truth will continue to reverberate, and others will acquire and apply it to the next generation. With this enduring impact, justice will never cease to exist.
“Acquisition.” Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 23 July 2018.
Bottomley, Lisa. “The Power of Consistency.” MSU Extension. N.p., 17 Sept. 2013. Web. 23 July 2018.
Harvey, Paul. “This Theologian Helped MLK See the Value of Nonviolence.” Smithsonian.com. Smithsonian Institution, 12 Jan. 2018. Web. 23 July 2018.
Johnson, Sara B., Robert W. Blum, and Jay N. Giedd. “Adolescent Maturity and the Brain: The Promise and Pitfalls of Neuroscience Research in Adolescent Health Policy.” Advances in Pediatrics. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2009. Web. 23 July 2018.
“Mentorship.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 23 July 2018. Web. 23 July 2018.
Spinks, Sarah. “Adolescent Brains Are Works in Progress.” PBS. Public Broadcasting Service, 9 Mar. 2000. Web. 23 July 2018.
Kimani Francois is a rising senior at Wheaton College in Illinois. She majors in Communication with a concentration in Rhetoric and Culture. She was the event coordinator of the William Osborne society (BSU) for two years. She has worked with institute of Prison ministries to pioneer a rap and poetry curriculum. She worked on various diversity committees. She is from Orlando and she’s the youngest of four with two very loving parents and a dog named Mikey.