Black youth in need of mentors

Four black children where charged with vandalism of a local elementary school in 2009.  The kids broke into the school and wrote derogatory words in the halls.

They urinated on the desks, spit on the cameras and killed one teacher’s pet hamster.

After hearing this story my heart was torn in half; the children caused all this destruction because they were inebriated and high on marijuana.

This is just one true situation that occurs almost every year in our community. What is happening to the black youth of America?All four of these children were students in elementary school, in grades ranging from 2nd to 5th along with one 13-year-old. Where were the parents?  Most of the students who attend this elementary school live across the street in low-income housing and many of these students don’t have positive role models to look up to.  Atlanta-based rapper B.O.B sings:”A child can barely sleep at night too worried about tomorrow/and any hope he has he drowns himself/deep down in sorrow” these words came from his anthem “The Kids.”This song is a reflection of what most young black kids in this community face with everyday. In this song along he talks about how many black kids are lost in the system.

Most of these students are lost in the cycle of the gang violence and drugs that they are around every day.Our kids in this community really don’t stand a chance; some kids have to seek positive role models on TV and most of those characters are shady.

So who else is left to show these children the light?

The college students. They are the future leaders. Just the thought of FAMU brings a little glimmer of light to these children’s eyes. FAMU is the center of Tallahassee’s black community and serves as the glue that holds the black community together. As students of this illustrious university it is up to you all to make a difference for the next generations of black youth.

Working at a mostly-black elementary school and attending an HBCU made me want to embody that hope for the children I mentor. I have come to understand their lives and their pain firsthand. As FAMU students it should be your charge to go out every week and spend at least one hour mentoring in these predominantly black elementary schools.

Lately, I have seen a lack of college involvement at the elementary school where I work. These children need hope and they need guidance.

Most of them come to school talking about being rappers and musical artists. And according to, a national research project launched in 2003 that examined the attitudes, resources, and culture of African American youth ages 15 to 25,  58 percent of black students listen to rap music everyday, 25 percent watch rap videos everyday, and 48 percent watch rap videos at least several times a week, its no wonder they have the notion that  one day they want to have SODs, or stacks on deck.

But according to a study on, an online database that gathers data, conducts research, evaluates programs, offers technical assistance overseas, and educates Americans on social and economic issues, the graduation rate for blacks nation wide is 50.2 percent, the female graduation rate is 56.2 percent and the male graduation rate is 42.8 percent, the lowest graduation rate compared to that of other races included in their research.

They need someone to show them the correct way to make “stacks on deck,” not illegally or as an entertainer. They need to see the pharmacists, journalists, doctors and business students to understand the power of education.

If anyone asked these kids what school they want to attend when they graduate from high school, the first school to come out of their mouth would be FAMU.

It’s time for our students to do more than just talk about servicing the community and actually go out and do it. The motto of the university is excellence with caring; it’s time for us to care about the welfare and future of this community.

These kids are the future of this community and they are in desperate need of collegiate guidance. To be fair, FAMU does have organizations that go above and beyond in mentoring and I commend them.

As a student you don’t have to be in an organization to mentor; it’s your responsibility as black students to go out and mentor these children.

As a child growing up in Tallahassee I knew how powerful FAMU was and in my heart I knew I wanted to attend this university. Each week a pharmacy student would come to my elementary school and mentor me. That student along with others instilled in me an appreciation of the power of education and attending an HBCU.

Now it is time to focus solely on the black community and these predominantly black elementary schools. If we don’t focus solely on the black community and the future of its youth no one will.

It’s not hard for the future Rattlers and leaders of tomorrow to get left behind in this cloud of smoke we call the world.