Mentors and the end of Tell Me More

Today I was listening to Michele Norris’ last week of Tell Me More. I listen to her regularly either on the tell me more podcast or on npr via the race card project.

She was an incredibly powerful keynote speaker at last year’s People of Color Conference in Washington D.C. that I was thankful to attend, so I thought I would dig out a few of my tweets from her keynote and share them again here. (I misspelled her name in the tweets and they can’t be edited. I tried!)

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Her Wednesday, July 30th episode was focused on mentors, and I tried to capture a few messages that resonated with me here:

Bernard Shaw, former CNN anchor, tells us to pursue for our dreams but to realize the trade offs because success will cost you. “Don’t let anyone tell you what you should do.” No one can tell you whether or not to pursue your dreams. I also appreciate his humility and gratitude in sharing that he had so many mentors and supporters that he feels it is his duty to pass that on to those younger.

On the subject of women and specifically women of color mentoring other women, Michele shared that there was a study out of the University of Colorado that found that women and non-white executives who push for the success of other women or non-whites actually suffer in their own performance reviews whereas white men who do are rated more highly. This is the revelation of a Blindspots that infuriates me.

Freeman Hrabowski III, President of University of Maryland – Baltimore County, emphasizes the importance of knowing how to get back up, because all of us will go through tough times in our life, work, health, etc. Our resilience defines our success. He speaks of creating a culture of mentorship at UMBC and how he institutionalizes this in a way that is meaningful: it’s all about students. This resonated with me as a teacher: what’s best for kids is what has driven my work for the past 8 years.

Michele Norris herself finishes with the wisdom that we are all part of minorities and majorities at different times of our lives, but the media often gives more attention to certain minorities or majorities. On this show, she has sought to bring out those NOT in the media spotlight. It makes me angry that NPR has cancelled a show that is unique in the content, guests, and audience, given their own report about social media allowing us to stick to our own opinions and the report about people polarizing on politics about the polarization of politics and media. How can NPR bring us the world and tell our story, as they claim on their “About NPR” page, if they cancel shows like this?

I will take Michele’s advice that she gave at POCC, “We must have conversations with people who disagree with us.” Thank you, Michele, for all the wisdom you have shared and facilitated in the past 7 years on this show, and I look forward to continuing to hear your voice on the radio.

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