Modeling Black Excellence in Mentoring Relationships



The phrase “Black excellence” has seen a recent uptick in popularity over the past decade due to increased usage in social media posts and campaigns. According to, Black excellence “refers to a high level of achievement, success, or ability demonstrated by an individual Black person or by Black people in general… or to a mindset used in pursuit of such success”. In this blog post, we will discuss different ways to promote Black excellence within a mentoring relationship.

Children are more perceptive than given credit for and are constantly observing their environments and learning from it, a phenomenon known in psychology as behavior modeling. Colloquially put, children will do as you say and/or as you do! The contra-positive of that statement is also true for mentees that did not grow up with role models who demonstrated the pillars of Black excellence, they cannot be expected to show it. This is where the external intervention from a mentor becomes critical. Mentors have lived experience and exposure to different worldviews that are invaluable to insights and bring depth into a mentoring relationship. Having a mentor that demonstrates and encourages Black excellence to their mentee is an effective way to motivate a mentee to reciprocate it inside and outside of the relationship. This extends to Black mentors with non-Black mentees – demonstrating Black excellence and being open to conversations about the lived experience of Black people helps Littles to appreciate and honor Black excellence from their peers.

David Awosoga, NYMAC Member

Author: David Awosoga,
NYMAC Member

In my life, I was very fortunate to have Black excellence demonstrated to me from a young age by my parents, as the sacrifices that they made for our family motivated me to continue their legacy of excellence. As educators, my parents exposed me to academics early on in life and instilled in me a love for learning and recognition of the importance of higher education, something that I aim to reciprocate to my Littles. Excellence was a non-negotiable conscious choice to forsake “good enough” in exchange for “great”. As a first-generation immigrant from Nigeria, I have spent the majority of my life as a “Black kid in a White world,” and I encourage mentors with mentees from such backgrounds to provide a space for them within the match to reconcile cultural differences, define their identity, and engage in activities that connect them to their heritage. Participating in such activities as a mentor will also expand your horizon and cultivate a deeper understanding and relationship between you and your mentee.

At NYMAC we have members who are Black mentors or have had Black mentees, and as a council, we celebrate diversity in mentoring. As part of our objectives to amplify youth voices, we want to use our platform to ensure that Black excellence is treated as more than a hashtag among the next generation of Black leaders that come up through the BBBSC network. Join us in our mission to promote Black excellence in mentoring!