In the past, most of my mentors have been men. In fact, they have been mostly white men with the exception of one latino. Some this has to do with the lack of males and females of color in the mostly white societies that I inhabit. Now, I have found that those white male mentorship relationships never last very long, about 1.5 years average. The pattern is constantly the same. In exchange for my intellectual labor as thinking catalyst, my emotional labor as confidant, and my ego-boosting labor as quasi-sexual temptress, I get the "privilege" of being made over into their image as leader. This goes back as far as white male mentors redefining my speech patterns in 7th grade to those who seek to reshape my behavioral choices today.
My natural openness and performative non-judgmentalism encourages this attempt at penis and skin grafting. My perspective had been that if the model of power is white male power, I wanted to understand and empathize with it. And perhaps this empathetic movement is my downfall. Because eventually the "grafts" don't take, my black female mind/body/spirit rejects the foreign tissue. In other words, even if I wanted to I cannot adopt "white male styles." Not that I am incapable of being an assertive, independent, and decisive leader. Its just that it always gets warped by others into being "controlling," "impatient," and other negative characteristics "having too much energy, being force of nature" that because I am a black woman are not acceptable. When I try to articulate that my experiences mean I have to reject the models they are creating for me, they respond with shock of my arrogance to have a mind of my own and the will to make it manifest in the world. So when they realize I won't be their "mini-me," they withdraw their support, although still wanting to extract my labors.
My relationship with a male Latino mentor went better to some extent. There was less attempts at grafting in general. And as a person of color, his skin was not as foreign to my system. It lasted longer (about 5-6 years), but eventually ended, mostly due to my expectations for more active encouragement. He was very encouraging, but mostly due to removing obstacles in my way (an important form of encouragement) but not the same as actively and directly engaging in the furthering my intentions. To put it metaphorically, I wanted him not just to remove the logs in the swollen river, but to actually help me construct a raft to navigate the river. This was too much of an investment for him, and I withdrew from the relationship in disappointment.
I have been summoning lots of white women lately, but they tend to follow the essential female powers ideology which didn't work for me after Junior year at Bryn Mawr College. The exception is my current female mentor, who is also a secular Jew, which is one of my few non-dysfunctional mentor relationships. She has definitely suffered discrimination in the academy and professionally and her experiences are very valuable for me.
Yet, I've never had a black female mentor and that bothers me. Right now, I desperately feel the need to have someone in power who really gets me: my intelligence, intensity, dedication and discipline, and drive to make the world a better place. I need someone to understand that I have good instincts that have served me well and when I follow those instincts and persuade others to follow with me that its not being controlling or inflexible. Its knowing that if I don't have the courage and confidence to follow the path, which I've already scouted; others will not trust the young black woman actually leading them.
So I am seeking an EBFL, because my soul is scarred with penis and skin grafts that it knew better to reject.