Props to Jerry Ortiz y Pino for acknowledging the role of mentorship in positive youth development. I'd like to make it clear, however, that Ms. Elsasser's role in the lives of the youth in our community is not one of mentorship...in fact, it's a role that might benefit from some critical analysis.
In her book, "Drama and Diversity: A Pluralistic Perspective for Educational Drama" UT Austin professor Sharon Grady reminds us that "within the desire to 'help' those most oppressed by our current sociopolitical climate, there is still the troubling question of how to avoid reinforcing oppressive relationships. Postcolonial critic Gyatri Spivak (1990) has questioned a 'certain sort of benevolence towards others' by those who presume that their understanding of the world will 'liberate' those they deem less fortunate (19). How do we make sure our own 'ethic of help' is not merely another 'colonizing' stance that disregards the wishes, desires and needs of young people and the communities they represent in favor of our own agendas and desires to either 'protect,' 'empower,' or 'normalize' them?
Elsasser, a white Miami native (and recipient of much criticism for her organization's move into the Barelas neighborhood), might benefit from such self-reflection regarding her own position of privilege as she implements her programming with young people of the Albuquerque community.