Dr. Torie Weiston-Serdan

Scholar & Mentoring Expert

Claremont, CA

Especially in my work with young Black and Latino men, it's about helping them understand gender norms, patriarchy and toxic masculinity, and the roles they play in their formation as young people and as young men.

I'm an educator -- I should lead with that because that has really informed the work that I'm doing. I've been teaching for maybe 12 years now. When I got into education I always knew I wanted to be an educator. I had an amazing English teacher in high school. I knew I wanted to be like her, I wanted to run my classroom like hers. It had been a pretty long-term goal of mine to become an educator. I don't think I was ready for what I was going to see when I got here. That's what really kind of prompted a lot of the work that I'm doing now, is getting into the classroom, recognizing what my limitations would be, working within the education system and seeing what the young people needed in relationship to what I could offer within the limits of the system.

Then also, just navigating the world, as a Black queer woman and recognizing that some of the things that I needed, especially in terms of support and resources and guidance were different from what other folks needed. Between recognizing the limitations of the education system, and then also just navigating my own identities and the different things that I needed, that's really where I came up with this idea of critical mentoring and starting to explore what mentoring should look like for young people that were marginalized.

I go back to my experience as a Black queer woman, and recognizing how the different ways I'm having to navigate, and how people are interacting with me all depend on how they are looking at problematizing by different identities. For me, I've tried to be as mindful of that as possible with the young people I work with, and recognizing that being Black, being Latino, being male, being female, being queer, being heterosexual -- these are things that are received and handled differently by different people at different times. Especially in my work with young Black and Latino men, it's about helping them understand gender norms, patriarchy and toxic masculinity, and the roles they play in their formation as young people and as young men.

With young Black men, helping them recognize that you're not less of a man if you're queer, you're not less of a man if you're trans. That's so important to make sure we recognize all of us.

Learn more about Dr. Weiston-Serdan here, and follow her on Twitter at @TWeiston.