I remember thinking that I had been hired to teach them something.
I was a sophomore in college and I had been hired to be a Summer Resident Assistant for a youth program that wanted to save 100 “at-risk” young people of color in Dallas, Texas. I had been hired to transform the lives of these young folks and I had one summer to do it! I thought it was possible. I was nineteen years old. I had a lot to learn.
Imagine this: Day 1, 100 thirteen and fourteen year olds are arriving. I decided that I needed to be tougher, a little rougher in my walk, talk, and attitude. So I chose right then and there to bring out my inner rap star and picked up the fakest slang imaginable. It was an absolute disaster. In the first 10 minutes one of the young guys heard me talk and asked, “Rodney, why are you talking like that? You can be who you are man. We’re going to like you no matter what.”
I learned they were here to teach me something. I realized that I didn’t have to hide in my life and that the lessons would come. I just had to be open. That experience truly changed my life and helped me learn to be me! It was my first experience of a job opening me up to myself.
And, now there’s Resource Generation.
I’m grateful for my time at Resource Generation, the past year and 1/2 has been nothing but amazing. I am thankful for the many lessons that I’ve learned while working with some of the most brilliant people in social justice philanthropy. My time here has been nothing less than stellar – and I am thankful for the opportunity to learn about what it means to be a young black man with privilege and how to use that privilege to change the world.
I am looking forward to seeing how this organization continues to thrive in the hands of Elspeth Gilmore and Mike Gast as they steer RG into the next phase of growth and power!
Please feel free to stay in touch. You can reach me at: [email protected]
Rodney McKenzie, Jr.