Guest Post … Fall 2017

A note from our President: Shelby VanHorn is one of the girls that I mentored back in Meridian. She is currently living in the Netherlands with her fiancé. She shared this with me and I asked I could share it here.

I see so many things on Facebook, the news, real life, etc, by people in my life and people like them that really disappoints me.

I come from a small town with (literally) 99% white people. That’s not an exaggeration; I can count on one hand the people of colour who I went to school with. And I really do think the lack of understanding from a lot of these small town people does not come from malicious intent, just serious ignorance about people of colour.

Growing up I was really lucky to have been involved with a church convention for young girls, many of whom were black girls, and many from NYC, and specifically Queens.

Before I spent time with these young women, I had met literally three black people in my life. A girl I went to school with, her younger sister, and their father. And while her influence in my life definitely kept me from learning a lot of harmful, racist habits, I had the mindset that they weren’t “really” black. (Honestly my problematic behavior was rampant.)

When I went to AB GIRLS, the conference for young Baptist girls, I was exposed to many young girls, women, and role models of colour.

At the time I definitely didn’t see how these women changed me, but over the five or so years I went to this conference and ever since, I see these women and women who were once young girls and I see myself and how I have benefited from experiencing the normalcy of having friends of colour. When I was growing up with my one black friend, it was easy to not see her as black because she didn’t fit the stereotype of how “other” black people were supposed to be. But knowing all of these women, all of whom are amazing and totally normal people, that stereotype of “other” and “different” went away on its own.

I guess what I am trying to say is that all of the people, at least those in my life, who maintain racist thinking and ideology are still living in a world where they have never experienced PoC (people of color) as regular people. That is why the “black friend” argument is so ridiculous. Knowing one person is not enough for you to learn. They will either fit your stereotype or you’ll view them as the exception. If you live in a place where you don’t speak to many PoC and you’re wondering if you may be racist or worried about things you think or say, just go meet people. Honestly, all you have to do is meet people and talk to them and understand that they are just people.

-Thank you Shelby for sharing.

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