My name is Esther Schmidt. I am a Providence alum. I graduated with an undergraduate degree in 2013 and a Master’s degree in 2016. I am a mixed race individual. Racism is not new to me. Unfortunately, I’ve had many encounters and experiences with racism. I have found that my experiences have all been echoed and amplified by other fellow BIPOCs (Black, Indigenous, People of Color).
Often times, I’ve heard people say, “Well, I see no colour.” This phrase has often left me feeling confused and erased, as if because of my skin colour, I am not seen. The truth of the matter is that we all see skin colour. And I am proud to be a mixed race individual. God made us all unique and in the image of Himself. The words we use may not be intended for harm but can sting and fester old wounds.
I believe that Providence can respond in a positive way to write a new narrative, be a catalyst for positive change and take steps in the right direction. We can create a space where BIPOCs are able to connect and share. Racism can be addressed in the classroom. Having open discussions in the classroom setting allow for voices to be heard and change to occur.
We can all personally take initiative in learning about racism, learning about ways we are prejudiced against someone because, believe it or not, we all have biases. It is important to be aware of our biases in order to move forward and to begin to change.
One thing I’ve learned is that we cannot change others – that has to come from within. “Shaking the branches of racism is not enough, we need to dig up the roots and replant them” – Unknown.
Most importantly, we must have grace, love, compassion and empathy as we move forward in learning, listening and changing.
Esther Schmidt was born in the United States but moved to Kenya as an infant. After graduating from high school in Nairobi, Kenya, she moved to Otterburne, MB to attend Providence. Esther graduated with a BA in Intercultural Studies and an MA in Counselling. She worked as a staff/faculty member for about two years. She currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband (Jon in the photo above).