Letter to the Editor: J.A. still has work to do to pursue diversity and serve every student

April 15, 2024 | 12:02 am

Updated April 15, 2024 | 12:13 am

Letter to the Editor

A year ago, I served at the Owensboro Business Hall of Fame as an Ambassador for Junior Achievement. My principal selected me to represent Owensboro High School based on academic merit.

As J.A. ‘s Letter to the Editor mentioned, there were comments made by two individuals in our community regarding my and a peer’s race. One individual referred to the two of us as “monkeys,” and the other stated we resembled charcoal. While these comments were not said to our faces, instead overheard, there is logically no reasonable explanation for why they were said. These racial remarks were disgusting, unjustifiable, and embarrassing. To know that these individuals attended in support of J.A. and/or supported the recipients of the event and chose to speak about not only people of color but also children was absolutely disgraceful.

I kept my composure. However, I want to be very clear that I still felt disrespected. I was raised not to respond to harsh comments that do not represent me or my character, so no, those comments did not affect me like people may have assumed. But I am not everyone, nor is my response common.

Because of this disparity, I want to ensure that other students my age or younger can handle situations of that magnitude. With that motivation and passion, I have held guest speaker positions at Girls Inc., focusing on ensuring young women’s confidence and growth. Girls Inc. focuses on empowering girls to become bold and strong women, and I, too, am committed to its mission.

I am not writing this to exhaust a year-old situation. Instead, I believe I can officially state my perspective on the event and give suggestions on what to do in these dreaded situations. I am aware I may face the misnomer that I’m “too young” to understand the magnitude. My age does not indicate any lack of knowledge on how to treat a group you wish to educate, especially as a member of the group.

I do not believe J.A. is a racist organization for the racist comments made at an event they hosted. Yet, I do not feel there has been an effective shift in their behavior that indicates they are committed to continuing to pursue diversity as an organization.

As a student at Boston University, I am actively researching the effects of financial literacy education, a topic J.A. specializes in, and how it coincides with mental health within the Black community. I have had the opportunity to interview Black students at Owensboro High School and beyond to understand if they feel they are receiving a quality education on financial literacy.

Many students I polled noted they feel they need more adequate knowledge. J.A. could host workshops in spaces with students of color and partner with organizations fostering their belief in the “boundless potential of young people.”

If you want to continue to “strive to serve every student,” actively go to every student’s space. To create “a more equitable and just tomorrow,” we must look inward at our actions today and improve.

Written by
Mya Kelly

April 15, 2024 | 12:02 am

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