Natalie Esikumo, a senior at Ridgefield High School, has been a mentor with the Ms President US program for three years. This year, she is Co-President of the Junior Board and is looking forward to expanding the program in her home state of Massachusetts.
Natalie, who is also a member of A Better Chance of Ridgefield, recently spoke at a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020 at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Ridgefield, CT. She told the auditorium of about 150 people about her journey from Kenya to America.
“I didn’t know how long it would take me to adapt,” she said of arriving in Ridgefield two years ago, “but I found a lot of students to be genuinely interested in who I am and where I was from.”
While most Ridgefield students have been welcoming, Esikumo said she has heard the same persistent stereotypes and witnessed the same racist imagery that has undermined African Americans for generations.
“I’ve seen and heard things that have angered me,” she said. “… Whether it’s blackface or written messages containing racial slurs, stereotypes persist — even in this very generous community.
“Diversity should be embraced, not shunned,” she added. “I have a rich cultural background that I can teach to others. … We must get to know somebody before stereotyping them because at the end of the day we have more similarities than differences.”
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