This article was originally seen on Vermont Professionals of Color Network. Photography by Alison Redlich. Used with permission from Kesha Ram Hinsdale.
What do you enjoy about being a professional of color in VT?
I have always thought of Vermont as this cozy, warm little house, with fire burning and a tea kettle on. You look around and so many people are happy and loving each other. But then there are some folks out in the cold looking through the window, and seeing this incredible community. They’re seeing what is possible and the support that Vermonters extend to each other, but they feel like they can’t get in to access it. This feeling is why I ran for office at 21 – to open that door and to allow more folks to be a part of the conversation and community. I enjoy being a professional of color here because I look around me and see so many of us doing the same. Paving the way for the next generation and then looking back to make sure we are bringing along our community with us.
What advice would you have wanted to receive about being a VT professional before arriving?
When I talk to young folks who want to run for office or enter the professional and business world, I think it’s important to be very upfront that you will stand out. But, that is mostly a good thing if you are up for it. At the same time, it can be exhausting, so you have to lean on the BIPOC folks around you. You have a strong support system of people from the Vermont Professionals of Color Network who understand you without the need to explain yourself. That is something to fall back on so you can lift others up with you as you rise.
What do you wish others knew about living in VT that you’ve discovered?
I hope everyone knows that we have each other’s backs here. I felt alone when I first moved here, but immediately was lent a hand and an ear by so many mentors who are now like family. In the work that I have engaged in to encourage more young people of color to run for office, my biggest goal has always been for the participants to know that they have a large family around the state that will be there for them no matter what. The personal is political, so reach out whatever you’re facing, and you will be supported.
Are there other things (events/opportunities/etc.) you’d like to share with the VT BIPOC community?
Those who know me well may have heard this before, but please, run for office! From school board to State Representative to the Governor’s office, we need your voice at the table. Running for office and putting yourself out there can be extremely vulnerable and we are working to create support systems to help you run a campaign, win, and lead with support once elected. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re interested in taking the leap. We would all love to connect you with resources, networks, and support.
Why are you a member of Vermont Professionals of Color Network?
Community, community, community. Full stop. It is a deeply powerful experience to be able to stay connected to people of color across the state in a network of support and mutual understanding. I’m incredibly grateful for this network so that we can lean on each other. I know many people of color love this state and want this state to love them back. I am here to help you feel loved and to make your home here.
To read the rest of the interview with Kesha Ram Hinsdale, and others BIPOC community member profiles, visit the VT Professionals of Color Network website at www.vtpoc.net.
Vermont Professionals of Color Network (VT PoC) exists to increase the visibility of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) statewide, and increasing access to statewide resources to the BIPOC community. To join the VT Professionals of Color Network member network to keep up on all the news and events across the state, click here.