The YWCA of the Quad-Cities recently held its inaugural “Race Against Racism” in Rock Island. I’m a white woman of privilege. I grew up and then later raised my two children in a lovely neighborhood in Rock Island where there were always kids out riding their bikes and playing, neighbors working in their gardens or walking their dogs and I never had to think about locking my door. A mere mile from this idyllic existence, though, was a whole different world: abject poverty, crime, violence and hunger.

Here’s the thing: it was completely an accident of birth that I was born into a family that lived in my neighborhood rather than the one such a short distance away, but a million miles removed from my reality. I’m nothing special, I didn’t do anything to deserve my advantages…it’s just the way it happened and something I’m going to have a serious conversation with God about someday. Because I have been so abundantly blessed, I have some very serious responsibilities to do everything in my power to lift up those of my brothers and sisters who face struggles I can’t even begin to imagine.

The last 12 months, I’ve been on a journey of discovery. I’ve been reaching out to a number of black and brown members of our community and asking them to have a real conversation about race, their personal experiences of racism and all the things they want a “I don’t know what I don’t know” white woman to know. These individuals have humbled me with their trust, their stories and their openness. We’ve shared laughter, tears, frustrations and hugs. I still have so much to learn and will continue to lean on these important new friends.

Huiskamp Collins Investments, LLC was proud to be a sponsor of the “Race Against Racism” and support a 5K Walk team. We were young and old (Myiah, my mentee rode her sparkly purple bike and we also had a stroller!) and black, brown and white. We were proud and strong. Myiah, in her 10-year-old wisdom, said it best, “Heidi, we shouldn’t have racism. We’re all the same. Except you, because you don’t like ice cream!” I guess there’s that. As for me, I’m voting for Myiah for President in 2050!