With a new generation, an opportunity to heal
As a child, Liz Hensley grew up in a household where she wasn’t made aware that she was different. It wasn’t until she was 15 and had moved to Anchorage that she first felt the sting of racism and made to feel like an outsider.
Hensley, a daughter of both Native and Caucasian heritage, says that Alaskans don’t talk about racism enough. While they bring up topical stories, they never discuss the deep scars that racism inflicted upon the Alaska Native people.
Through her experiences however, Liz has come to realize that young people are the best-poised generation to begin dialogue on racism and begin to heal its wounds. As she reflects on the situation, she relates that she wants a different future for her young daughter; a future that is free from racism and one that allows her daughter to look at what really matters in life.
Hensley is a volunteer with the First Alaskans Institute, which focuses on the integration of Native values, ways of life and traditional knowledge into Tribal governments, Tribal organizations, and relationships with other governments and organizations. The Institute aims to affect a policy landscape that works with Alaska Natives to improve the lives of Native People.