With my columns, I usually prefer to talk about my life and the random adventures that transpire in the life of a 20-something Kansas City transplant in Newton, Iowa.
But something happened last week that kind of bothered me. A few people were offended by the article I wrote on Ella Daft — because of her sexual orientation.
This is America, we all the right to have our opinions, but when a young woman who is a product of the educational system in our community gets $40,000 to go to an in-state school, there should be jubilation, not rejection.
I’m very proud of the article I wrote and I’m even more proud of everything Ella has done. To accomplish what she has accomplished while still in high school is amazing. Not only is Ella an overachiever at Newton Senior High School, she has been dually enrolled and acquired a number of credits at DMAAC. When she goes to the University of Northern Iowa, she will be a Freshman/Junior hybrid.
Ella is the youngest child of a big family and has still managed to carve out her own identity. Her mother, Charlet, is a teacher at Basics & Beyond Alternative High School, two of her siblings are teachers as well, and another sibling has a doctorate.
Education is very important to the Dafts.
Ella’s mother has told me how proud she is of Ella and everything she has done. She is also a regular at Congregational United Church of Christ in Newton, whose motto of “No matter who you are, no matter where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here,” should be universally adopted.
I figured people would be happy to know what one of their own has done. Some of the reaction has been shocking, to say the least. She didn’t get this scholarship for simply being gay. Ella worked hard, and the scholarship requires demonstrated activism in the LGBTQ community, as well as a generous portion of time spent in service to one’s community.
You need a GPA higher than a 3.0, and you have to show high moral ethical standards and conduct. Would people feel differently if they knew one student I’ve covered quite frequently was Catholic, or that I was a Baptist?
I’ve found my place here in Iowa and I’ve felt welcome ever since. A lot of people back home joked with me before I moved here based off their misconceptions of Iowa.
I was told that I was going to be the only black person here, and that I better “watch my back for the Klan,” among other similar types of comments, which we all laughed at because none us had ever actually spent an extensive amount of time here before. Of course, all of it turned out to be false and Iowa is pretty awesome.
And for those reading back home, no I am not the only black person in town, thank you very much.
Now back to Ella. She is a phenomenal young woman, and she is going to go so far in her life. She is the type of person you want to return home after college to help make an impact on the community.
Why would you deter a person that brings so much to the table from wanting to come home?
I’m not here to judge anybody for how they live their life. My personal faith tells me that there is only One Being who can judge us all, but I want to close this week’s Take with a quote from Ella I couldn’t fit into the original story.
“It was really tough,” Daft said of coming out. “But times are changing. There are a lot of people who will say, ‘Just sit back and wait, it’ll get better.’ But, what I think is really important to recognize is all the people that are working to make it get better right now … American citizens should feel comfortable with who they are and should know that there is a community out there that supports them.”
Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641)-792-312, ext. 426, or at firstname.lastname@example.org via email.