A local nonprofit is helping Black youth in Idaho connect with their culture through community outreach.
Brown Like Me is focused on connecting youth in the community with peers of similar backgrounds. Founder and CEO Shari Baber started the nonprofit about three years ago as a way to connect for celebrations—but it quickly turned into an entire community.
"We knew it was going to be magical, we just didn't know how much," Baber said. "I was going to have birthday parties so kids would have other brown kids at their birthday parties. That's all I was trying to do--but it turned into so much more."
According to census data, 93% of Idaho's population is white, while 0.9% is Black. The nonprofit also helps adoptive parents of Black children learn about the importance of cultivating ties to their kids' culture.
"Everyone in that space has curly hair and brown skin and white parents, or biracial parents. We live in a place that is predominantly white. It's very hard to find a mirror image of your family when your family looks a little bit different," Baber explained. "It's been super life-changing for a lot of families."
Jessica Lynn is one of those families. She has an 11-year-old adopted daughter and she says building community connection is an essential part of raising her.
"The earlier you can surround them with that love and acceptance, education and resource, you're giving them so much. You're putting them ahead of the game," Lynn said.
Brown Like Me meets monthly, and Saturday they're holding their Kwanzaa celebration from 10:00 a.m. until noon at Central Academy in Meridian.