Eva McKend works at a news station, WCAX, local to Burlington, Vermont. Originally from New York City, she attended both Swarthmore College and Syracuse University. Eva came to the Green Mountain State in early 2015 to pursue her current position, the morning news anchor.I’m originally from New York City. I moved to Vermont in January of 2015 to start working as the morning anchor at WCAX. I’m really excited to be here. I know sometimes when some people of color get to the Green Mountain State they are shocked and disappointed there aren’t a lot of other people of color and they start planning their exit strategy. I’m not at all in that camp. Vermont is a beautiful place to live and I immediately knew I wanted to take full advantage of being here.
Since moving here I’ve made many friends. People have invited me into their homes for dinner. There’s been a fair amount of outreach since I relocated but I’ve also networked a lot in effort to find community.
I grew up in a predominately white environment, so I’m used to being in very white settings. I went to a private school in New York City on the Upper East Side of Manhattan for 13 years. Throughout my time there black girls would come and go, but when it was time to graduate I was the only black woman in my grade.
I went to Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, a predominately white liberal arts college. For graduate school I went to Syracuse University, which was more diverse but still a predominately white institution.
When I was a child I went to sleepaway camp in New Hampshire and some summers I was the only black girl out of roughly 300 people at the camp. I’m quite accustomed to being in majority white settings. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable but sometimes I do wonder if some of my relationships would be different.
I question if certain people would try to grow more substantive and meaningful relationships with me if I were not a woman of color. I don’t think racism is always overt or intentional but if you look around and your friend group is homogenous and you always date people that look like you, that’s a situation of implicit bias. I feel like I’m probably a victim of that in a sense but that’s not unique to Vermont—that is a burden of living in America.
There are probably some relationships that never had a shot because I’m a dark skinned black woman and all that comes with that. Subconsciously, not intentionally, some people reject that but if I dwell on all of the missed connections, I might miss out on people who truly want to get to know me and all I have to offer.
The challenges I face as a person of color in Vermont are really no different than the challenges I would face as a person of color anywhere else. I really don’t see how being here is any more difficult than being a black woman anywhere else. The challenges I face here are the same challenges I would face as a black woman in New York City.
Burlington is a walkable and happening city. I would describe it as a little high-brow, sophisticated and smart. There’s great food, smart people and it's aesthetically beautiful being on the waterfront. As a place to live, it doesn’t get much better.
I most enjoy the state’s natural beauty. I love spending time on the lake in the summer and going hiking. There are so many beautiful hiking trails throughout the state—that has been the highlight for me.
Every weekend in Vermont could be a vacation. There are festivals, great hikes and international art exhibits. There is always the opportunity to explore a different part of the state. My life is culturally rich living in Vermont.
Profile image courtesy of WCAX.