Ashley Bellinger Silver Knight

Ashley+Bellinger%27s+company+AmberAsh+strives+to+combat+the+absence+of+minority+images+through+paraphernalia+featuring+images+of+minority+women.

Ashley Bellinger

Ashley Bellinger's company AmberAsh strives to combat the absence of minority images through paraphernalia featuring images of minority women.

The Silver Knight Awards given annually by the Miami Herald are some of the nation’s most prestigious student awards that recognize outstanding individuals who have maintained good grades along with contributing significant service to their school or community.  Schools in the Miami-Dade and Broward counties nominate can nominate up to one student for each of the 15 categories – Art, Athletics, Business, Drama, English & Literature, General Scholarship, Journalism, Mathematics, Music and Dance, New Media, Science, Social Science, Speech, Vocational-Technical, and World Languages.  This student then applies and interviews before a panel of judges, who select one Silver Knight and three Honorable Mentions per category.  This year, Gables nominated six students, including Ashley Bellinger, the winner of the Dade Silver Knight Art Award.

When she was 14 years old, Bellinger started a project that would one day turn into AmberAsh.  This company aims to combat the absence of minority images in everyday life by converting everyday women into animations, and placing them on paraphernalia, in order to normalize minority images in society, something which Bellinger noticed was lacking.  The company strives to send the message that beauty does not take race into account, and give “young girls and women the ability to identify with an image that carries the same physical traits as them”, as Bellinger stated.

The inspiration for this project came from an ignorant comment aimed at a young African American girl, with whom Bellinger now identifies.  “She’s pretty but she’s dark skin and nappy headed.”  This comment would stay with Bellinger for the next years, determining how she felt others should view her.  After some time, she was able to overcome the effects of the ignorant comment, and instead channel these feelings into her project.  She began to notice that others identified very closely with her situation and decided she did not want her little sister growing up feeling the negative impacts that racism has on self-image.  Bellinger then began AmberAsh to help minorities in her community to identify with images that were otherwise absent in society.

AmberAsh sends the message that it’s ok to look different from others and still look just as beautiful.  If I’m able to impart this message and transcend the knowledge that I have gained, then my life will be fulfilled”, senior Ashley Bellinger said.

Bellinger described the process of applying for and receiving Silver Knight as “scary, yet fun and fulfilling”.  She, along with the other five Gables nominees established a “brother/sisterhood”, which made the nerve-wracking process that much easier.  Upon hearing her name at the awards ceremony, Bellinger said that despite her best efforts, she was unable to hold back the tears, “I was so shocked and all I could think was ‘you will not cry’ but I ended up crying anyway”.

If you see Bellinger in the hall, make sure to congratulate her on her outstanding achievement and wish her luck in her future endeavors.  Be sure to keep Ashley Bellinger and AmberAsh in mind, and if any underclassmen are inspired by her story, don’t hesitate to use this inspiration for another project that could end up making you a Silver Knight winner one day.