She’s hoping to find herself! Season 5 of TLC’s hit reality TV series Return To Amish has a few old familiar faces, but it also had a few new cast members who are choosing to leave the Amish and Mennonite communities in Pennsylvania in order to assimilate into the English world. But for new Return To Amish star Shelly, leaving the Mennonite community has more to do with finding out her true identity as a woman of color because Shelly grew up as one of the only black people in a mostly white community.

“My biological mom was in jail and I got adopted into the Mennonites when I was five years old,” Shelly said, and she explained that it wasn’t until she was six or seven years old when realized she was treated differently.

“I got told in church many a time that there’s really no hope for me cause that I’m the black girl, I’m adopted,” Shelly continued. “I was called a n—a pretty often like by my cousins like really often. They were all white. They would always degrade me and not include me in stuff. I would often end up at home crying. I felt really alone. The only people I associate with is my mom and my grandpas.”

Even though Shelly said she was both nervous to leave the Mennonite community that she grew up in, she was also excited because she wanted to learn more about her past so that she could find her identity.

“I liked growing up Mennonite, but I would like to see where I actually came from. I don’t know what it is to be a black woman,” Shelly said. “When I was a Mennonite, I never discovered my music and the culture of the black people. I was always brought up around white people and I had to adapt to white people life, but I watch other black people and I see stuff that they’re doing and it’s like, that’s totally me. So that’s something that I hope to discover and hope to become an empowering black woman.”

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