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Engaging in Anti-racism

Exeter condemns anti-Black racism in all its forms, and we are committed as a community to recognizing and eradicating it. In doing so, we must acknowledge and address the ways in which the Academy perpetuates racial inequities and the harm that inflicts on our Black students, employees and other community members of color.

Principal Bill Rawson ’71 and trustee leadership shared this announcement of initiatives to institutionalize the practice of anti-racism at Exeter (June 29) and this response sent to the Academy community (June 5).

The following resources are an attempt to help inform and expand the conversations we must all continue to have, and the actions we must all take, to effect real and lasting change for Black Americans and other persons of color. The strength of our school is most apparent when we come together, lean in to our differences, and learn in the Harkness tradition.

Voices from our community

A collection of writings and remarks from members of the Exeter community. As more is shared with us, we will add it here.

Principal Bill Rawson delivering the 2020 Opening Assembly outdoorsIn his 2020 Opening Assembly address, Principal Rawson reaffirmed the school’s commitment to “taking important, concrete steps toward realizing our vision for diversity, equity and inclusion” this year. “I encourage all of you to commit to this work,” he said to students. “When it feels a little uncomfortable, commit yourselves even more fully. The work that you do here to help us achieve our vision for diversity, equity and inclusion is just one way you will be preparing yourselves to lead purposeful lives.”

Harkness table and chairsThe English Department faculty met over the summer to develop a statement to help guide the department’s ongoing anti-racism work. Read their statement.

Julia Sobol, Meredith Hitchkock, Julio Peterson, Christina MurdockExeter Summer assemblies shine a light on the global impacts of the pandemic and racial injustice. Dr. Julia Sobol ’94, Christina Murdock ’05, Julio Peterson ’86 and Meredith Hitchcock ’06 speak with students about their lives and experiences. Learn more.

Stephanie BramlettIn the Instagram post “We hear you. We are listening.” Director of Equity and Inclusion Stephanie Bramlett encourages everyone to read the stories being shared by Black students and alums, and outlines some of the work that has started to make a better, more inclusive Exeter.

Sandra Guzmán“This is how a country’s culture begins to shift, one small white American town at a time, one white neighbor at a time, white locals leading the charge to transform America’s deep-seated culture of white supremacy,” writes Sandra Guzmán in an NBC News essay. Guzmán describes her experiences in “Amy Cooper in Central Park exposed the danger of birding while Black. But I've always known it.

Scott EdwardsScott Edwards ’81, Harvard ornithology professor, bikes across the country with a message: Black Lives Matter.

Toyin Augustus with students from ExeterPhysical Education Instructor Toyin Augustus addresses the crowd at the March for Justice in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Russell WeatherspoonDirector of Exeter Summer Russell Weatherspoon introduces a “Virtual Harkness Discussion on Racism,” one in a series hosted by Exeter for the alumni community, with a reflection on the current state of racism in America and ways to work toward “a more perfect union.”

Eddie Perry at ExeterLessons to learn from the life and death of Eddie Perry '85” addresses the shooting by police of the 17-year-old Black man days after graduation and Perry’s imperfect Exeter experience.

Alex MyersEnglish Instructor Alex Myers '96 and Student Council members address racism during Closing Assembly.

Mark EdwardsTrustee Mark Edwards '78; P'12, P'14 offers his reflections as co-founder and CEO of Upstream.org.

Roxane Gay at ExeterRoxane Gay ’92, an Exeter alumna, author of "Bad Feminist," "Hunger" and other books, and contributing opinion writer to The New York Times. Read her latest pieces here. Follow her on Twitter @rgay.

What we are reading

Members of our campus community share what they are reading.

From Stephanie Bramlett, director of equity and inclusion:

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgo
By Mikki Kendall. Listen to Black women. Believe Black women. Hood feminism is radically intersectional and inclusive. I think it is a particularly important read as the protests for Black Lives Matter become more and more diverse. The support is greatly appreciated, but only if that support is inclusive. Plus, as PEA turns its attention to celebrating our 50th anniversary of including women and girls in Harkness education, this is a must-read. 

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America 
By Ibram X. Kendi. I first read this book when it came out in 2016. It was then, and now, an important history lesson that details the way race was built into a system of oppression. It’s a dense read, and I keep a pen and a notepad with me so that I can write down questions and look them up later.

“How Race and Racism Affect Our Friendships”
A collaboration between NPR’s “Code Switch” team and WNYC’s “Death, Sex & Money” podcast. Since the pandemic started, my Office of Multicultural Affairs colleagues and I have been listening to a weekly podcast and discussing it as a group. In the current racial climate, this has been one of the most crucial podcast conversations we have had.

Add your voice

Support diversity, equity and inclusion at the Academy. Learn more.

Provide us with your best thinking about how we, as a community, can address issues of race at Exeter. Send an email to DEI@exeter.edu.

Anti-racism resources

The following resources are offered to help further the conversation, inform your perspective, and encourage continued engagement and action.

Resource Collections

List of advocacy and direct-action nonprofits, with links for donations, maintained by Wynter Tracey ’19. 

Academy Library Anti-racism Resources, which include books; articles and websites; videos and podcasts; and teaching resources.

Educate Yourself, a collection of resources from Black Lives Matter.

"Talking about Race" portal, from the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

An Antiracist Reading List, by Ibram X. Kendi

“A Reading List on Race for Allies Who Want To Do Better,” from WBUR.

137 Ways to Donate in Support of Black Lives and Communities of Color, from New York Magazine. 

Contact your senators, congress persons, state and locally elected officials to make your opinions known. Here is a list of U.S. elected officials. 


Black Lives Matter 

Equal Justice Initiative

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Voices for justice

Here is a short list of writers who are reaching out with important messages about racism and police violence. All have spoken at Exeter.

Ibram X. Kendi at ExeterIbram X. Kendi, our 2020 MLK Day keynote speaker, author of "How To Be An Antiracist," and director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. The center’s website contains links to important readings. On Twitter: @DrIbram

Bryan Stevenson at ExeterBryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a human rights organization in Montgomery, Alabama. Read a recent Q&A with him in The New Yorker.  On Twitter: @eji_org. Read about his second visit to Exeter, as the Bragdon Fellow. 

Charles Blow at ExeterCharles Blow, op-ed columnist for The New York Times. Read his pieces here and follow him on Twitter @CharlesMBlow

Jericho Brown at ExeterJericho Brown, the 2020 Lamont Poet and winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. Read an interview with him here. On Twitter: @jerichobrown

Jelani CobbJelani Cobb, staff writer at The New Yorker and professor of journalism at Columbia University. Read his pieces here and follow him on Twitter @jelani9

"Being an anti-racist is not a period of time or an event; it’s a lifestyle. To commit to being an anti-racist school means that you, me — all of us — have to work to be anti-racist educators. …  As you are redesigning the way you teach your courses ... also redesign to decenter whiteness and center the voices and experiences of people of color, redesign to leverage the knowledge and experiences that your students are bringing into your courses, and redesign to make space for your students and colleagues of color to thrive."

—Director of Equity and Inclusion Stephanie Bramlett, at a June 12 faculty meeting

DEI Vision Statement

We're committed to assembling a diverse community, and teaching skills, modeling behaviors, providing resources and cultivating the environment that unlocks the richness of that diversity.

Go to the page titled DEI Vision Statement