Becoming an Anti-racist School

Exeter condemns 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 students, employees and other community members of color.

On April 21, 2021, in a letter sent after a jury found Derek Chauvin guilty of the murder of George Floyd, Principal Rawson ’71; P’08 reinforced his call “to do all we can, as a school and as individuals, to combat anti-Black violence, racism and injustice, wherever it occurs.” He added, “But let us also recognize that this moment is only one step on a long journey for our nation toward becoming the just society that we want to be.” Rawson thanked students and adults for their commitment to realizing the school’s vision for equity and inclusion, and highlighted ongoing opportunities for discussion, reflection and support.

In February 2021, Principal Rawson ’71; P’08 shared an update on the anti-racism work the school is doing and on progress against specific initiatives announced in June 2020. He reaffirmed the school’s commitment to becoming an anti-racist school, and acknowledged the “alarming rise in anti-Asian violence.” He wrote, “We oppose racism and anti-race violence in all its forms, and are committed to preparing our students for the work they must do throughout their lives to that end.”

Principal Bill Rawson and trustee leadership shared this announcement of initiatives to institutionalize the practice of anti-racism at Exeter on June 29, 2020.

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 RawsonPrincipal Rawson adds Juneteenth to the school’s official holiday calendar. “As part of our ongoing commitment to equity and inclusion, we take this action to be more inclusive in our holidays and to acknowledge the importance of this day in the history of the United States,” Rawson wrote in his announcement.

WORD logoRead the June issue of “WORD,” the newsletter from Exeter’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, with columns by OMA proctors, Associate Dean Hadley Camilus, Dean Sherry Hernàndez, and Instructors Courtney Marshall and Jeremy Russell.

The Exonian logoExeter students start a new affinity space: Athletes for Racial Justice. “We want this space to be used as an outlet for athletes of color to talk about the discrimination and oppression they face within athletics — especially given a lot of Exeter's teams are predominantly white,” says Akili Tulloch '22, one of the founding members. Learn more about Athletes for Racial Justice in The Exonian.

Kevin Pajaro-Marinez and Gayatri Ramesh“I’m not estranged from many of the things our students experience like microaggressions or anti-Black racism,” says newly appointed Assistant Director of Equity and Inclusion Kevin Pajaro-Mariñez. “I try to bring home that my experiences and ideas mean real things for people in real life.” Meet Pajaro-Mariñez and Gayatri Ramesh, who recently moved to a new position as assistant dean of faculty, where she will focus on hiring and retaining faculty of color.

Identity-N-Me logoOn “Identity-N-Me,” Associate Dean of Multicultural Student Affairs Hadley Camilus hosts interviews with PEA faculty and others. “Identity is not limited to race and gender,” Camilus writes in the podcast introduction. “The intention is to have broad conversations that span those categories.” Listen to recent episodes.  

WORDRead the April issue of “WORD,” the newsletter from Exeter’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, which reflects on winter term programs, recent faculty hires and more.

The Exonian logoThe Exonian honors the victims of the Atlanta spa shootings with a powerful special issue. “We name this tragedy for what it is: a hate crime rooted in racism and misogyny,” writes Daniel Zhang, editor-in-chief of The Exonian.

Courses of Instruction booklet coverThe Exonian covers new courses for the 2021-2022 academic year, including many that expand the Academy’s focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Stephanie BramlettWatch Director of Equity and Inclusion Stephanie Bramlett welcome students to Exeter’s 2021 MLK Day. “Homophobia, transphobia are fully alive,” she says. “Anti-Blackness, anti-immigrant, anti-Asian, anti-Semitic: these aggressions continue to terrorize our communities. And that is why we are here today. We’ve come a long way but we aren’t done yet. As a country and as a global community we have some unfinished business.”

Martin Luther King Jr.Roxane Gay '92 gave a powerful keynote to Exeter’s 31st celebration of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 18. Watch her remarks and an extended Q&A with students. As part of the Academy’s observance of MLK Day, students performed “UnSilenced,” which the program’s producers describe as a “social justice evening of art, poetry, music, and more.” Watch “UnSilenced.”

Principal William RawsonAfter canceling classes on Jan. 6, 2021, in the wake of events in Washington, Principal Rawson addressed assembly on Jan. 12: “The events of last week and the actions that we witnessed are absolutely abhorrent and contrary to everything we believe in at Exeter. ... The utter lawlessness, the pervasive images and expressions of white supremacy, and of hatred of Jews, and the violent attacks on fellow human beings that resulted in death – all this is shocking, utterly appalling, and very difficult to process or comprehend.” Read his statement.

Roxane GayIn a New York Times piece titled “We’ve Seen the Ugly Truth About America,” Roxane Gay '92 writes about the insurrection at the Capitol in Washington. “On Wednesday, the world bore witness to white supremacy unchecked. I nearly choked on the bitter pill of what white people who no doubt condemned Black Lives Matter protesters as ‘thugs’ felt so entitled to do.” Gay will keynote Exeter's MLK Day.

Since 1878Read The Exonian’s Since 1878, a multipart series on race at the Academy. The Exonian board notes: “The series does not provide a complete overview of racist events over the years in question. Additionally, research draws heavily from The Exonian’s archives, which present a biased depiction of racial dynamics at the Academy. Instead, the articles offer a portrait of The Exonian, the Academy and the nation, decade by decade, by highlighting pieces published in the paper.” The series includes an interview with Nikole-Hannah Jones, whose work on The New York Times 1619 Project inspired Since 1878.

Sherry HernandezRead an interview with Sherry Hernández, interim dean of Multicultural Affairs, who is working with the Office of Multicultural Affairs team to support international students, students of color and LGBTQ students who seek engagement and advocacy in their affinity and cultural spaces.

Maxine ParkIn her opinion piece in The Exonian, “What does an anti-racist Exeter look like?,” Maxine Park ’22 provides her answer: “Exeter cannot be satisfied until it is possible that all faculty could be faculty of color, until it is possible that all students could be students of color. In order to be truly anti-racist, we must reach a point where minority students seeing a teacher that looks like them is not inspirational, but normal. ...  We must reach a point where anti-racist policies are no longer needed to maintain an anti-racist culture.”

Courtney MarshallHear an nhpr interview with English Instructor Courtney Marshall, recorded just before the start of the 2020 Black New England Conference where she was a panelist. Marshall talks about fitness, particularly for Black women, and how the mere act of walking has been criminalized and used as a form of resistance.

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.

What we are reading

Members of our campus community share what they are reading.

From English Instructor Courtney Marshall: 

I’m reading these books together because they are linked by the word, “how.”  Anti-racism invites us to interrogate the ways we create community and make change.

How we get freeHow We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective. Edited by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor.

In How We Get Free, Taylor demonstrates how the Black feminism theorized in the 1977 Combahee River Collective Statement continues to animate contemporary organizing. Black feminism does not simply name oppression; it makes analysis of oppression the key to political action.  We need not always create something new; let’s look at what’s already been written. 

How we fight white supremacyHow We Fight White Supremacy. By Akiba Solomon and Kenrya Rankin.

The political action of fighting white supremacy takes many forms. The contributors Solomon and Rankin fight it through means as diverse as comics, hashtags and marches.  We fight white supremacy by loving Blackness and Black people with all our hearts. We start websites like Therapy for Black Girls, seek out mentors and mentees, or simply bear witness to another Black person’s story.  We show up for one another. 

How we show upHow We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community. By Mia Birdsong.

Mia Birdsong asks us to be thoughtful about friendships and intentional about connections. Let’s experience all the ways that people can be with and for one another. Interdependence and relationship building are the ways we get to the world we deserve.

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. 

Organizations

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.

Roxane GayRoxane Gay ’92, our 2021 MLK Day keynote speaker, author of many books and opinion writer for major newspapers and magazines. Read her pieces in The New York Times. On Twitter: @rgay

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