Phillips Exeter Academy
For the first time in Exeter Summer’s 102-year history, all learning took place completely online as a result of circumstances surrounding the global pandemic. Russell Weatherspoon, Exeter Summer's director, adapted the program to ensure it continued to foster the hallmark sense of community and conversation that is so transformative during a regular, in-person session and remain relevant to students perhaps already fatigued with remote learning.
Weatherspoon invited four alumni to share their stories with Exeter Summer students and help illuminate the effects of the pandemic and racial injustice. “The assemblies give the kids just a remarkable set of things to think about,” he says. “Things that are accessible, human and hopefully encouraging. … We’re not trying to solve the pandemic or the lack of racial consciousness, we’re just trying to move people’s heads and the conversation along.”
Christina, an alumna of PEA, was invited to share her newly penned monologue, "My White Privilege", which included thought-provoking lines like: “My white privilege tells me I am not a racist. I am not the problem. How can I be? I’m a white woman. A feminist.”
At the end of Murdock’s performance, Weatherspoon asked the students to do something “unusual.” “Let me invite you for 90 seconds for a little bit of conversation with yourself through note-taking whether you do that on an actual piece of paper, or you are just thinking,” he said. “To engage yourself not so much in response to the voice in this piece, but rather to the voice in your own life, which has been talking to you now for some weeks since George Floyd died, and the world responded as it has. Each of us has been trying to understand where we stand. We’ve certainly had a lot to say about other people, but I want you to take 90 seconds to just make some notes to yourself, with yourself, about where you are, whoever you are.”
Watch Christina's monologue "My White Privilege" below:
Note: The monologue is performed twice and the student Q&A begins at 38 minutes.
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