“Kent Place is where I learned alongside, and became close friends with, people of diverse backgrounds and identities. In my memory, I didn’t think much about our differences. I was smitten by the brilliance, bravery, empathy, kindness, and hilarity of girls I wanted to be around, share secrets with, be silly with, be serious with, be honest with, and grow up with.
“I now understand that I didn’t think about myself and my friends through a societal and historical lens of race because when you’re white, you travel through the world without your race being marked. I learned about slavery and Jim Crow in history and English classes, but I don’t recall studying inequity in the present day. Instead, we talked about ‘diversity,’ a buzz word of the 1990s. In my view, diversity in the ’90s was the idea that if a community becomes more diverse, it’s better because it’s strengthened by an array of backgrounds and perspectives. My moral comfort at the time emerged from the thought that if more places could just become more diverse, like Kent Place, then we’d have a better world.
“Fast-forward 19 years. I’m now a nonprofit executive working in education reform. I think about equity and inclusion a lot. I spend a lot of quality time with my KP girls, and recently I got into a late night conversation with a close friend who identifies as black. I asked her: What was it like for you at Kent Place?
“I should have been asking this question 19 years ago. Now, I think about the great opportunity that the Ethics Institute at Kent Place — a program that wasn’t founded until seven years after I graduated — provides: a call to action to grapple with questions of equity and inclusion, near and far. My advice is to make sure you don’t hide behind the ‘far.’ For those of us with privilege, it can be a lot more comfortable to dig into questions of an abstract and global nature than to confront how marginalization and inequity affect the lived experience of those in our own community, including those who we love.
“You are brave and brilliant Kent Place girls. When grappling with what’s ‘far,’ your brilliance will carry you. When grappling with what’s ‘near,’ be brave.”