Exeter’s summer school is a place where people from all different cultural backgrounds come together. For example, two students one black one white, had a conversation on racial issues. They were asked how they met and a series of other questions to test whether or not different cultural backgrounds affect their friendship.
There have been many incidents regarding police brutality, racial profiling and the death of people of color. This prevents relationships from developing and causes a rift between friends — or not. Take Tatyana Brown (17 years old, lives in Cilley Hall) and Leslie Quijada (17, also in Cilley). Tatyana is black while Leslie is white. Both Leslie and Tatyana share the same campus back home in Fayetteville, North Carolina. They were both in shock — they had no idea they were both going to Exeter.
According to Leslie “Our friendship is fairly recent, mostly due to the fact that when we first met, I was already associated with a racist bigot, and she (Tatyana) didn’t really want to get close to me. So racism as overall issue affected our relationship in the way that it delayed a friendship from forming.”
The first question was “How do you feel about police brutality and racial profiling?” Tatyana started off by saying “If you judge people’s innocence based on their skin tone, style of dress or stature, policing is the wrong profession for you. Colored skin is not a weapon, and it needs to stop being treated as such.”
Leslie agreed. “I think it’s murder, plain and simple. This is what could be considered a genocide: the systematic killing of a race, gender, ethnicity or religion of people. It is not self-defense, nor is it necessary.”
Despite them having similar views about police brutality they both had something different to say when asked if they feel threatened or uncomfortable about the particular topic at hand.
“I used to for awhile.” Leslie began. “I felt as if it wasn’t my place like I was intruding on something that wasn’t my business. It took me a while to realize that if I wanted things to change I needed to make it my business and help how I could.”
Tatyana had said, “I don’t feel threatened or uncomfortable talking about it as I do experience actual discrimination.” Tatyana explained how one time while driving to school a police car followed her all the way there. She finished off by saying it was an overall scary experience.
They were asked whether or not they believed police brutality will end and if so how.
“Black people need to realize we aren’t at war against all white people, or cops as individuals,” Tatyana explained. “We are at war against a system. A system that was not built to benefit us, but to oppress us. It is illogical to try to go through that system and adhere to its rules in an attempt to change it. Whether or not this violence ends depends on what means black people cumulatively take to try to end it.”
The final question; has this conflict affected your friendship?
According to Tatyana “Yes it has. I resented her initially because she associated herself with a girl known as a racist in our school.”
In addition to that Leslie said, “the shootings that have happened recently haven’t impacted this new friendship negatively. Rather, I’d like to think it’s strengthened it, providing the opportunity for my insight into her personal experiences, and vice versa.”
Everywhere you go, there may be people who you don’t agree with and may not get along with. However, this is not the case all the time. Go out and make friendships that will help you learn from each other.