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White privilege' high school essay contest in ritzy New England town aims to 'increase awareness

Westport, Connecticut (Image source: YouTube screen cap)

If you're a high schooler who lives in Westport, Connecticut, you could end up $1,000 richer if you nail first prize in a municipally sponsored essay contest — and all you have to do is describe in 1,000 words or less your thoughts on "white privilege."

"As the nation faces historic social shifts relating to race and identity, young people will find themselves at the crossroads of a different America," the page about the contest on the town's website notes, adding that "white privilege" became "a topic during the recent presidential election."

The point of the competition is to "increase awareness, foster understanding and promote understanding in this arena," the contest page adds.

Other questions the essay could explore include: "To what extent do you think this privilege exists? What impact do you think it has had in your life — whatever your racial or ethnic identity — and in our society more broadly?"

The town's municipal website — citing the 2010 census — indicates that of Westport's 26,391 residents, 24,429 are white, and the town's median family income is $152,894. It might not come as a surprise that one website says it's the ninth-best place to live in the state, and another lists Westport as the sixth snobbiest place in the state.

Co-sponsoring the contest is TEAM Westport — Together Effectively Achieving Multiculturalism — a town government board that aims to "achieve and celebrate a more welcoming, multicultural community."

The group's chair Harold Bailey said: “A primary focus and concern of our organization since its inception has been the impact of the town’s relatively low levels of racial and ethnic diversity on our children. This year’s essay topic provides our young people an opportunity to reflect upon that impact, and make their personal statements about it in very meaningful ways.”

Also, second prize earns $750 and third prize $500, the contest notes.

And the essays are due Feb. 27 — so get thee a crackin'.

(H/T: Heat Street)

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