Drama unfolds at the prestigious Lawrenceville School. Maya Peterson, the first black student body president at the pricy school, was forced to resign earlier this year after a series of photographs surfaced online, showing her mocking the white male students.
In one photograph, Peterson is seen wearing a Yale University sweatshirt, L.L. Bean duck boots and holding a hockey stick, saying it’s representative of the typical “Lawrenceville boi.” She also added hashtags like #confederate and #peakedinhighschool.
Maya Peterson told Buzzfeed the photographs were meant as a joke in response to complaints lodged by students about her senior pictures, in which she and a group of black friends were seen raising their fists in a “Black Power” salute.
Peterson said, “I understand why I hurt people’s feelings, but I didn’t become president to make sure rich white guys had more representation on campus.”
Peterson responded to a student who objected to her mocking the school’s male students saying, “Yes, I am making a mockery of the right-wing, confederate-flag hanging, openly misogynistic Lawrentians.” She added, “If that’s a large part of the school’s male population, then I think the issue is not with my bringing attention to it in a lighthearted way, but rather why no one has brought attention to it before….”
Maya Peterson seems to have gone about promoting diversity the wrong way. Yes, there are a bunch of whiny white males running around, but it’s in poor taste to mock the very people you are there to represent. But that goes both ways. The black students are also complaining about racist incidents directed at them. What has the $53,000-a-year school done to fix those problems?
Many [black students] said they had been called racial epithets, ranging from “Negro amigo” to “n***er,” by white peers who didn’t understand “why they couldn’t say the word too.”
One student said she overheard her white male classmates call black students on an opposing basketball team “Trayvon,” after Trayvon Martin. Another pointed out a newspaper op-ed by a white student criticizing a Black History Month celebration for “descending” into a rap performance “crafted with too little, if any, subtlety.”
I guess one has to ask, is Maya Peterson the only one exhibiting bad behavior? I don’t think so. I find it very problematic that students are allegedly allowed to hang Confederate flags from their dorm windows. That’s assuming that’s true. I can’t imagine any school allowing that.