Education

First black student body president of expensive prep school asked to resign for talking about racism

By  |  188 Comments

April V. Taylor

NewsOne is reporting that the most expensive prep school in the country, Lawrenceville, has forced their first black student body president, Maya Peterson, to step down after an Instagram post that offended some of the school’s white students.  The school’s tuition is $53,000 a year and has a history of rigidly accepting change.  The schools first black students were not admitted until the 1960s, and women were not allowed to attend until 1987.   There has also been recent backlash from some parents who feel that the schools pursuit of diversity through implementation of scholarship programs has been a distraction and caused, “the school to no longer prioritize legacy students.”  Peterson ran for student body president on a platform of “inclusion and acceptance and pride in oneself.”  As both a minority and an out lesbian, Peterson consciously reached out to students who were overlooked by other candidates.

Peterson had faced her share of controversy for pursuing the installation of a “diversity representative” to help facilitate the easing of tensions around race and gender issue discussions, as well as advocating for the implementation of gender neutral bathrooms.  Some students had gone as far has claiming that the election had been rigged to allow a woman to win.  Despite numbers being released that showed Peterson had won, some Lawrenceville students still refused to accept her.

Peterson became the target of vicious personal attacks that included students falsely reporting that she used marijuana and that she had made racist tweets about a Sikh student.  Shockingly, the school did not conduct an investigation into the release of photos of Peterson half naked in her bedroom despite the fact that Peterson reported that she had no idea who had taken the non-consensual photos.

Trying to lighten the situation, Peterson made a post of a senior photo she had taken with 10 of her friends with their fists raised in a “Black Power” salute.  Students complained about the picture, and Peterson responded with another post.  The post Peterson made in response to the complaints pictured her wearing L.L. Bean boots and a Yale University sweater while holding a hockey stick.  The picture was captioned with the hashtags #romney2016, #confederate, and #peakedinhighschool.

Peterson states that both posts were meant to be jokes, however, not everyone was laughing.  One student commented on the photo stating, “You’re the student body president, and you’re mocking and blatantly insulting a large group of the school’s male population.”  Peterson responded, “Yes, I am making a mockery of the right-wing, confederate-flag hanging, openly misogynistic Lawrentians.  If that’s a large portion 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…”  She went on to say, “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.  Let’s be honest.  They’re not the ones that feel uncomfortable here.”

School administrators threatened Peterson with disciplinary action if she did not resign as student body president.  Dean of Students Nancy Thomas reported to the Lawrenceville student paper that a critical mass of people felt that, “it was not fitting of a student leader to make comments mocking members of the community.  Peterson feels that the backlash from the photo was simply the boiling point for tensions that stemmed from students who had a problem with Peterson being the student body president because of her race.  Peterson also reports that she was fed up with the “vicious attacks,” she faced from some of the “most privileged members of the elite school.”  She states, “I’m not saying what I did was right, but it wasn’t racist.  I was just calling those guys exactly what they are.  And Lawrenceville is the type of place where those kids are idolized.”

 

188 Comments

  1. Roger Duncan

    July 1, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    It was all shits and giggles when she was the one being attacked, but as soon as she turned the tables, she’s now the bad guy? Typical white privilege mentality.

  2. seemespeak

    July 1, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Highly Typical White Privilege indeed. FUCK YALE and Fuck Lawrenceville both.

  3. Lisa

    July 1, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Maya Peterson, Im proud of you,Most blacks that are in your position, of if put in your position,would have walked away and tucked they tails in between they legs,just to be liked by a WHITE PERSON,Only later to come into LOW SELF ESTEEM,an INFERIOR BEING. on EARTH, Only to end up disenegrating from a BLACKWOMAN existence here on EARTH for the sake, acceptance of WHITE PEOPLE..Im commending you,and saluting you for standing up, and for not chosing to DIE just so some WHITEFOLKS live….SEE, that is what you call BLACK POWER!!you go girl!!

  4. Phillip D. Caldwell

    July 1, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Fighting white recism is not easy. let our president, Barack O’Bama be your example!Look at the oposition he receiving from members of congrrss in trying to move the country forward. He has won two elections as president of the United States! He still has not given-up! Maya Peterson! Do not give-up your desire and determination to bring about change in a country that badly needs it!What ever your dreams and goals are, do not give-up ever! Good-luck and may God be with you in what ever you pursue in LIFE!

  5. J. David Duckett

    July 2, 2014 at 1:53 am

    Proud of your spirit, Intellegence and back bone.
    Hopefully, others will be inspired by your courageous attitude.
    Keep on keeping on. I’m very proud of you.

  6. Devon

    July 2, 2014 at 3:58 am

    Big ups to the chick but she knew what was gonna happen, stop cryin about it. She blk and a dyke whytes dont like bks and dykes what she expect? Whyte never gonna like blk and dyke sheit blk dont like blk and dyke. Blk throw more shade than anybody all yall mawfukkas need to have a seat.

    • Lillie

      July 2, 2014 at 9:53 am

      I think you need to attend this school to check out your language. It’s amazing how we then to use words with no substance.

      • Devon

        July 2, 2014 at 7:11 pm

        You need to mind your fukkin business. BOOM!!!!!

  7. N C H

    July 2, 2014 at 7:09 am

    Devon,

    You sound like you have two brain cells and they are fighting with each other

  8. ericaf

    July 2, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Most didn’t know about the school before, now everyone knows that racism is rampant on their campus. Good for her.

  9. lorraine

    July 2, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Hey, is this the Lawrenceville located in central NJ, near Princeton? Well right on, little sis! Somebody has to stand up against racism and white privilege. Of course doing it in the lion’s den is tough. The demographic there is about white privilege! Hold on; change is coming and you’re making it happen!!

  10. Mary S. Northington

    July 2, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    Maya, those of you who are able to get “up there”, but in spite of their trying to knock you down still keep on going, are the salvation of our people. Little Sister, you are the generation of my grand children. Keep fighting. Bless you. You are in my prayers.

  11. De Mush Doctor

    July 2, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Way to go young lady, don’t step down so that a bunch a white racist lowlifes could step up on your back and ride you into the ground. Stand your ground.

  12. Tariq

    July 4, 2014 at 2:20 am

    That’s right lil sis, stay strong just like that though out the rest of your life if you do you and the rest of us will be all the better for it.

  13. Tariq

    July 4, 2014 at 2:21 am

    Through out the rest of your life.

  14. rock

    July 4, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    Great 4th of July message. Makes you wonder why i should be afraid of the guy in the wife beater and flip flops that you have snatched out of the desert, held with out due process, hearing or trial for numerous years, when the guy next door to me is storing weapons, preparing for war, who shoots my children for wearing hoodies.

  15. sincere

    July 5, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Why do repeatedly expect something from people who have historically given us nothing but hunger, nakedness, and out of doors. It’s 2014 Wake the f@#k up. Knowledge for self and do for self.

  16. sincere

    July 5, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    On July 4, 1776, that was the day when the deal was sealed for my ancestors enslavement. Britain had abolished it and wanted America to do the same. It’s always ok to assimilate, but when you talk about anything dealing with the upliftment of Afican descendants, this is what you will always get. The land of the free, yeah right.

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