Maya Peterson, former student body president at the prestigious Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, resigned from her position after she caused an uproar by mocking conservative, White male students at the school, reports Buzzfeed.com.
Peterson posted an Instagram picture of herself sporting L.L. Bean boots and a Yale sweater, while holding a hockey stick. The picture was captioned with the hashtags: #cleve, #romney2016, #confederate, and #peakedinhighschool.
Peterson said the comical image depicted the typical “Lawrenceville boi” and was in response to backlash she received over a controversial senior picture. The picture in question showed her and 10 friends, all Black, raising their fists in a “Black Power” salute.
Peterson said that she can understand why White, male students might be offended, but made it clear that that wasn’t her problem:
“Yes, I am making a mockery of the right-wing, confederate-flag hanging, openly misogynistic Lawrentians,” Peterson wrote in response to negative comments about the picture. “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.
“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,” she said. “Let’s be honest. They’re not the ones that feel uncomfortable here.”
Read more from Buzzfeed:
The Lawrenceville School, founded in 1810, first admitted Black students just 50 years ago. Female students weren’t allowed to enroll until 1987, a change that led 50 students to shout “Better Dead Than Coed” in protest, according to thePhiladelphia Inquirer (“We were told they’d be so much smarter. They’re morons, most of them,” one senior boy elaborated). Notable Lawrenceville alumni include famous CEOs (Michael Eisner, Lewis Bernard), state senators, and the founder of Forbes magazine.
Peterson, a tall, animated 17-year-old with flowing dreads and thick-rimmed glasses who ran on a platform of “inclusion and acceptance and pride in oneself,” wasn’t just the first Black woman to serve as student body president — she’s an out lesbian too. She won the election by reaching out to students whom other candidates overlooked, including freshmen and minorities, other students said.
Others said they tired of answering “dumb questions about their hair” or whether they were on financial aid. Peterson recalled controversy over a Facebook post about Obama’s reelection in 2012. “As a Black and Latino, gay woman in the United States of America, today is a momentous day,” she wrote. “I’m sorry to all the rich White men who have failed to elect a president that endorses their greed.” Dozens of students commented, attacking her for being racist herself.
Read more about the entrenched racism and White privilege at Lawrenceville at Buzzfeed.