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Princeton High student calls her suspension over yearbook ‘baseless’

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Princeton High School student Jamaica Ponder who was suspended for a one day after a picture appeared in the year book of her and her friends taken at her house with racial artwork in the background tells Steve Trevelise her suspension was “baseless.”

“To suspend someone, especially a black student, for allegedly using a racial slur maybe and including sensitive racial imagery that people see in the classroom regardless seems as though it’s a little baseless and that’s where the problem really comes from.”

So what happened? “We took the photo back in December, I submitted it to my yearbook sometime in January definitely after the deadline.” She also made it her Facebook cover photo. “Then this past Thursday she was called down to the principal’s office and as asked ‘Can you tell me what’s wrong with this photo?'”  Once she realized the picture of a lynching and poster in the background Ponder immediately started apologizing profusely.

As for the artwork,  “I had seen the artwork before of course, it was in my house, but it didn’t register with me because I’m so desensitized to it. It has been in my house for years.”

Ponder who is African American says there is artwork all over her house. “One of them, the large one, is from an exhibit that explores the meaning and power of the N word. The other was from a past exhibit much much longer ago and they’ve been up for a really long time.”

Ponder doesn’t think her suspension is fair “especially since there were a myriad of different issues with the yearbook.” Ponder describe a few. “There was this one collage where a kid took a picture of a Nazi rally and covered up the pictures of the swastikas with his friends faces, and another instance in which the Chinese and Japanese teachers names were switched.” There was one suspension but the others were covered up with a “sorry.”

As for her suspension…

“It’s really interesting that I was suspended on the grounds that I used a racial slur that is not acceptable for a community environment, or platform such as the yearbook, but the problem with that is that you can’t see it. The second problem is that there was sensitive racial imagery in the photo.” The fact of the matter says Ponder is that “I would never deliberately put a lynching in a yearbook, you see it in history class.”

You have to wonder why no one on the yearbook staff caught the photo and if Jamaica is going to be suspended, shouldn’t they be penalized as well?

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