The principal of a Louisville, Kentucky high school is under fire for alleged “racially insensitive” comments he made associated with students’ right to take a Colin Kaepernick-style knee during the National Anthem.
DuPont Manual High School’s Gerald Mayes had met with two black students in late October who were upset that the football coach would not permit student trainers to kneel. Unbeknownst to the principal, one of the students recorded the conversation.
So, what exactly did the principal say that was offensive?
According to the Courier-Journal, Mayes told the pair that some students were choosing to take a knee “for sensationalism”:
“I don’t have a problem with anyone that’s sincere,” he said. “I have a problem with people that do it just for attention.” With that, he agreed with the duo that a student should not face consequences for kneeling, and said he would speak with the football coach about the issue.
But … Mayes then went on to compare the treatment of blacks to that of other groups:
When one of the students said blacks have faced greater discrimination than Protestants, Mayes responded by saying, “And that’s coming through your filter, and I don’t agree with you.”
Mayes went on to bring up the plight of Native Americans and Jewish people before saying he also has faced racial discrimination.
“Listen, I’ve been discriminated against because I was white. That ain’t right,” he said, adding that he had “lost four jobs because I was white.” …
Later in the conversation, Mayes asked the students to view racial issues from another perspective. In an example, he said he is often pressured to hire more African-American teachers at Manual.
“I’d love to, but would you want me to hire an African-American teacher because they’re African-American or because they’re the best teacher?” he asked the students.
Mayes was reprimanded by the district for these comments, as well as those criticizing the district’s chief equity officer. Last Friday, he apologized in a meeting organized by the school Black Student Union, stating “Help me be better.”
This was insufficient, however, for this morning “dozens of students” held a sit-in at one of the Manual HS’s stairwells, demanding Mayes be fired:
“The everlasting impact of his words cannot be erased from Manual until he is gone,” the school’s Black Student Union said in a statement Tuesday. …
In its statement Tuesday, Manual’s Black Student Union said that it had accepted Mayes’ apology but that “he must be held accountable.” In calling for Mayes’ removal, the group cited not just the recorded comments, but also Mayes’ “history of offensive comments and actions against marginalized student groups.”
Within the past week, at least two former Manual students have come forward to share their experiences with Mayes, who has been Manual’s principal since 2013. In letters posted on the website DEARJCPS.com, the students allege that Mayes made inappropriate comments to them regarding their gender identity. …
[BSU President Quintez] Brown, a senior, said Mayes has created “an atmosphere of fear” at Manual. In turn, students felt they had no other choice than to record the conversation, he said.
“This was not a first-time offense,” Brown said. “We knew about Mr. Mayes.”
The Jefferson County Public School District has initiated an investigation into the new allegations facing Principal Mayes.