A California teacher has come under fire for making a shocking "slant eyes" gesture while describing racial stereotypes against Asians during a Zoom class last week. The video has since gone viral, with social media users slamming her for her insensitive actions and setting a bad example for her students. Nicole Burkett, a Spanish teacher and student adviser at Grant Union High School in Sacramento, has been placed under investigation.
However, also many of her students came out in support of her claiming that her gesture was taken out of context. Burkett on the other hand has claimed that she has been receiving death threats on her Instagram account following the incident.
According to local media reports, Burkett is shown on the video intentionally narrowing her eyes during an online Zoom class last week. "If your eyes go up, you're Chinese. If they go down, they're Japanese. If they're just straight, you don't know," Burkett told students on Zoom last Thursday as she continued to pull her eyes up and down at the corners and allegedly making funny gestures and mocking Asians.
Burkett reportedly was trying to explain a racist school-yard taunt called 'Chinese, Japanese, Dirty Knees', which she said was prevalent in the 1980s. However, by doing so she ended up mocking Asians, which didn't go down well with many including the school authority.
"I should leave your class right now!" someone can be heard saying after Burkett finishes those gestures. According to reports, the comment was probably from an Asian student attending the online class. The video of the incident was uploaded on social media and has since gone viral.
Feeling the Heat
Following the incident an internal investigation was launched by the school. It is unclear whether Burkett was placed on leave pending the internal investigation. "The video is shocking and disappointing and does not represent the values held by Twin Rivers and the community," Grant Union Principal Darris Hinson said in a statement condemning the incident.
"Please know that Twin Rivers is committed to providing all students with a safe and civil learning environment in which all members of the school community are treated with dignity and respect. We do not tolerate any form of racism from any member of our school community," the statement further read.
However, many students have come in her support saying that the incident is being blown out of context, Burkett also claiming on her Instagram account that she has been receiving death threats since the video found its way to the social media.
A Change.org petition launched by parents has also been demanding an apology from Burkett including 200 hours of community service. The petition has so far garnered over 6,000 signatures. Burkett, who joined the district in 2017, has declined to comment on the incident when approached by multiple media outlets. "I have been advised to not make any statements until my union representative gets back to me," she told the Sacramento Bee.