A California high school teacher has drawn criticism on social media after a series of videos showed her wearing Native American headgear and dancing around a classroom during a math class.
The videos, shot by a Native American student at the John W. North High School in Riverside, California, was shared on Instagram by user Akalei Brown.
Brown noted in her caption that the student started filming the teacher shortly after she pulled out the fake headgear because he "felt that violence was being committed against him and he had the right to record."
"I am sharing this video because these behaviors can no longer be swept under the rug!," Brown wrote in the caption. "This student has a Native first name and outwardly identifies as Native American. We need to end abuse & discrimination against indigenous youth in schools! There is no excuse for this type of behavior. We're not in the 1960s anymore, she should know better."
What is 'Soh Cah Toa?'
The video starts off with the teacher performing the tomahawk chop â a gesture that is considered as an offensive mockery of the nation's first people â as she marches around the classroom, flailing her arms around while chanting what sounds like a native Indian war cry.
At one point, the teacher is seen climbing on top of a desk as she continues her mockery of the indigenous culture before she hops over to her computer to change the slide to her presentation. It appears as though the teacher was chanting the words "sohcahtoa," which is a mnemonic used to remember the definitions of the trigonometric sine, cosine, and tangent functions of an angle.
Watch the video below:
Social Media Reactions
Not long after the video went viral, popular TikTok user @thatdaneshguy identified the teacher as Candice Reed from an Apple drawing on the wall behind her.
The video, which has garnered over 1.3 million views (as of publishing), has sparked outrage on social media with netizens accusing the teacher of racism. "All that to teach a class SohCahToa? SohCahToa is like the only thing I remember from HS, and the teacher didn't disrespect or mock our indigenous ancestors to get me to remember it," wrote one user.
"This is incredibly racist, cringeworthy and offensive! Candice Reed needs to be fired first thing tomorrow morning," commented another. In her caption, Brown also provided the contact details of the school and district authorities, urging her followers to file a complaint against the teacher.
School District Releases Statement, Teacher Placed on Leave
The Riverside Unified School District Administration released the following statement condemning the teacher's actions, adding that the educator had been placed on leave in the wake of the incident.
"A recording of one of our teachers has been widely circulated on social media. These behaviors are completely unacceptable and an offensive depiction of the vast and expansive Native American cultures and practices. Her actions do not represent the values of our district. The teacher has been placed on leave while the District conducts an investigation.
The Riverside Unified School District values diversity, equity and inclusion, and does not condone behavior against these values.
We are deeply committed to implementing inclusive practices and policies that honor the rich diversity of our district and the greater region. We will be working with our students, families, staff and community to regain your trust."
However, @thatdaneshguy accused the school of being complicit after finding an image of Reed in its 2012 yearbook. The picture, which shows Reed wearing similar feather headgear, is accompanied with text that reads, "Dancing from one end of the room to the other, math teacher Candice Reed wears an Indian headdress to emphasize geometry basics."