A California high school teacher is under fire for making a “shocking” anti-Asian gesture during a Zoom class last week.
Nichole Burkett, a Spanish teacher and advisor for the class of 2022 at Sacramento’s Grant Union High School, is shown on video intentionally narrowing her eyes during an online class last week, according to local reports.
“If your eyes go up, you’re Chinese,” Burkett said, as she stretched her own eyes. “If they go down, they’re Japanese. If they’re just straight, you don’t know.”
“I should leave your class right now!” someone can be heard saying after Burkett finished.
In a statement issued to the Sacramento Bee, Twin Rivers United School District spokesperson Zenobia Gerald called the video “shocking” and “disappointing,” adding that the district has opened a probe.
“The video … does not represent the values held by Twin Rivers and the community,” Gerald added. “An investigation was immediately launched when we were notified about the video. 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.”
School principal Darris Hinson issued a similar statement to staff, according to the report.
Burkett declined to comment to the paper, but a response from an email address associated with her said: “I have been advised to not make any statements until my union representative gets back to me.”
Burkett’s staff biography on the school website indicates that she is the club advisor for Lao Xang Noy, and KPOP.
“I love teaching and supporting all students at Grant,” she wrote.
The incident comes amid a recent wave of assaults on Asian victims in California and other parts of the country.