In the footage obtained by The Sacramento Bee, the Grant High School teacher, Nicole Burkett—who is a Spanish teacher and student advisor—reportedly uses her fingers to stretch her eyelids in up and down directions. “If your eyes go up, you’re Chinese,” Burkett said, pulling her eyes out and upwards. “If they go down, they’re Japanese. If they’re just straight, you don’t know.”
Twin Rivers Unified School District spokesperson Zenobia Gerald issued a statement saying the video was “shocking” and “disappointing.” The district has since launched a probe into the matter.
“The video … does not represent the values held by Twin Rivers and the community,” Gerald said in the statement. “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.”
Grant High Principal Darris Hinson also shared a statement to school staff. Burkett didn’t provide any comment to The Sacramento Bee. However, a response from her supposed email address said, “I have been advised to not make any statements until my union representative gets back to me.”
This news emerges as hate crimes against Asians have risen across the U.S., particularly since the beginning of the pandemic. Asians have been increasingly targeted in the Bay Area with recent attacks, including an elderly Asian man and two middle-aged people in Oakland. An anti-Asian racial slur was also painted on a building across the street from the Chinese American International School in San Francisco.