A Southern California school district is under fire after a video of a teacher wearing a headdress and mocking Native American traditions through song and dance went viral on social media.
An unidentified math teacher at John W. North High School in the Riverside Unified School District danced and chanted “SohCahToa” in an effort to “teach” his students the three main functions of trigonometry: sine, cosine and tangent.
Akalei Brown, an Indigenous studies consultant and adoptive youth advocate, first posted the clip to her Instagram on Thursday. According to Brown’s post, a student who goes by an Indigenous name and identifies as Native American “felt violence being committed against him” as he watched his professor’s attempt to “skip the war” and “chop the tomahawk”.
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The Riverside Unified School District announced the teacher had been furloughed in a statement on Instagram. “A recording of one of our teachers has been shared widely on social media,” the statement said. “These behaviors are completely unacceptable and are an offensive representation of the vast and expansive Native American cultures and practices. His actions do not represent the values of our district.”
The school district’s statement added, “The Riverside Unified School District values diversity, equity, and inclusion, and does not tolerate any behavior contrary to these values.” We are deeply committed to implementing inclusive practices and policies that honor the rich diversity of our district and the greater We will work with our students, families, staff, and community to earn back your trust.
Jasmine Washington is associate editor of Seventeen, covering beauty and pop culture. When her head isn’t buried in the latest Love Belvin romance release, she shuts down all things Beyoncé and binge “Married at First Sight.” You can find her indulging her beauty addiction at Sephora, or somewhere on the hunt for the world’s best tacos.