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Morning Brief: Racist Classroom ‘Dance’, Vaccines For Kids, And P-22 Day

An image of an apple and a pencil on a teacher's desk, with a small chalkboard and books stacked behind them.
Classroom via Shutterstock
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Oct. 22.

To be specific, it’s Oct. 22, 2021, and yet, I’m here to tell you that a teacher at John W. North High School in Riverside was placed on leave after doing what appeared to be a mocking impression of a Native American dance, while yelling and wearing a paper headband with cut-out feathers.

The instructor was teaching a class, and in a viral video taken by a student, she can be seen laughing and calling the culture she’s mocking “too funny” and “ridiculous.”

According to the viral post, the student who filmed the incident is Native American, and “felt that violence was being committed against him and he had the right to record.” 

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The teacher’s name hasn’t been officially released yet (although thanks to a sign hanging up in her classroom, the internet has tracked her down easily), but the district has issued a statement, saying, “These behaviors are completely unacceptable and an offensive depiction of the vast and expansive Native American cultures and practices."

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Dr. Joely Proudfit, the director of the California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center at Cal State San Marcos, agrees, saying that the video was racist.

"This teacher needs some professional development, some skills training, obviously, some cultural sensitivity training," he said.

The conversation comes at a timely moment: anyone who’s been watching the Dodgers playoff games will surely have noticed Braves fans continuing to perform the racist “Tomahawk chop.”

It’s clear we have a long way to go.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

Weekend Reads

There's a lot going on in the world right now, and it’s hard enough to keep up with our day-to-day lives, let alone to stay current on the news. But if you have some time this weekend, here’s what you may have missed:

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L.A. City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas is facing federal corruption charges. Here’s a look at his political history before his indictment. (LAist)

MacArthur Park was cleared out recently, including for folks without homes who were staying there. What are their options now? (LAist)

Female firefighters in L.A. report abuse, harassment, and systemic discrimination at the L.A. Fire Department. (LAist)

A Black community group is challenging the planned redevelopment of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. (Capital & Main)

L.A. has a new, adorable mountain lion bebé. (LAist)

Brazilian coffee isn’t as popular as brands from other regions, and these two café owners are aiming to change that. (LAist)

For kids, pre-teens and teens, the pandemic and racial inequality is leading to a mental health crisis. (NPR)

L.A. noir is a beloved genre; here are some eerie tales you may not have heard. (L.A. Taco)

Before You Go ... This Week's Outdoor Pick: P-22 Day

5 children wear paper bags with images of a cougar painted on each one
Students from Calahan Elementary attend the 4th Annual P-22 Festival at Griffith Park on October 19, 2019, in Los Angeles.
(John Sciulli/Getty Images for National Wildlife Federation
Getty Images North America)

On Saturday, Oct. 23, the festival that celebrates the coexistence of people and wildlife returns for both virtual and in-person activities in Griffith Park. Highlights include cougar safety sessions and a Nature’s Way – Wildfire Recovery Hike at 1 p.m. The one-mile guided hike shows the ways trees and flora have adapted and returned after a devastating 2007 fire.

Or, you could: Attend a Noche de Ofrenda ceremony. Follow Kermit the Frog as he chases his Rainbow Connection. Learn about L.A. cults and Victorian mourning practices. Celebrate Samhain, a Celtic Halloween. Nosh on paneer masala fries, Dodger donuts, 21-inch pizza slices, Bavarian pretzels and true Japanese Wagyu. And more.

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