Texas middle schoolers were recently asked to determine which norm was “true” in parts of China: eating cats and dogs, caning children who steal candy, or cutting off “someone’s lips if they burp in a restaurant.”
Now, in response to backlash over the racist multiple choice question—which circulated widely in a viral tweet this week—the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District says three teachers have been placed on administrative leave while an investigation takes place into the incident involving “derogatory and hurtful” language.
“Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD values our diverse community of learners and staff,” the Texas school district said in a statement posted to its Facebook page Wednesday, noting it will also “enhance” diversity training opportunities. “Actions or language disrespecting any people group are not acceptable and do not represent our core belief system.”
The quiz question was originally shared on Twitter by Joy Lim, a Carrollton Creekview High School graduate whose 12-year-old sister is a middle school student in the district, according to the Dallas Morning News. The family is Korean-American.
“My sister’s 6th grade social studies class took a quiz today and......... this is ridiculous.. harmful rhetoric in our education system is exactly why anti-asian hate crimes and racism persist today @CFBISD @BlalackMS do better,” Lim said in a Twitter post Tuesday.
Lim, a college student, told the Dallas Morning News that her sister’s class had started a unit on China, and that she worried how Asian American students in the classroom would internalize the quiz responses.
“The language that was being used when the teacher was talking about the COVID-19 virus and where it had originated in China, very broad generalizations were being made, and I was uncomfortable where the teacher could take this,” Lim told the Dallas Morning News. “This is a classroom full of 11- and 12-year-olds, and I was really disappointed that this language was being used in the quiz, painting such harmful and negative stereotypes.
The question also shows that young students are being taught to think differently about China or Asian Americans, Lim told KXAS-TV, an NBC affiliate in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Instances of Anti-Asian harassment and violence have soared during the pandemic. Stop AAPI Hate recorded nearly 3,800 “hate incidents” against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders from March 19, 2020, to February 28 of this year, according to a recent report from the group, which tracks such data.
Chinese people were the largest ethnic group that reported experiencing hate, at 42.2 percent, according to the report, followed by Koreans at 14.8 percent.