‘Political pawns’: Orlando teacher in hot water for activist video showing white students bowing to black peers

A black sixth-grade language arts teacher in Florida has been placed on leave over the controversial “point of view” TikTok videos he’s been posting to the internet.

In one video, Ethan Hooper’s students performed a Black History Month skit that evidently involved his white students literally bowing to his black students and acting like their doting slaves.


In another politically charged video, Hooper mocked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ schoolroom ban on inappropriate books by going around his classroom, grabbing random books from his students, and saying they were banned.


As both videos went viral, they stirred a massive public backlash.

“If one of the teachers was using my kid for political gain, that would upset me. What if I don’t believe in that, and, you know, that’s not what I’m teaching my kid,” one local parent told station WKMG.

The backlash was especially evident on social media:

The backlash eventually culminated in Orange County Public Schools issuing a statement condemning Hooper, according to local station WKMG.

“Orange County Public Schools will not tolerate the use of our children as political pawns by anyone, including a classroom teacher. Any employee of who creates videos or other content with students in an effort to exploit them for political purposes will be immediately removed from the classroom, placed on administrative leave and swift action will be taken to terminate employment,” the statement reads.

“I am appalled at the behavior and judgment of the teacher who posted the inappropriate videos using his students as political props. This is not free speech — it is the exploitation of our students for political purposes, and it will not be tolerated in our school district,” OCPS superintendent Maria Vazquez added in a separate statement.

Hooper has for his part somewhat apologized, while at the same time claiming it’d been done “in good fun” and accusing his critics of being malicious.

“It was in good fun. There was no political agenda behind it. It’s being maliciously used, and I am deeply apologetic toward the students and parents of those involved. I am also sorry to the students who weren’t involved,” he said to local station WESH.

“I want to be an example for them. If this does not match up with what they viewed [of me], I am truly sorry. My heart is for my students and the parents, first and foremost,” he added.

However, not everybody disagrees with what he did.

“We all agreed to it. He didn’t really do anything wrong. None of [the other students] think that this should be really happening. He’s one of my favorite teachers. He’s probably the best. It’s just not fair,” one of his students, Jaida Jackson, said to WESH.


Her mother, Shauna Thompson, concurred.

“The fact that the students really devised the content specifically means that it’s something that matters to them. And to say that they were used as pawns is false,” Thompson said.

She even defended the slaves video.

“The other example my daughter showed me was for Black History Month. They put some black students on the chairs, and then the white students were fanning them and making them comfortable. You know, it’s awesome, it’s beautiful, it’s celebratory, and I loved it,” she said.

According to her, other parents feel similarly.

“A lot of them are feeling guilt because when you love somebody, you want to protect them, and they’re so young, they don’t understand what’s happening. Why are adults coming for our favorite teacher?” she said …


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