Minnesota student, 14, bullied in ‘disturbing racist video’ posted online
“It was just the most disgusting thing I've ever witnessed in my entire life,” said Nya Sigin.
Officials at Prior Lake High School in Minneapolis are investigating a racist video posted by a white student in which she encourages her Black female classmate to die by suicide.
Activist Shaun King shared the vile video on his Instagram page, along with the message: “Young nasty racist Karens soon become grown nasty racist Karens.”
The one-minute video shows a student identified as Jaelyn Crooks of Prior Lake High School in Minnesota repeatedly using the N-word and encouraging a student to end their life. A second student heard in the background of the clip is reportedly named Jayden Kwley.
Nya Sigin, 14, says she is the target of their racist rant.
Nya said another classmate shared the video with her on Monday.
NBA star Matt Barnes commented under King’s post that the parents of Crooks “are the same parents who don’t want the truth about race theory taught in school.”
“It was just the most disgusting thing I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life,” said Nya, a freshman at Prior Lake High School. “I was feeling I was confused. I didn’t really know what I had done to even deserve it.”
“When I first saw the video, I hadn’t really processed everything that was going on,” she said. “I was hearing the words but yesterday I was in my counselor’s office, and I was really talking about it to them, and that’s when it all really hit me and how personal it was to me. That was just really hard because I just had this wave of emotions.”
Her sister, Elizabeth Sigin, a senior at Prior Lake High School, initially wasn’t swayed by the clip because, as she said, “I see racist things all the time.” But when she “got to the second half where it was actual threats and actual vile language,” she said she became angry.
“It’s not an isolated incident,” Elizabeth said. “I don’t know at this point what I can do to make sure that this stops for good because it’s too much on my sister. It’s too much on the family to just constantly be in these issues where somebody is harassing her and somebody is bullying her and she’s only a freshman. She still has three more years of being at the school, and I want those three years to be good for her.”
Nya struggles with anxiety and depression and attempted suicide in May. She said she was “finally overcoming that,” but the racist clip has had a tremendous impact on her.
“This whole entire situation happens and it just feels like a relapse,” she said.
“Talking about my suicide attempts is absolutely not OK. I don’t think they even understand the impact of this on me and my family, to even make these comments,” she said of the clip.
In a letter sent to staff and families, Principal Dr. John Bezek said the video “goes against everything for which our school stands.”
“We have launched an investigation into the students involved with the video and will take appropriate action,” Bezek said.
“Racist messages like the ones in the video create an environment that is hostile to learning. I want to assure students and staff that we are committed to their safety and emotional well-being,” Bezek said in the letter.
The sisters are calling on the district to hold accountable the students who created the video.
“I want to see them hold these people accountable,” Elizabeth said. “It’s already hard enough being in such a predominantly white area as a Black family, and as Black women, it makes it so much harder for us. I really just want to see my school do something about this video and give real consequences to the students who are involved.”
Nya added,”If schools don’t try or do give these people that are posting these racist [videos], doing these racist acts, consequences they will not change.”
Superintendent Dr. Teri Staloch said in a statement, “Our schools do not tolerate racism and hate speech. An investigation into the students involved with the video is underway and we will take appropriate action. We remain focused on our priority of providing safe, supportive and inclusive learning environments for all students.”
Students at Prior Lake High School were dismissed early on Thursday amid protests in response to the video.
Some may find it startling to know that Jaelyn Crooks is allegedly half indigenous and belongs to the most wealthy casino tribe in Minnesota. They reportedly have police guarding her home as the family has allegedly left town amid a wave of death threats and harassment.
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community issued a statement on the video, saying that the tribe “fully condemns” the teen’s comments.
“As a tribal nation, we are acutely aware of the destructive nature of racist thoughts and acts,” the statement said. “Our ancestors suffered from racist and genocidal government policies and acts for over two hundred years. We are still subjected to anti-Indian racism today. We are talking with our youth about our history and the genuine harm racist beliefs and comments cause.”
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