"If you are brown and watching this-go back to your own country."
It may be two minutes she’ll regret for the rest of her life. That’s about the time it took a young white teen from Brampton to record a YouTube video in which she comes across as a racist.
The 16-year-old rants to a camera about how everyone in her Brampton high school “is brown,’’ equates “turbans’’ with “terrorists,’’ moans about having to move from Toronto to “Bramladesh,’’ asks white people to get in touch with her and advises brown people to “go back to your own country.’’
And now the teen — who made those comments in a recent YouTube-posted video gone viral this week with copies — faces death threats.
But her father says his daughter is truly sorry she made the video, which is “totally out of character,” and that she has struggled with depression and is now in hospital.
“She has some challenges,’’ said her father. (The Star has decided not to name the student or her family.)
He wanted to make it plain that he’s very sorry about the content and apologizes on behalf of his family “to anyone who’s been hurt by this video.”
“I’m angry at the content of the video — it’s not who she is as a person or how she was brought up,’’ said her father.
His daughter is definitely not a racist and has non-white friends. “The first thing she said, was ‘Dad, I’m not a racist. I don’t know why I did it. It was stupid,’” said the father, who’s not sure when his daughter made the video and posted it to YouTube.
He says he hasn’t been able to get an answer to why she made the video. “It might have been a cry for help. I don’t know ... an attention-seeking thing. I have no idea.’’
His main concern right now “is to help her with the challenges she’s going through.’’
Students at Brampton’s Turner Fenton Secondary School told the Star Tuesday that the teen had been jumped the day before by another student. Teachers had to call police to escort her from the school safely, the students said.
The Grade 11 student has not been at school since, and her Facebook and Twitter accounts, which she identified in her YouTube video, have been dismantled. Friends told the Star she’s dropped out of sight and no one has heard from her.
On Tuesday, her angry peers — most of whom aren’t white — don’t expect her back at school any time soon.
“That was blatantly racist,” said a Grade 10 student during the lunch hour. “She should have recognized that everyone here is from a different background.”
The video seemed to come out of the blue and doesn’t reflect on their school, which has people from all cultures and religions, students said. Everyone gets along, for the most part. Just two weeks ago, the school held a culture festival with presentations and food to celebrate its diversity.
A group of Grade 10 boys playing football said they didn’t take the video personally, but thought it was “ignorant.” One joked that he smells like Axe — not curry.
“I’m only offended about the ‘go back to your country’ part,” said one student, 16. “Most of us were born here.”
The students who spoke to the Star condemned any violence against the teen and hoped she has learned her lesson. Friends of various races expressed shock that she posted it in the first place.
Certainly the video has launched a firestorm of tweets and comments, overwhelmingly critical of the teen.
Const. George Tudos, media relations representative for Peel Police, confirmed the teen has had death threats and police are monitoring the situation. He said the police have had many emails and phone calls from people “who are outraged’’ about the video, which started circulating on Sunday, with posted copies gaining thousands of viewings. The original has been deleted from YouTube.
“It has created quite a stir,’’ he said.
Police have looked at the video and, while its contents are “disappointing,’’ Tudos said at this point they “don’t think there’s anything criminal in nature.’’ He said police don’t believe it qualifies as hate propaganda but the investigation is ongoing.
Further, the postings under the various copies of the YouTube video contain “hurtful’’ comments, he said. “There’s a back and forth ... kind of like a feud.’’
A request from the Star for comment from the teen’s school principal was refused on the grounds of privacy rules. Carla Pereira, acting manager of communications for the Peel District School Board, said she could not confirm that she was a student at the school or, if she was, whether she had been suspended.
But Pereira did acknowledge that Turner Fenton Secondary School made an announcement to all students Monday about “appropriate use of technology’’ and that students can face penalties if they don’t abide by the school code of contact.
In cases like this, involving suspect use of social media, she said school authorities would begin an investigation and contact police.
“We take reports like this very seriously,’’ Pereira said. “We expect all students to demonstrate appropriate online conduct and refrain from improper/unethical use of technology while at and away from school. That is the expectation in our schools’ codes of conduct. Students who do not abide by the code will be subject to appropriate progressive discipline.’’