Student Chastised by Teacher for Not Reading "Black" Enough
A high school freshman in Virginia has alleged that his teacher singled him out when she critiqued his in-class reading of Langston Hughes’ Ballad of the Landlord for not being “black” enough.
Jordan Shumate, of George C. Marshall High School, was reading the poem out loud as directed when his teacher, Marilyn Bart, stopped him and asked that he perform the piece in a “blacker” voice, and then demonstrated exactly what she was asking for:
She told me, “Blacker, Jordan—c’mon, blacker. I thought you were black”…she read the poem like a slave, basically.
According to Shumate, when he asked if she thought that all black people spoke in such a manner, he was told to take a seat and reprimanded for speaking out of turn. Bart has reportedly singled Shumate out in the past, asking him to rap out a poem by Tupac Shakur, and, during a lesson on stereotypes, asking him why blacks like grape soda and rap music.
Shumate relayed the incident to his mother, who notified the school, and an investigation was launched. Nicole Page says her son is owed an apology from Bart, and that she remains optimistic about the outcome of said investigation:
As long as the process is thoughtful, and they look at all the facts, acknowledge that my son told the truth, in the future implement some racial [sensitivity] training, I will feel comfortable.
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