Student Chastised by Teacher for Not Reading "Black" Enough

Student Chastised by Teacher for Not Reading "Black" Enough

Via TheRoot, The Westside Gazette:

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.

John Jarzemsky

News by John Jarzemsky

John is a freelance writer who has been with LitReactor since the days of its halcyon youth. You can check out John's blog, the poorly titled Super Roller Disco Monkey Hullabaloo!, for other reviews, random musings, and ill-thought out rants. He was recently published in Bushwick Nightz, a collection of short stories about the Brooklyn neighborhood in which he resides.

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Comments

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading March 23, 2012 - 11:44am

Jesus, world!

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer March 23, 2012 - 11:50am

Wow...I try so hard to defend teachers. Then you see stuff like this, and it makes it harder on all of them. I just can't even imagine what that teacher was thinking.

Alexis Clough's picture
Alexis Clough March 23, 2012 - 12:04pm

The teacher should be ashamed of herself! Think of what she is instilling in those young minds watching all this play out. SMDH :/

Boone Spaulding's picture
Boone Spaulding from Coldwater, Michigan, U.S.A. is reading Solarcide Presents: Nova Parade March 23, 2012 - 3:23pm

Some of the dimmest bulbs I've encountered are Education Majors. I feel that sometimes a person who goes through the public education system with the rest of us, then attends college/university to train as a teacher, who then spends their working life inside the education system - that individual sometimes exists in an intellectual vaccum, entertaining ideas that are extremely divorced from reality...

Hey! Teacher! Say it smarter - you know, SMART. I thought you were smart....

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like March 23, 2012 - 8:35pm

I have a joke, but I don't want to be flagged.

Also, kudos to John J. for letting the facts speak for themselves.

MichaelSipple's picture
MichaelSipple from Houston, Tx is reading Eat the Document March 23, 2012 - 10:39pm

My Sociology teacher in highschool once asked me if the scars on my hands were from all of the knife fights I must have gotten into since I was a hispanic looking male living in a lower socio-economic area. Highschool never ends...

edsikov's picture
edsikov from New York by way of Natrona Hts PA is reading absolutely nothing March 24, 2012 - 1:44pm

Oy vey iss meer! Vat iss diss verldt comink to? A boychik shouldt be allowedt to rread de vay he vants to rread, vitout hiss teacherr rreprimendink heem forr talkink vitout en eccent! I vass et a readink of diss brillient poet Ellen Ginssberk de udder day, endt de readerr readt hiss poemss de vey dey shouldt be readt: vit e Yiddishe eccent!

"I saw de besdt mindts off my generrazhon distroyedt by medness, starfing hystereckel naykedt..."

--Ed

Boone Spaulding's picture
Boone Spaulding from Coldwater, Michigan, U.S.A. is reading Solarcide Presents: Nova Parade March 25, 2012 - 2:27pm

^ Ha! (wrong...so wrong)

JamieMarriage's picture
JamieMarriage from Sydney, Australia is reading Spider, Spin Me a Web - Lawrence Block March 25, 2012 - 3:41pm

Streuth! That's a bit rich by crikey. Sounds like this Shielah is two dingos short of a digeredoo...

Nope, still can't speak Australian.

 

Personally I wonder whether or not the teacher fits the standard American sterotype of overweight, inbred and illiterate (sorry guys, but that is still how the world in general thinks of you.)

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like March 25, 2012 - 5:24pm

the standard American sterotype of overweight, inbred and illiterate (sorry guys, but that is still how the world in general thinks of you.)

Awesome, that means I can go on hating foreigners!  :-)   

JamieMarriage's picture
JamieMarriage from Sydney, Australia is reading Spider, Spin Me a Web - Lawrence Block March 25, 2012 - 5:37pm

Awesome, that means I can go on hating foreigners!  :-)

 

Feel free; we might not like it but racial sterotyping isn't going away any time soon.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like March 25, 2012 - 5:40pm

Just joking, of course.

Also, race and nationality are not the same.  Prejudice is not going away anytime soon.  Not to be too picky.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books March 26, 2012 - 3:10pm

First to the article--ho-lleeee shit!

Second, to the Aussie--you know, I've heard people say that a lot, but I've never encountered it while in Europe. I find that there are bigots out there who rely on stereotypes everywhere and in every profession, but generalizations tend to mislead us.

JamieMarriage's picture
JamieMarriage from Sydney, Australia is reading Spider, Spin Me a Web - Lawrence Block March 26, 2012 - 4:32pm

Second, to the Aussie--you know, I've heard people say that a lot, but I've never encountered it while in Europe. I find that there are bigots out there who rely on stereotypes everywhere and in every profession, but generalizations tend to mislead us.

 

You are very right there. Generalizations are usually the culprits when it comes to bigotry. I find myself guilty of it on occasion, although it is usually based more on social groups rather than nationality, race...etc. In this case I was using a sweeping generalization that was more common a decade ago in order to make the point about overused sterotyping.

So if I've offended anyone I apologize, it was ment only in jest.

Besides, I've got a few friends in the US (from some very diverse ethnic backgrounds, none of whom fall into the old sterotype), including an editor or two, whom I'd fight to the death for.