A Virgina student, Jordan Shumate recently found himself feeling singled out after having his teacher instruct him to read a Langston Hughes poem ‘Blacker”.
Shumate, 14 was sitting in his ninth grade English class reciting Langstan Hughes “Ballad of the Landlord” aloud in class. As Jordan read the poem he spoke very clearly and in perfect English. His teacher Marilyn Bart, interrupted and instructed him to read the poem ‘Blacker.’
“She told me, ‘Blacker, Jordan… c’mon, blacker. I thought you were black.” Jordan refused to continue reading.
Bart followed up with a Mammy (The Help) style impersonation of her own. She read the poem as if she were a “slave from the 1960′s according to one student who witnessed the incident.
“Landlord, landlord,” it begins. “My roof has sprung a leak./Don’t you ’member I told you about it/Way last week?”
Feeling very frustrated, the ninth grader respectfully asked his teacher whether she believed that all black people spoke like that. She refused to answer. Instead she admonished him for speaking out of turn and dismissed him to his seat.
This could easily be written off as a teacher simply trying to make a student invoke the authors intended emotional betrayal. However this is not the first time Bart has subjected Jordan to this type of institutionalized racial insensitivity. Earlier in the year she asked him to “explan the cultural significance of grape soda.”
Jordan told him mom Nicole Page who says she feels humiliated for him in a time where the President is black and such questions should not be asked . He is the only black kid in the class and does not understand why his teacher continues to single him out.
“IT’s very unprofessional. IT should not happen. She didn’t do it to any of the other kids, why did she have to do it to me?”
While Shumate is aware there may be some truth to the stereotypes he sees no reason for his teacher to hold him responsible for the entire black race.
I do know the stereotypes… but she could change the questions so I’m not like the king of black people.” he told the Washington Post.
The incident is being “seriously” investigated by the school board. The teacher shows signs of being a racist. I may get the jist of why she wanted him to read the poem in a deep southern dialect.. Because the poem wasn’t written in perfect English. In order to take on a character one has to read a script or a poem and bring forth the emotion the author set out to display.
But the grape soda thing….. I mean black people do like grape soda. At least they used to.. But how the heck is he supposed to know why they do? No more then I know why black people used to love Cherry Kool-Aid.. It’s not like the 9th grade student is a Doctorial professor in African American Studies.. He is simply a well spoken, 14 year old student who does not fit the stereotypes of what she would expect from a black kid in her classroom. He has no reason to have a valid answer to such offensive questions.
WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW
Langston Hughes “Ballad Of The Landlord”
If it were me I would leave the teacher an anonymous poem on her desk saying “Please Read This Black so that you can feel the authors emotion.” - B!tch how am I supposed to know!!!”