FALLS CHURCH, Va. (CBSDC) — A teacher at George C. Marshall High School reportedly asked a student to read a Langston Hughes poem “blacker” as he recited it for his freshman English class.

14-year-old Jordan Shumate was stunned when the longtime teacher at the Falls Church school made that request as he read “Ballad of the Landlord” recently.

“At the very least, it’s very very unprofessional,” the student told All News 99.1 WNEW.

Shumate is the only African American student in the class.

“She didn’t say it to any of the students in class,” he added.

According to Shumate, the teacher, identified as Marilyn Bart, also asked him to explain to the class why African American people like grape soda and rap music.

Bart reportedly had already put in her retirement papers prior to the incident.

“We’re in 2012 with the first African American president,” Nicole Page, the boy’s mother said. “In this era how could such a statement be made, particularly by an English teacher.”

Administrators immediately launched an investigation into the alleged incident after Page notified the school’s principal, Jay Pearson, on Wednesday.

Pearson also met the parents of the student on Friday according to a school official with knowledge of the investigation.

School officials said they are taking the allegations seriously and are vigorously investigating Shumate’s claims.

A phone message left for Mrs. Bart was not immediately returned.

UPDATE: The school placed Bart on paid administrative leave.

Comments (33)
  1. Teacher says:

    Investigate and get both sides of the story, before you publish it -there is more to the story that what this mother and son are sharing with news stations.

  2. CBS says:

    Why are you reporting on this prior to hearing from the other side?

  3. Kathleen Rand Reed says:

    I am always delightfully amused when in the face of either stupidity, insensitivity or abject racism, there is assumed to be “another side.” There are some actions or events that have no equivalent. They are either wrong in the extreme or so egregious they defy any explanation. Such is asking the only African American male minor in a class to say, do, be or read “Blacker.” I wish I could feign ignorance in what “Blacker” means. But given American history and thus the history of racial assumptions about “Black people” and their contrived and tortured images, not only was the young man to add some well placed, “dems” and “dose”, but I am surprised he wasn’t asked to “cork up” and do some darkie “buck and wing”.

    Kathleen Rand Reed
    Anthropologist
    Portland, OR

    1. alfredo Corleone says:

      Wow, you seem to be more versed in this racism stuff than anyone else I know.

      1. Wanda says:

        You’re kidding, right, alfredo? It’s because she’s an ANTHROPOLOGIST!

    2. Blanca de la Nieve says:

      Kathleen Rand Reed (yawn): the English teacher is also “African-American”. With your ever-so politically correct illogic, and pompous academic credentials (YOU took pains to write your academic pedigree as “anthropologist”), explain the teacher’s overt intra-racism? Was she perhaps verbally humiliating the student to “act Blacker”: a code that Blacks use to threaten other Blacks “not to act White”? Please Ms. Anthropologist–shall we all genuflect at your academic alter of erudition? YOU are an ANTHROPOLOGIST–FROM PORTLAND, OR (double yawn)…YOU must know better than any of us who and what constitutes racism! Oh, I am swooning in anticipation of your coming tortured logic! P.S.: Like ALL typical Regressive pedagogues, YOU disguise your true racism in rhetorical quotes, pretending that a phantom, White, racist “somebody” MIGHT have subjected the student to a fairy tale racist event, in a parallel universe, of YOUR construction! Don’t confuse us with the facts and reality–just dazzle us with your use of fiction and fantasy. YOU–Ms. Rand Reed–are employing a very detestable, psychological trait called “projection”. So typical of the true racists who populate the corridors of academia; and particularly the “Social Sciences”: a grand misnomer!

      1. Kathleen Rand Reed says:

        Hey there, Snow White:

        The Walt Disney Company currently has a trademark application pending with the US Patent and Trademark Office, filed November 19, 2008, for the name “Snow White” that would cover all live and recorded movie, television, radio, stage, computer, Internet, news, and photographic entertainment uses, except literature works of fiction and nonfiction. You might want to check to see if the Spanish version is covered as well.

        Sorry to wake you (I guess that’s what the yawns were about), but I am not an “English Teacher” – just pretty facile with the language. It was only when I got to the “Illogic”, “pompous” and “intra-racism,” part that I then realized I was in the midst of someone who had turned logic on its head and was engaged in argumentum ad hominem.

        I assumed the “she” of which you spoke was the teacher and I would not hazard a guess as to her internal motivations. Sorry. As to the code of “not acting White,” – and how some Blacks “threaten” other Blacks, that’s also an area that’s filled with cultural and sociological landmines. What is apparent, is that, given the educational milieu, the new demographics with increased cultural variation, (immigrants included) and the geographic and socioeconomic profile of Fairfax County, it’s pretty stupid, insensitive or racist, (one can choose one or AOTA [All of the Above]), to delve into that landmine.

        If you must refer to me by my formal surname, it’s Reed. I prefer people who get to know me to call me Kate. Religion is another area I understand but rarely engage on a personal level. So the genuflecting should probably be saved for a church service or mass. I do remember my former husband genuflecting (the one knee kind) with a marriage proposal and that was sweet. The other reason that genuflecting is unnecessary is that genuflecting usually is followed, at least, in the Catholic and Episcopal denominations by the kissing of the ring. Since I have no ring, genuflecting would have to be followed by the only thing I have to offer to kiss – but oh, well, I go on too much.

        This is how I know you don’t know me. Erudition is primarily from books. While I am a deep, abiding bibliophile, most of my knowledge comes from a keen understanding of human nature, gleaned from observation, street smarts, and the ability to discern people who are innate haters. Across the board: themselves, their environments, their and their plight in life – ad nauseum. They are usually those who strike out at almost anything, anybody and anywhere – including, dare I say it, the broad advance of cyberspace.

        On the Portland, OR scene. You may be right about the double yawn. Since I am bi-coastal – Washington, DC AND Portland, OR, Portland is where I can do exactly that—double yawn. The nice thing is that the double yawn is so accessible. Mount Hood (great skiing in the summer) is an hour away east and the beach is an hour away west. Thank goodness for double yawns after the fever pitch of the hub-bub of Washington.

        No, I do not know racism better than anyone. Quite the contrary. Each day, I find new and more disturbing ways in which people learn to hate.

        Since I don’t know you, I’m a little taken aback by your swooning in anticipation for anything. You’re right, though. Some of my colleagues and I have great and lively discussions where, not only is our logic tortured, but since I am engaged in clinical research and bioethics, you should see some of the research designs and how tortured they can be when a scientist wants to fit the big foot of scientific success in the little shoe of the Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB). Now that’s tortured!

        “P.S.: Like ALL typical Regressive pedagogues, YOU disguise your
        true racism in rhetorical quotes, pretending that a phantom, White,
        racist “somebody” MIGHT have subjected the student to a fairy tale racist event, in a parallel universe, of YOUR construction!”

        Wow! That’s one helluva constructed sentence and that’s your postscript.
        The rest is so ad hominem, even I can not touch the oozing vitriol and derision.

        One of the most intriguing aspects of trolling through cyberspace and the metaverse, especially as an avatar sans haptics, is picking up (only for nanoseconds) negative energy. For many people who do not appreciate the power of physics, they avod it. However, negative energy can have positive effects. One can discover warps and wormholes for distant travel to places like Terok Nor or DS9. With the bending of space-time, one becomes much like Odo the changeling or shapeshifter. Me? After an encounter with “exotic matter” I like to go back to renormalization. Kind of like resting in Odo’s Bucket.

        Since we don’t exist on the same plane or platform and thus there are and will be no more encounters, I will have a warm feeling forgetting you. And now, in the words of Jean Luc-Picard on the deck about to disappear through the wormhole of space-time,
        “Au Revoir. Make it so…”

  4. Amazed says:

    Have we become so ‘sensitive’ to every comment? Do we know the entire story? Are we so “intellectually perfect” that we can pass judgement (Kathleen) on this story based upon the limited details in the article. Do we have to run to the press? Why is it okay for people of any race to taunt people of their same race with less than acceptable words, yet something like this has people ready to crucify this educator. Incredible. Who really is “stupid, insensitive, or racist” here? Are you sure you aren’t offending others who have posted with your ‘hate speech’ and ‘mean spirited’ language? Take a breath, America. The past 3 years this country has become a virtual powder keg – racial tensions higher than ever, and although we all certainly sympathize with the young student, this isn’t worth running to a newspaper or crucifying the teacher. Of course, I’m certain that I will be labeled “racist” and “hateful” – perhaps “ignorant” or “stupid” for daring to question the thought processes of the politically correct.

    1. Carlos says:

      The truth, as John Gilmore said, is “the most deadly weapon ever discovered by humanity. Capable of destroying entire perceptual sets, cultures, and realities. Outlawed by all governments everywhere. Possession is normally punishable by death”- And the truth, of course ,is that you are an ignorant, who would love to live in the glorious days of the KKK. But please do not underestimate yourself, because at least you admitted that you are an ignorant and a racist. In spite of the foregoing, your political views are protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution and that is called democracy. But you are, I think, an adult not a child, and that is the difference and the only truth in this case. There is a big difference between an adult and a young kid, unless you are so ignorant to recognize that scientific and legal fact. Of course it seems that for you a black kid is not a person. Nonetheless, my question for you is the following: How would you respond if a black teacher told your daughter or you mother that she is a white trash prostitute? Well according to your response you will give him a badge of honor. You will never change because stupidity is not only the most contagious illness, but also because there is no vaccine against it. Good luck.

      1. alfredo Corleone says:

        What is truth?

      2. Carlos the jackal says:

        lucky for you , you are actually on the side of those said govts, a “French Revolutionary” if you will, probably here illegally, and waving los illegallos flag. you have no truth, only the mob. quite a moronic analogy you made.

    2. alfredo Corleone says:

      the teacher herself is African American

      1. Carlos says:

        Wrong the teacher is white, but that is not the point because at stake is whether is appropriate for a teacher to offend a young student. The answer is no. And the truth regarding you is that you are also an ignorant and proud of it. For you thinking is a sin. Good luck.

      2. Corfredo Alleone says:

        “What is truth?” were the last words of Pontius Pilate recorded in the Bible. That’s right: he was the world’s first relativist.

      3. Carlos says:

        Well is that is your point of reference there no relativity about your persona: you are a very proud ignorant. By the way I am not a relativist and I am quite sure you do not understand the meaning of said word the current philosophical debate between relativist an non relativists. But you are so uneducated that you are incapable to even read about such debate. As Professor Simon Blacburn wrote, and he is not a relativist the saying “There are no facts, only, only interpretations,” could serve s a moto for the relativist movement. Well the undeniable fact is that a teacher mistreated a student either by racial motives or not, but since the kid is black for you is question of relativity. And guess I am white, but not so ignorant like you. You should read more than the comics.

  5. Diane H says:

    It definitely was insensitive of this teacher to say what she did and to single this student out to read this poem. The teacher needs sensitivity training. But I was interested to find out what the poem was about. It was a good poem illustrating the inequities in Harlem in the 1930’s, judges siding with slumlords against their tenants, especially when the tenant was black. It was good that this poem was in the curriculum.

  6. Ignant says:

    You know what? Y’all just go ovaboard a’bout any lil ole thang. Come’on da woman was just encour’gin the young’n to speak in da vernacular. If he’d been ma child, I wuld’a sent him back ta school the nex day well versed in how’ta read dat poem. And, I’m is black wid 2 mastas degrees and plan’n on a doctoral program nex yeah.

    1. Kathleen Rand Reed says:

      Ignant:

      You are hilarious. I can’t tell you how I needed to see your post and just fall off the chair LOL. Every now and then there is such a thing as relief. Your rendition of the verbal, “buck and wing” was priceless. Trust me, with a sense of humor bordering on the “hole ‘yo side splittin’ kind”, you will do quite well “wid ‘yo 2 mastas degrees and ‘yo doctoral program nex yeah.” Thanks for the howl…

  7. Ron Fuller says:

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

  8. Ron Fuller says:

    The teacher herself is African American.

  9. Ron Fuller says:

    The teacher was white. Sorry for the confusion.

    1. Ron Fuller says:

      The teacher was orange, actually. Sorry for the further confusion! #toomuchbronzer

      1. Ron Fuller says:

        On further investigation, I’ve discovered that the teacher was actually a piece of cornbread. So she was actually a nice golden-brown. #CrackerBarrell

  10. Lora MooreJohnosn says:

    Read blacker?The last time I checked we were being taught to speak clearly and to enunciate our words properly. NOUNS, VERBS, PRONOUNS, ETC… isn’t this what is still being taught in our schools today? It would almost appear that as more time goes by anything goes and we are just to accept it. Keep the black peope looking and sounding as ignorant as society has tried to portray us. I am absolutly outraged that something like this happened and by someone we entrust our children to be taught by. What lesson was learned that day?

  11. Stephen Adams says:

    This woman is a teacher, someone in a position of responsibility. To ask this young man why blacks like grape soda and rap music in front of the class is an a obvious attempt to entertain the class with racist stereotypes. Her theatrical version of what black people should sound like while speaking has no relevance to this young man reading to his classmates.

  12. Ignant says:

    Naaaow I doan’waana get on nobodees nerves roun heah but iss a couple’a yall who’s hol’n on ta some dubl standards, yeah. Cuz ya’ll no good’n well dat when yall roun black folk you do yo bes ta drop da bottum out da Queen’s prop’pa English an’ talk like yu ain neva leff home.

    As i gru up, all da black folk in my nayba’hood messed wid me day’n nite cuz i went ta dat privit school an soun’did like i was white. y’all know what i’m talk’n bout. So, i had ta lern how to disquise ma white tongue jess to keep from hav’n ta fite. But, when i shoo’d up fo school or went down town, i put it on ’em lik’a schola from Oxfud.

    So get off dat ladyeeess case an accep da fact dat we got skills. jus cuz da boy jump off in da vernacula don’t meen he gon stay dair. encour’g hem ta expan ver’d’cly as well as hor’zontly an be proud.

    An i got my 22 mont ole baby sitt’n ri’chair jibber-jabber’n in English, Arabic and Amharic (Ethiopian) and b’foe she six she’ll be speak’n Spanish and den we gon work on some Chinese by the time she twelve. Encourage dem chil’ren . . . we got ev’ry thing to gain and nu’thin to lose. Jes swallow a lil u dat bad taase from jim crow and reelize dat we done ova’com an it don matta how we say it . . . dat’s how bad we is.

    Now, let me get right and proper for a minute. The pith of my argument is that babies innately pick up verbal sounds and intonations before they are born. At about 7 months of age, they have an open window wherein they categorize languages until they are about 11 to 12 months old. From that time until they reach late stages of adolescence in the right environment they are able to learn as many languages to which they are exposed.

    What is most critical is that adults are going to have to wake up and realize that this is the 21st century. More than ever before, children learn and think differently. They are digital natives (please look that term up). Our children have learned how to have fun as they are learning. I believe that the teacher was merely trying to encourage the student to relax and enjoy himself. I trust that she wasn’t attempting to express racist overtones in her classroom. Perhaps what she was saying was, “Hey I respect where you came from and it’s okay for you to express that part of you and/or your heritage in this environment.” Perhaps she was saying, “I’m one of your care givers and I assure you that you are in a safe place.” I’m going to give the teacher the benefit of the doubt because Miss Johnson slapped a yard-stick across my desk when I was in the 3rd grade to get my attention and then told me to say “ass—k”, instead of “axe.” And, from that day forward I was proud to say, “May I ask you a question?” instead of “Can I axe you a queschen?”

    Okay . . . . I’m going to stop here . . . at least for now. But, Umm’a hang tuff an stan ma groun. So if you got issue, com’on, I’m heyeah wait’n on ya.

  13. Jane Duh says:

    She’s from Baltimore, which explains it all (I wonder how she’d feel if someone said THAT to her.) As a minority myself, I have experienced the point of view that city has to offer towards minorities. Her comment is therefore no surprise……nonetheless, absolutely disgusting!

    1. Rowdy Boots says:

      There is not a major city in America that does not cater to minorities with unbelievable entitlements and preference.

      They are all Democrat Cities–so what is your complaint? You voted them in!

      Try being a white male in these cities and then call me–this is 2012, not 1968

  14. baldfish says:

    Exactly which of these people in this article are from Africa?

  15. Deskboy says:

    Gee if only there had been this kind of hard hitting reporting on a foreign exchange student from Indonesia that went by the name of Barry Soetero

  16. Mike says:

    African-American? Why didn’t the article mention the teacher as “European-American” or “Scandinavian-American” or whatever? Why only give the hyphenated name to the black kid?
    Why not just call the kid “black”? We used to do that but then that was racist so we went to “person of color” (which is kind of like ‘Person of Color” backwards) but that apparently offended some, so now it’s “African-American” although many of these people can’t trace their roots to Africa. Why not just call them “Far from White-Americans”… that would make them feel better about themselves.
    Thanks to Barack Obama, aka Bari Shabazz (son of Malcolm X and Jo Ann Newman) for dividing our country further along racial lines. What a man!

  17. Peter Griffin says:

    I see the liberals at the local CBS affiliate are getting busy with the censorship delete key. They claim to be champions of free speech but that really is just free speech that they agree with. With that said we will see if this actually gets posted and then if it actually stays up since it will gore several of their sacred cows.

    No matter what color the teacher is, do we now have fools claiming that black students (note that I did not say African-American which actually means the person was born to either at least one American parent in Africa or one African parent in America) can’t be called on in class if the topic in question has some sort of black component to it?

    As for offense, apparently only non-whites get to be offended today in the media unless it is some kook white attacking their own race. Perhaps today’s liberals are too thin skinned. Is it right for them or anyone else to “be offended” when no offense was actually made or even attempted?

    And why exactly is it that anyone who defends a White person, country, or culture that gets to be labelled racist but when the same defense is made by a non-white of non-white person, country, or culture that is considered not only legitimate but the preferred course? To be honest I was not familiar with any of Hughes’ work but after reading some it, it is clear to me that if he had been white talking about whites his work would not be allowed in the schools of today because of its overt racism and use of stereotype.

  18. bh says:

    So what’s the answer? Why do blacks like grape soda and rap music? So because he is black, he shouldn’t be asked to read the poem, “Blacker?” Wouldn’t that be racist? Political correctness is nothing more than censorship and this is a prime example. We are asked to ignore the fact that blacks, by and large, like rap music, but even though rap music is mostly performed by blacks and blacks purchase a mojority of those record labels. The same could be said of grape soda.

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