Fairfax Teacher Probed Over Racial Insensitivity Allegations

Ninth-grader says teacher instructed him to read poem "blacker"

Saturday, Mar 17, 2012  |  Updated 9:59 AM EDT
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Teacher Accused Of Racial Insensitivity

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A Fairfax County high school teacher is being investigated for using racially insensitive language by telling a student to read a Langston Hughes poem "blacker."

Jordan Shumate, a ninth-grader at George C. Marshall High School in Falls Church, told the Washington Post that he was reading Hughes' "Ballad of the Landlord" when teacher Marilyn Bart interrupted him.

"She told me 'Blacker, Jordan. C'mon, blacker. I thought you were black,'" Shumate told the Post. He claimed that when he refused to continue reading the poem, Bart read it herself, apparently to demonstrate the style of speaking she meant.

"She sounded like a maid on the 1960s," said Shumate, who said he asked Bart if she thought all black people spoke that way. He was allegedly reprimanded for talking out of turn and was told to sit down.

Marshall High School Principal Jay Pearson told the Post Friday that the matter was under investigation, but declined to provide further details. Bart has not spoken publicly about the alleged incident.

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