Fairfax County, Virginia school administrators have placed a school teacher on paid administrative leave after she reportedly asked the only black student in class to read a poem in a “blacker” voice.
“She interrupted me after I finished the first stanza, and told me to read it ‘blacker,’” recounted ninth-grader Jordan Shumate. “She said, ‘Blacker, Jordan. Come on, I thought you were black.’”
The poem was “Ballad of the Landlord.” It was written in 1940 about a black tenant thrown in jail for challenging a landlord.
Ninth-grader Jordan Shumate says he was reading a poem by Langston Hughes when his teacher at George C. Marshall High School interrupted. The 14-year-old says the teacher told him to read it “blacker” and said “I thought you were black.”
When Shumate refused to continue, the teacher read it herself.
Shumate’s mother complained to school administrators this week. Another student says she witnessed the incident, too.
The teacher had also previously asked him if he could rap a poem by Tupac Shakur in front of the class, Jordan’s mother told Wamu.org.
The teacher is currently on a paid administrative leave while the district investigates the allegations.