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  1. #1
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    Ninth-grader says teacher told him to read Langston Hughes poem 'blacker'

    http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/20...s-poem-blacker

    A veteran Fairfax County high school teacher has been accused of using racially insensitive language by telling a student to read a Langston Hughes poem in a "blacker" style.

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

    "She told me, 'Blacker, Jordan. C'mon, blacker. I thought you were black,'" Shumate told the Post. The 14-year-old student claimed that when he refused to continue reading the poem, the teacher read it herself, apparently to demonstrate the style of speaking she meant.


    More at link....WHAT was she thinking??>?

  2. #2
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    She was thinking that the poem is written in a dialect common to some African-Americans at the time and NOT thinking that the student might not know the dialect or be comfortable using it just because his skin was a certain color.

    And she compounded the error by not using the student's refusal as a "teachable moment". (I don't mean she should have taught him the dialect or even tried to change his mind on the subject, but that she could have had a conversation about the meanings and value of regional speech patterns.)

    What a shame! Because Langston Hughes was a great poet.

  3. #3
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    These kids are not actors they are children, I wonder how she would have someone read Shakespeare.
    It's almost been a year since we did our last show.Jay Bush my partner has been auditioning for the show Shark Tank and so this has put the show on hold. If he gets on Shark Tank, we will be terribly delayed. Good luck Jay. Either way we will one day continue the show and have the coolest global independent radio station out there. This is just a small video we did with one of our artists.Waiting for One and their tune 35 years. Check it out.
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  4. #4
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    hmmm....I think she may have been insensitive, but if the child was in drama class, it's not that uncommon. Please speak in a British accent, or please speak in an ebonic tone (more southern African American). Of course this is a drama course not an english classroom.

    I know I can't hardly read that poem without a southern drawl to it (which would probably have been a more appropriate word for her to use rather than "blacker").

    I guess I don't understand why he would be offended. And you're right - it could have been a very teachable moment without offending anyone.

    MOOOOO - thanks.

    Mel

  5. #5
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    I shudder to think what she might have asked, had the poem been Strange Fruit.

    Recording by Langston Hughes:



    The poem itself:

    The Ballad Of The Landlord by Langston Hughes
    Last edited by KateB; 06-18-2015 at 05:31 PM. Reason: repair url tag.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by shana View Post
    I shudder to think what she might have asked, had the poem been Hughes's Strange Fruit.

    Recording by Langston Hughes:

    LH Ballad of the Landlord 1954

    The poem itself:

    The Ballad Of The Landlord by Langston Hughes
    I don't like that poem, however it is real and tells a true story. Billie Holiday sung it quite well. That's probably the only way I can imagine it being read (sung). You can find quite a few versions of this poem being sung and rapped to on the internet (Strange Fruit poem).

    MOO

    Mel

  7. #7
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    From the Washington Post article linked below:

    If the teacher thought the poem should be delivered in a Southern dialect, she could have said so without referring to race, Cober Page said.

    Shumate said it wasn’t the only time that he felt singled out in English class because of his race.


    More at LINK

    Note: Cober Page is Schumate's mother.

  8. #8
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    OT but I had never read any Langston Hughes, so I looked him up and wow I really like his stuff, it is so rythmic I can almost sing song every poem that I read. A lot of the poems also tell the story of his time. Now I need to look for a book of his poems to buy.
    "Words can break someone into a million pieces, but they can also put them back together. I hope you use yours for good, because the only words you'll regret more than the ones left unsaid are the ones you use to intentionally hurt someone."

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by shana View Post
    From the Washington Post article linked below:

    If the teacher thought the poem should be delivered in a Southern dialect, she could have said so without referring to race, Cober Page said.

    Shumate said it wasn’t the only time that he felt singled out in English class because of his race.


    More at LINK

    Note: Cober Page is Schumate's mother.
    My point exactly - she should have said "Southern" vs. "Blacker".

    MOO

    Mel

  10. #10
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    Marilyn Bart (the so-called English Lit. teacher) missed the point entirely.

    The message of this poem has nothing whatsoever to do with an accent or regional dialect.

    The message of this poem is about slumlords, racial discrimination, and socioeconomic injustice.

    The written word, if written well, will deliver its message. This Langston Hughes poem delivers its message, regardless of the speaker, because the voice of this poem speaks the truth.

    Marilyn Bart has no business teaching English Lit. If a piece of literature has been written well (as this piece was), it makes no difference whatsoever what accent (or lack thereof) in which it is delivered - the literature will speak for itself.

    It was Marilyn Bart's job to facilitate a discussion regarding the literary expression of the cultural conflicts and idioms contained within that poem.

    I give Marilyn Bart a big fat "F".
    To understand the soul of a horse is the closest we humans can come to knowing perfection.


  11. #11
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    The most egregious thing allegedly said is; "I thought you were black". What does that mean? I'm sure it's obvious he's black, so does she think that means he has to speak a certain way or act a certain way?

  12. #12
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    Seriously? This is why racism is such a big deal still, because people find the stupidest things that are said and call them racist. In order for racism to go away people need to stop getting all bent out of shape over this kind of stuff.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by leanaí View Post
    Seriously? This is why racism is such a big deal still, because people find the stupidest things that are said and call them racist. In order for racism to go away people need to stop getting all bent out of shape over this kind of stuff.

    Actually, the fact that this teacher thought her comments were "no big deal" is a perfect illustration of how racism IS still a problem. It's so ingrained that some don't give it a second thought.

    Her words were insensitive and she should be reprimanded. I don't think she should be fired, but an apology, some training and personal reflection are certainly in order.


    "I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
    -Martin Luther King, Jr.



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
    The most egregious thing allegedly said is; "I thought you were black". What does that mean? I'm sure it's obvious he's black, so does she think that means he has to speak a certain way or act a certain way?
    That's what I was thinking. When the teacher requested a "black" dialect, the student should have responded: Which one?

    That said, I think that JS along with his parents should have approached the teacher before they went to the media and simply told her that, as JS put it, he's not "the king of black people" and to stop pigeonholing him. And if that didn't work, then go to the media.
    all my comments are just my opinion. jmho. moo. etc. etc.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velouria View Post
    Actually, the fact that this teacher thought her comments were "no big deal" is a perfect illustration of how racism IS still a problem. It's so ingrained that some don't give it a second thought.

    Her words were insensitive and she should be reprimanded. I don't think she should be fired, but an apology, some training and personal reflection are certainly in order.
    Insensitivity and racism are not the same thing. It's similar to the countless times I've been brought Spanish text to proof. People make assumptions about me based on my olive complexion and my name. Annoying, yes but racism, not really.
    all my comments are just my opinion. jmho. moo. etc. etc.

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