'Read It Blacker' Student's Mom Wants Apology

The mother of a ninth-grader told to read a Langston Hughes poem "blacker" talked to The Root about what should happen next.

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Virginia ninth-grader Jordan Shumate says that during class this month, he was reading aloud a poem by acclaimed African-American writer Langston Hughes when his teacher interrupted and directed him to read in a "blacker" style. When he didn't comply, she demonstrated for him. And when he asked her why she thought all black people spoke that way, Shumate says he was reprimanded for speaking out of turn.

His mother, Nicole Page, told The Root on Thursday that while the investigation into the incident has not yet been completed, she's hopeful about a resolution and is not attached to any particular outcome, so long as it includes an acknowledgment that the event took place and an apology from the teacher. "As long as the process is thoughtful, and they look at all of the facts, acknowledge that my son told the truth, in the future implement some racial [sensitivity] training, I will feel comfortable," she said, adding that she'd just completed a "very good meeting" with school officials.

And what about Jordan himself? He's doing well and "staying focused" and has the support of his friends, his mom reports.

"He just wanted to express himself and have it be known that he told the truth," Page says, adding that her son most likely wouldn't be comfortable being taught again by the teacher who made the remarks.

The most important outcome of the national attention given to the incident, in her view, is that other students who find themselves in situations like Jordan's and are singled out for their race feel empowered to speak up. Some of them, she says, already have.

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