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Dress 'African-American,' Read the Poem 'Blacker' and More Race Fails in American Schools

race fails in school, racism in schools, racist math problems, racial incidents in schools, black in america

Yes, this stuff still happens... all the time.

Lord. That is the one word expression I have taken to using when I am exasperated at the state of things. Lord. Because sometimes it feels like only the Lord can help us curb the extreme levels of stupid and crazy all around us these days. Case in point: the bevy of stories that have cropped up in the last few years involving both glaringly obvious and more subtle forms of racism in American schools. I find it simply ridiculous (and I mean that in the sense of both unbelievable and absurd) that incidents like these are still occurring in schools all across the country.

Some of the incidents chronicled below were perpetrated by students and will make you laugh at the stupidity involved, others were incited by teachers or administrations and will get your blood boiling. One thing is certain: they will all illuminate to you that the dream of a truly “post-racial America” is further away than many of us would like to admit. (Especially in the South. Ahem.)


  • ‘African-American’ Attire 1 of 12
    'African-American' Attire
    This letter, sent home to parents with children at Western Union Elementary School in Waxhaw, North Carolina, surfaced last week on The Frisky. So much wrong. Hey kids - if you don't have saggy pants and a gun, wear animal print!
  • Read the Poem ‘Blacker’ 2 of 12
    Read the Poem 'Blacker'
    Recently, Jordan Shumate, a ninth-grader at George C. Marshall High School in Falls Church, Va., was reading Langston Hughes' "Ballad of the Landlord" aloud when teacher Marilyn Bart told him to read the poem "blacker." Shumate is the only black student in the class. Shumate told reporters the incident was "very, very unprofessional." Good for you, Jordan. For the record, Shumate was asked by the same teacher to explain why black kids like grape soda, which is when Jordan decided to tell his mom something was rotten in the state of Denmark.
  • Gainesville High School Girls’ Racist YouTube Rant 3 of 12
    Gainesville High School Girls' Racist YouTube Rant
    In February, two girls who attended Gainesville High School in Florida filmed a 15-minute rant mocking black students at their school, replete with use of the n word.
  • Slavery Math 4 of 12
    Slavery Math
    In January, a GA school received nationwide attention for using racist problems about slaves being beaten in a 3rd grade math class.
  • School Names White Girl with Lower Grades Co-Valedictorian 5 of 12
    School Names White Girl with Lower Grades Co-Valedictorian
    At graduation time last year, Kymberly Wimberly was notified by her Arkansas high school that she would not be honored as sole valedictorian. Wimberly believes it's because she's black and had a baby during her junior year, which she says was "not a good look."
  • Mississippi Shackling Students 6 of 12
    Mississippi Shackling Students
    June 2011 - It was reported that a Mississippi high school was responding to minor violations such as an untucked shirt by shackling minority students to railings and poles for hours at a time.
  • Black Mom Jailed for Sending Kids to Good School 7 of 12
    Black Mom Jailed for Sending Kids to Good School
    Akron, OH, January 2011 - Kelley Williams-Bolar was convicted of two felony counts of tampering with court records after registering her two girls as living with their grandfather so they could go to a better school. Other parents were found to have lied about their residency but were not punished. Ohio Governor John Kasich reduced Bolar's offenses to misdemeanors so as not to prevent her from being able to teach herself one day.
  • Student Dons KKK Hood in School 8 of 12
    Student Dons KKK Hood in School
    March 2011 - A student at Alta High School in Utah wore a KKK hood to a pep rally. Department of Justice investigators also discovered images of burning crosses on the cell phones of 2 other students.
  • Mississippi School Finally Ends Rule Against Black Student Leaders 9 of 12
    Mississippi School Finally Ends Rule Against Black Student Leaders
    Until August 2010, black students were not allowed to be class leaders at Nettleton Middle School in Mississippi. That's it. There's no punchline. The whole story is a joke.
  • Black Girl Kicked Out of Class for Hair Product 10 of 12
    Black Girl Kicked Out of Class for Hair Product
    This one is just cray, y'all: In June 2010, the only black girl in an accelerated class was put in a non-accelerated class with other black students because her teacher says the smell of the 8-year-old girl's olive oil hair product was making her sick. ZOMG.
  • Fried Chicken and Collard Greens for MLK 11 of 12
    Fried Chicken and Collard Greens for MLK
    January 2010 - A Denver school was in hot water for their planned menu of fried chicken and collard greens in celebration of MLK Day. The meal was never served, since parents voiced their outrage well before the day came, thanks to those month-long school menus!
  • More Racist Math 12 of 12
    More Racist Math
    November 2009 - Philadelphia middle schoolers were given a math worksheet with this image on it. As in other examples, the only black student in class was harassed by another student who asked him, "Is that your father?" Ugh.

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