Saturday, April 19, 2008

Beyond FINESSE: Drama Mama at Like a Shark

So I’m scanning my favorite blogs, catching up on everyone’s news, and Drama Mama—also known as lovely Miss M’s mom—stops me short with more than one recent heartfelt, knock-your-socks-off post despite the fact she’s been working herself ragged and relishing the fruits of her exhaustion the way only a phenomenally inspired and creative educator can.

What I read over again, realizing I had to feature it here, was her Hot Button Issue post. When a student gave Drama Mama the button pictured above, Drama Mama not only wore it all day, she taught a few of her other students—as well as some co-workers and various strangers—an important lesson…and gave many others a reason to smile. A few gave her confused looks and said “But you’re not black;” or “Is that a new group?” Others, thankfully, said simply “I like your button.”

To the latter folks, Drama Mama notes: “I suppose anyone who feels different, who experiences challenge and overcomes it, who is proud and righteous and wants to make a change feels ‘black.’ That is not to diminish what it truly means to be black.… We are a tribe, and we look out for each other.”

To those who were confused, she explains:

“I was not conducting an experiment, or trying to get a rise out of folks. My student gave me a gift, and I, touched by her gesture of inclusion, wore it proudly. I mean, I am honored that she considers me an honorary member of her tribe.…

“The message to me [from this student] was this: You see me. You feel what I feel. You appreciate my difference, as well as our similarities. I’m proud of myself, and you’re proud of me.”

Would that every student felt so understood, in and out of school. Rock on, Drama Mama. I’m glad you’re in my tribe, too.


Blogger Mary Ann said...

Thank you for introducing me to Drama Mama. I just visited her blog and enjoyed reading about her and Miss M.

I'm pausing before publishing, thinking that I wouldn't wear a button that says "I heart being White" but I would like one that says "I heart being Me." I'm not sure where I'm going with this except that it says something about identity. Must think more about this...

10:46 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hey, that's a pretty cool story!

9:40 PM  
Blogger Barrie said...

"We are a tribe." Now, that is a great expression!

12:39 AM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

Hey ladies, you're all right: Drama Mama offered up a cool story with a great message that gives us all plenty to think about! K.

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would never wear a button that said anything at all. They are sort of like bumper stickers, which I despise.

I'm still puzzled why a "white" person would wear a button claiming to be black. That's makes just about as much sense as Bill Clinton claiming to be the "first black presiden."

Sigh. Someday somebody will wear a button like that and nobody will have the faintest idea what it means.

7:41 AM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

Gerry, I do think Drama Mama would have offended her student if she hadn't worn the button since it was a gift with a lot of honest emotion behind it. I agree with your take on bumper stickers but in this instance believe DM did a noble thing for good reasons and made more than a few people think twice about what she was saying while she was at it -- and even long after she did it.

I'm anxious to get back to visiting blogs again, which I love to do...if only I didn't need to sleep so much! K.

8:15 AM  
Blogger Mary Ann said...

Ok, I've thought about this all week and have decided there are two reasons I wouldn't wear a button that says "I heart being White."

One is because it would lend support to the notion that being White is a good thing, perhaps better than the alternatives, and that's already a common misperception in America. Whereas being Black needs to be promoted as also being a good thing? Especially with people who may receive messages, subtle and otherwise, that Black is not a good thing from people who are racist, whether they are aware of it or not.

And the other reason is that it makes me sad to be separated by race. I recall sitting with three colleagues, two women and one man, who were Black and we were talking about what clothes we should wear to a "business casual" retreat. And one woman said, "Well, we wouldn't wear that." And I said, "Oh I would actually." And she said, "No WE wouldn't wear that." And they all laughed and I sat there thinking that until that moment I thought we were all friends, equally.

And so it's that thought that brings me back here to comment. Because the student was saying to the teacher, I think, that the two of them are the same. In spite of what the skin might say, the student feels that she and her teacher are both Black, are both the same. And I love that.

4:38 AM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

I do too, Mary Ann. Thanks for your story and personal insights into all this. It still amazes me where discussions about race lead; if only they were discussions folks had more often! K.

8:11 AM  
Blogger Carleen Brice said...

Tag, you're it!

7:51 AM  

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