Epic Shade Is Made of Mirrors and Flashlights

One of my favorite people @TWestfield once had a facebook status that said something like: here's a mirror and a flashlight so some of y'all can go find yourself... It was far more eloquently and poignantly stated than that, but that was the gist. I fell in love with the statement immediately, even going so far as to work it into the answer to the integrative question I was asked during my 2-day comprehensive exam period (which ended today). I resonated with it because I feel like that's so much of what I do in working in schools with kids. I'm a mirror for them and I'm handing out flashlights.

K. Pause that for a second.

A couple of nights ago Oprah aired her interview of Bobbi Kristina Brown and Pat Houston. When a friend of mine and I talked about it, I liked what she said: Oprah asked good questions that Pat answered openly and honestly. There were 2 points in the conversation where my Twitter timeline lit up. The first was when Pat referenced Whitney Houston's apparent search for love in the wrong places. Pat made mention of younger guys and many folks took that as a stab at RayJ; Whitney's often rumored boyfriend.

The second was Pat's description of Whitney's last night out where she had an apparent confrontation with a woman Pat could not name (but was apparently Stacy Francis, a former X-Factor contestant). Pat was very clear that she had nothing ill to say about the woman, who she also clearly stated she did not know and could not name; however many folks in my timeline took that as very well-delivered and well-placed shade.

Shade, for those who may be unfamiliar, is basically a thinly-veiled dis. Veiled enough that you might, if you move to fast, miss it, but thinly enough that you'll probably catch it.

Pat Houston was very poised, very well-spoken, and calm throughout the interview. The tone of her voice never changed, no matter the topic and because of that several folks I saw on twitter priased her for her amazing ability to throw shade.

Not too long ago I was having a conversation with several friends and in it, one mentioned that one of my secret weapons in the "war of words" was my ability to make fun of someone without them knowing it. That wasn't the first time I'd had someone tell me that, but I took a minute to consider what they were saying. It is true -- I can hurt your feelings in a way that may be hard to respond to. I can be quick with my words and when my dry wit and sarcasm meet up, what results can be very rude, a little funny and you really might miss it if you're not up to the challenge. It's not necessarily a trait I'm proud of, but I can admit that I have it.

It occurred to me, as I read some of the responses to Pat Houston's interview, that there is a bit of an art to well-delivered shade. What was actually so epic about Pat was how she remained calm through the interview. That was mostly because she was stating facts -- at least as she knew them. If she was throwing Ray-J shade, and who knows for sure, she was stating the facts as she saw them. As I mentioned on twitter, the best shade, the most epic shade, utilizes relevant facts. Why does that work? Because all an individual is doing is holding up a mirror for you to see yourself.

So back to me being a mirror. See the thing about mirrors is that they don't lie. They can only tell you what you tell them. You may not be ready to hear (or see) it, you may not be ready to accept it as fact but the mirror doesn't change what it tells you based on what you want to know. It is just a reflection; it is just you; it is just what you spit out. And so is true of what some my call "epic shade." All you need to be able to do is accurately reflect whatever mess a person is spitting out in the first place and shine a little light on it so they can see it clearly (because while a mirror still tells the truth in the dark, it's far easier to ignore).

The minute you tread into irrelevant facts about a person, maybe the way they look for example, your shade is no longer useful and it's not of the epic or mirror variety. You've stepped over into your own personal opinions and I can argue you down about your opinions all day; I can't argue with the truth.

So the fair question is: am I shading my kids when I work with them? Some might think that and when I've relayed stories of working with them sometimes people say "wow, I'm afraid for those kids..." (that's a whole other topic, but if you think that working in a school necessitates being sweet like candy all the time, you need a reality check in the worst way). But all I'm aiming to do, in a developmentally appropriate way, is show a child what it is they are showing the rest of us and ask them: "is this who you want to be?"

I've actually found kids deal with that a lot better than adults...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Now open to everyone! Leave a comment -- let me know what you think.