On the last day of school a group of my students drew a picture of me and my drum set in chalk on the blackboard. I miss their smiling faces and their warm hugs; most times it was the only hug I would get all day.
If Sam McNair – the 17-year-old African-American high school senior in Duluth, Georgia, who was suspended on December 3rd for sexual harassment after hugging his teacher to “show appreciation” for all they do for him – gave me a hug at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have pushed him away, I would have hugged him and dammit, I would’ve hugged him tight.
To be honest, the embrace would’ve been more for me than for him, although I’m sure he needs it just as much as I do.
I actually miss the hugs from my students; most times it was the only hug I would get all day.
Last year I had the privilege to return back to my elementary school in South Philly and teach the Flood the Drummer® method to a very active group of students, ranging from kindergarten to third grade. They feel in love with the drums and I feel in love with them.
“Mr. Chriiiiiiiiiiis!” they would shout, when I walked in the room. After bombarding me with hugs—some actually wrapped around my ankle, begging me to drag them across the floor—they would all ask—at different times and varying volumes: “Are we playing drums today, Mr. Chris? Did you remember to bring your foot pedal this time, Mr. Chris? Can I help you set up the drums today, Mr. Chris?”
Once I peeled their hands of my body, dusted the crumbs of my clothes and instructed them to their seats, I would rotate around the room while they finished their snack and ask them about their day. Whatever table I wasn’t sitting at became jealous and anxious, they would usually say something like: “Ok, Mr. Chris, come on to our table now, you’re taking too long!” Sometimes, depending on which kid was feeling strong and bold after eating their “freebie,” they would walk up to me, grab my hand, and say: “Come sit with us, now!”
When we had free-time, the boys dominated my schedule, as I would have to perform—almost daily—a gauntlet against more than 10, two-foot tall would-be WWE superstars.
“I’m John Cena,” Jabril would yell, as he waves his hand in front of his face, imitating his larger-than-life hero, who’s also plastered on his black and red book bag.
“I’m Kane,” Toussant would always say, he was the most active of them all, and probably the strongest.
“Who are you going to be, Mr. Chris?” they would ask.
“I’m the Ullllllllltttimate Warrior,” I would yell, as loud as I could, shaking my head uncontrollably.
“That’s not a wrestler,” Jayshawn would assert, giggling.
“Yes he is, but you a youngbull, you don’t know anything about that,” I’d reply.
“You and youngbull, Mr. Chris,” one of them would say smiling. And with that word in play, the royal rumble began. Even my six-foot tall frame was no match for these kids, as the first move out of their arsenal was usually a low blow.
Despite the occasional groin injury, I enjoyed the physical interactions with my students. It was always done in front of another teacher, but beyond that, it was always with love and a good heart.
To Sam McNair, I know it sucks that you’ll be suspended for the rest of the year because you wanted to show someone you care. And I know nothing will ever fill the void of not participating in all the experiences that come with being a senior in high school, but if you’re ever in Philadelphia, look me up and give me hug.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
Source: TBO Inc®
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Photo: C. Norris