Hedreich Nichols

June 2020

A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action

#SmallBites E3

Small Bites Friday Five 06-26-20:

20-30m – Set up a doc with contact info of https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials. Then create a basic “Dear Official” template. Use it often to quickly and efficiently let your voice be heard.

15-20m – Use Ballotpedia to find out when school board elections are and what’s at stake, then vote. Better yet, run for office or help support someone who will!

10-15m – Watch Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man from Emmanuel Acho.

5-10m – Remember last week’s conversation you had with a young person on race? This week talk with someone older than you. Again, don’t guide the conversation, just listen.

0-5m – Find an organization to support or donate to.

The recent protests and Covid19 have combined to spotlight inequities that have long plagued our country. People who don’t look like me are waking up to the reality that people who do look like me face daily. They are finding out that we are more likely to die early; in childbirth, of curable diseases, from violence. We make less money, hit glass ceilings before our less pigmented peers and are, as a community, experiencing the traumatic effects of the vestiges of enslavement, Jim Crow and systemic inequitable practices of the last 400 years.

People are beginning to have conversations about issues of racial inequities that are long overdue. I’m glad.

I’m also tired.

I am tired of big words and bigger concepts. How do I fight systemic racial discrimination and marginalization anyway? Do I use a sword? A pen? Expo Markers? A protest sign? How can I fight hate? With more trainings? With firings? With well-crafted laws? We’ve seen how well those work.

Yes, we need to talk, listen, have uncomfortable conversations. But if we are not taking some form of action while we are talking, listening and learning, we are getting smarter but not making an impact on students and communities. While you are reading the third chapter of White Fragility, a child is going hungry, a man is dying of preventable causes before he’s reached retirement and another top student is leaving an ivy league campus because the constant onslaught of microaggressions has started to affect her mental health (“Oh, you’re only here because of affirmative action, right?”).

Let me be clear, the talking, listening and learning are necessary. It’s just that they are not a precursor to action, not a phase that we complete before we go on to the action phase. The action phase has to happen now. If you’re not sure how to start, watch episode 3 of #Smallbites (and 1 and 2) to find out what you can do this week.

The world needs your voice, but it needs your hand to the plow too.

A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action Read More »

Keep On Keeping On

Small Bites Friday Five 06-19-20:

20-30m – Google anti-racism or something simple like “how to be a more culturally responsive teacher”. Nothing beats finding your own rabbit hole to fall into.

15-20m – Google “HBCU”, pick one and then read about its rich history and even consider giving your support. Here’s one option.

10-15m – Read or watch a social justice story from your favorite news outlet then read or watch a story covering the same topic from your least trusted news source. Reflect on perspective vs. fact.

5-10m – Have a conversation with at least one child or teen about race in America. Don’t proselytize, just listen. Consider it a fact-finding mission.

0-5m – Read “Teaching as Activism, Teaching as Care” from tolerance.org.

Every January I start a new health and fitness routine. Like clockwork. And every March I start the slow slide into the next January when I have to start all over again. The excitement of a new chance to do something big is always a huge draw at the year’s beginning. So is the likelihood that it won’t stick. According to a University of Scranton study, only 19% of those resolutions are kept long term.

The current social awakening to systemic disenfranchisement of marginalized populations bears every hallmark of a January 1st new beginning. Outrage and the opportunity for sweeping change is fueling a movement around the world. But I wonder, what will change look like 2 months or even 2 years from now?

The truth is, as much as we want to say we’ll keep pushing for change, life happens. You will have to learn new tech to teach in a blended environment, figure out how to work out without your 5AM spin class, give your personal kids more learning support or find new childcare for a totally new routine.

It will get cold and you won’t want to stand outside at a rally. Christmas will come and you may face balancing taking the kids to see grandma with Covid 2nd wave health and safety concerns.

Life will happen and, unless racism is causing you personal pain or at least personal difficulty, you will re-prioritize. You won’t want to, you may not even mean to but you will—unless you have a plan.

Decide now what your priorities are. Are you a letter writer? Grant writer? Check writer? Are you a relationship builder, library collection builder, a content connection builder? Do you see yourself making a difference with one? With a few? With many? In your family? In your classroom? In politics and policy?

Where and how can you keep pushing change forward when life hits? Whatever you can see yourself doing, make a plan now to do it when it’s cold, uncomfortable, busy and 100th on a list of 150 things you need to have done yesterday. Put your supports in place and make a plan to do it even when your best laid plan has gone wrong or made you the object of constant “oh-here-she-comes” eye-rolls.

Make a plan because when the protests stop, the real work will just be starting. Small Bites can be your go to. But even if it’s not, find one thing you can do even in the busiest of times because we can’t afford to lose one voice. We can’t afford to lose your voice.

You can get tired, you can get it wrong but you can’t give up.

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Times They Are A-Changin’

Replay of tonight’s live edition of #SmallBites!

Small Bites Friday Five 06-12-20:

20-30m – Watch ABC’s Blackish or Mixed-ish for light fare through a social justice lens.

15-20m – Find the local city council and school board websites and inform yourself.

10-15m – Visit Tolerance.org’s magazine section and read one article.

5-10m– Check your voting status at whenweallvote.org and encourage one friend to do the same.

A Whole Zero Minutes– Don’t judge anyone else’s helping unless it’s doing harm.

– #SmallBites

With the launch of #SmallBites, I have set out to help those who want to create more equitable classrooms and communities. Many, in shock and outrage, are eagerly consuming resources and investing time and energy to learn about and stand against systemic inequities that have long plagued our society. I feel in that energy a world-wide awakening, even as some alte-Garde political and cultural regimes dig their heels in.

We decide if this will be a trend or a moment, if that “one day when the Glory comes” will be sooner rather than later. You can begin with strategies mentioned in #SmallBites. The weekly Friday Five will allow you to keep up the anti-racism marathon by allowing you to pace yourself and not get so overwhelmed that you give up. As you hit your stride, you can create some space to go deeper.

Unfortunately, every problem can’t be tackled only with strategies that take less than 30 minutes. Going to a protest takes a day, reading a book, a few days. Making lasting change for marginalized populations across the globe, a lifetime and more.

To that end, I have had inspiring conversations with white colleagues this week, in particular with Barbara Bray, author of Define Your Why. Those conversations have produced this work in progress that uses Helm’s framework of racial identity to help people identify where they are on the journey to becoming more culturally responsive.

If you find yourself wanting a heaping round of seconds after consuming #SmallBites, open the document, set a spell and sift through the links, book titles and social action sites. Cut on some Brad Paisley with LL (hey, I liked the song!) or Freedom Sounds while you do. Take what you need, leave the rest. This ain’t a clean your plate kind of party. Social responsibility is both necessary and personal.

For now, go fast–because it’s been too long in coming to go slow–but keep a sustainable pace, because we can’t afford to lose even one voice.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, so pop in to YouTube next week for a serving of #SmallBites and follow me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Times They Are A-Changin’ Read More »

More Than Words

How I came to create #SmallBites

If there ever was a modern martyr, George Floyd is one. His daughter’s declaration of “Daddy changed the world” was manifested in protests from Amsterdam to Zimbabwe. His death has begun policing policy reform change in Washington and in cities throughout the country and the world is saying his name as they search for ways to bring about change.

People all over the world are not only waking up to the sometimes brutal realities that BIPOCs face, but they are understanding that, like being born pretty, sometimes life comes with unearned privilege that is wielded, unwittingly causing harm.

If you are someone who wants to teach better, include better, be better, join me for Friday night’s 8PM central live launch of #SmallBites. Each week you’ll get a Friday 5 with 5 actionable steps you can use to help create a more level playing field for those of us who all too often never even get inside the ballpark. Want to ask a question? You can do that too.

Fighting racism is a full time job, and most of us already have full time jobs. You can’t do everything, but you can do just one thing. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

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Eat the Elephant

For this week’s post, I’d like to invite you to read my latest article, “A Guide to Equity and Antiracism for Educators”, published by Edutopia. It’s all about actionable steps that you can take now.

I would also like to invite you to Small Bites, my YouTube channel soft re-launch, next Friday. If you’re familiar with the UN’s Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World, the concept is similar. Look for news on Twitter and Instagram.

We can’t eat an elephant all at once, but we can move forward if we commit to actionable steps that move us forward one bite at a time.

Eat the Elephant Read More »

What Cha’ Gonna Do…

Last night, as I scrolled and double-tapped my way through post after post of black squares for #BlackoutTuesday, after my friends across the globe assured me that they stand with the us in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and halting mixes of the above, I felt hope. I felt the hope of 2008. I felt the hope of MLK and Johnson. I felt the hope of our collective ancestors crossing the Mason-Dixon line. Even as I read of fires, and of the reprehensible hate-stoking by our nations fearmongers, I felt hope.

The overwhelming support of my less melanated sisters and brothers enveloped me in a warmth and kindled the hope that this time, we just might take a step forward in our fight against prejudice, racism and the inequities that have been plaguing our country since European settlers arrived here and created an Indian problem.

I’ve talked to friends and I’m not the only one who felt that hope. It felt significant. Hope can kindle change bigger than any riot fire IF the outrage of every individual is translated into action. Yes, fighting for social justice is a big ticket challenge. But like eating an elephant, if you do it one small bite at a time, it’ll get done, just start. Here are 5 things you can do today to advance the cause of equity and social justice.

If You Have at least 5 minutes:

If You Have at least 15 minutes:

If You Have At Least 30 minutes:

  • Watch an episode of Blackish. It’s light fare, but the lessons and issues tackled are not.

Conquering, enslaving and oppressing other humans is not a new concept, it is, unfortunately, the concept that has fueled competing powers since the beginning of time. Keeping that in mind, fighting for social justice is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. If you are just joining this fight, don’t get so overwhelmed now that you lose steam. Take small bites. That doesn’t mean don’t act with urgency, we need revolutionary change now. I’m just reminding you to take action at a sustainable pace. Set a measurable, attainable goal for today, for this week, for this year.

You have no idea how moved I have been at the great outpouring of solidarity. Now the question is, how will you translate that into action. What cha’ gonna do?

What Cha’ Gonna Do… Read More »