Hedreich Nichols

November 2021

Put a Little Love in Your Heart

Watch on YouTube or listen on Anchor, or wherever podcasts are heard.

This week, I’m asking you to do something each day in December, so, no additional reading or researching. I am, however, posting 5 podcasts with phenomenal educators that you can listen to and learn from.

Learn from this podcast with author Barbara Bray and save accompanying living document as a reference to learn more about creating inclusive classrooms and campuses.

Listen to this conversation between Hedreich and Sheldon Eakins of Leading Equity to learn more about what Critical Race Theory is and isn’t.

In this Cult of Pedagogy podcast, Hedreich and Jennifer Gonzales talk about the ways we try, but sometimes miss, when we are working to create more culturally responsive spaces.

Listen to Elissa Frazier’s Designed to Thrive Podcast in which we talk about grace and how to come together to to create more welcoming campus spaces for all.

Watch this informative book chat with Melody McCallister as we have a genuine conversation about inviting everyone to have a genuine conversation on race.

A few months ago, I talked to my good friend and phenomenal educator, Jorge Valenzuela. I was having an “ouch before it hurts” moment, pre-stressing about criticism that I knew was forthcoming, especially after Finding Your Blind Spots dropped. Well, the book won’t be officially released until next weekend, but the criticisms have come early.

There were only 2, but neither talked about my work, just my ignorance, my ineptness and the fact that a place in hell is reserved for me. Interestingly enough, I had already planned this week’s Smallbites before I read those posts. This post extends a conversation I had with Tom Schimmer. We talked of how disagreements so often become visceral, personal attacks. We are both saddened that being nice seems to have gone out of style.

If You Can’t Say Something Nice…

If we look at codes of conduct and classroom rule anchor charts, being kind is a common theme. But one look at social media tells me we think that obviously only goes for kids. That’s unfortunate. Limited studies, like this one from Pitt’s Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health, link social media use with depression and anxiety in adults. Various studies cite diverse reasons for the link, but I am sure one causal factor is the negative venting that has become so popular.

What do you do when you see someone voice a strong opinion that doesn’t line up with your own? Do you engage? Do you move on? Or maybe do you close the app on your phone and do something more constructive?

More importantly, what do your students and families see you doing? Are you modeling kindness, civility and respect? Or do you shoot the virtual finger, going off on a rant of your own? My one ask is that you reevaluate how you react when you read something triggering.

Let It Go

The best thing about social media is, you can simply walk away. Or you can choose to write something peaceful that deescalates. Sentence stems like “I respect your point of view”, I can see why you feel that way” or even “I’m afraid I don’t agree, but thanks for sharing your viewpoint” can all build bridges–or at least not burn them. And one choice you can always make is to simply keep scrolling. You do not need to answer everything and for at least the next 31 days, I hope you won’t.

No Negativity Challenge

This December let’s make a pact: Use the month to post something positive daily. Pick a platform, send out your post and tag 3 people. Your post could be a quote, the view from your porch, work from your kids at school or even your dog’s pic. Maybe we can retrain our brains not to be so reactionary. Maybe we can help others do the same. Do I think this will fix all that’s broken in the world? Of course not. But I do think we can be more intentional about the words we choose. And I know that intentionality will be good for the young people we teach. Join me?

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500 Years

Watch on YouTube or listen on Anchor, or wherever podcasts are heard.

Thanksgiving was never attached to Plymouth Rock in my house, the women who raised me knew too much truth to celebrate what was the beginning of the end for so many. We cooked, we were thankful. Yesterday, I cooked, I am thankful. I am also in solidarity with those who mourn this month.

Seek Diverse Perspectives about the US Origin Story

This week, I will leave you to find your own truth; about Thanksgiving, about our nation’s origin story. Try to find one new truth or one new voice to amplify. See you next week for the launching of Finding Your Blind Spots-Eight Guiding Principles for Overcoming Implicit Bias!

Here is my most recent article from Edutopia featuring Indigenous narratives and stories, many from Indigenous people. These stories are helpful for teachers and learners seeking historical accuracy.

Below are links to explore and stories to be heard about the over 60 million people who were here long before Europeans came; and this week’s Small Bites features the names of indigenous voices to learn from on social media, plus a groovy Spotify playlist to help you decolonize your drive-time.

Delve into native American culture in many forms at https://www.powwows.com/native-music-radio/

Explore and support cultural endeavors at https://www.firstpeoplesfund.org/

View Native American films and filmmakers telling their stories at https://visionmakermedia.org/native-american-heritage-month/

Enjoy this rabbit hole, a melange of resources from the comedic to the academic, including an Indigenous Peoples Day toolkit for teachers at https://illuminatives.org/indigenouspeoplesday2020/

Support Indigenous Artists

NOTE: Special Thanks to Rhonda Head, the award winning Cree mezzo soprano on this week’s #SmallBites. You can find out more about her on rhondahead.com, @Rhonda_Head on Twitter, or RhondaVHead on Instagram. Her music, including her latest Christmas single, can be purchased on iTunes.

Reposted from November 2020

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Play That Funky Music

Watch on YouTube or listen on Anchor, or wherever podcasts are heard.
SmallBites Friday Five (songs) 11-12-21:

Use this week to learn about microinsults found in songs. Here are five you might use to spark reflection. It should be noted, unless you have older students and a group accustomed to discussing controversial topics, these are not necessarily G rated lyrics or themes. Please review them before using them in any academic setting. The songs are listed in order from least to most school appropriate.

Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones

In The Summertime by Mungo Jerry

Illegal Alien by Genesis

Kung Foo Fighting by Carl Douglas

Mexico by James Taylor

Oohhh That’s My Jam

When I look at the above songs, each of them is attached to a memory from my youth. I think about how innocently I rocked out to each of them. Now, I listen and I think, what would it be like if I rocked out in a class with my students of Mexican and Asian descent? What if I taught my girls about sending “no noodles” and then played In the Summertime. Would they pick up on the subtle threat to girls from poor backgrounds? WOuld they still find me credible if they did?

Am I saying that all these artists are cringeworthy and to be cancelled? No, absolutely not. While some lyrics, for me, cross a line, others are more parody than mean spirited. Still, how would a Mexican student in a mostly White school feel if “Mexico” or “Illegal Alien” were played? Or imagine a lone White student in band having to hear “Play that funky music White boy” as his walk on song when he entered the band hall?

Everyone Does Not Feel the Same

Students may not all be offended and I don’t think burning albums is the solution. However, taking a closer look at what we read, watch and listen to will provide us with opportunities to learn. Are lyrics misogynistic? Are racist stereotypes portrayed through the songs or videos?

Once again, before you throw the records on the fire: I am not advocating that the artists be vilified. I am simply saying that cultural awareness is called for. I have danced to Brown Sugar, and while I cringe now, it simply shows that we can all learn and grow.

As you grow and make different choices, use the graphic below to identify the consequences of little unintended slights.

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Cry Freedom

Watch on YouTube or listen on Anchor, or wherever podcasts are heard.

20-30m – Read this article Business Insider article from Shayanne Gal , Andy Kiersz , Michelle Mark , Ruobing Su , and Marguerite Ward curating 26 charts that explain some of the current issues and consequences that stem from racism. Visit the hyperlinked articles and their hyperlinks to gain understanding for the very real present day problems caused by anti-Black sentiment.

15-20m – Read the above Business Insider article and visit at least 2 of the hyperlinks. Or, continue the journey above.

10-15m – Learn about the catch 22-ish balancing act between Plenary Power and Self Determination in the ongoing fight for Native American rights in the US in this Minority Rights Group International article on Native Americans.

5-10m – If you only have 5-10 minutes, read about Anti-Mexican racism in this History.com article. Be sure to read to the end. You don’t want to miss learning about Sylvia Mendez. Like Ruby Bridges, she too is still alive and can be found on social media platforms.

0-5m – If time is tight, think about one person you know who does not look or identify like you do. Reflect on whether or not their life experiences are more like yours or unlike yours.

Southlake School District and Banned Books

Hearing about the Southlake school district’s plan to ban any diversity issues saddened me. Finding myself on a Texas politician’s banned book list gave me a myriad of other feelings. Both incidents made me realize that, as a country, we are not in line with our forefathers’ vision. If we pledge that our country should be one nation with “liberty and justice for all”, how can we also refuse to shine a light on the things that move us toward that “more perfect union” goal?

If I can’t talk about being born in a Negro hospital or being the first generation of post Jim Crow children in America, does that mean that those things never happened? And if I ignore that part of my history–of OUR history–does that negate the ravaging effects of those inequitable systems?

Silence and Inaction Are Not an Option

Racism is not something we have the luxury of ignoring. Talking about it does not divide us, but refusing to talk about it will continue to be the wall that keeps us from ever reaching our potential as a nation. Just like a husband and wife experience childbirth from very different vantage points, so do diverse peoples in this country have different stories to tell.

In the chapter of Finding Your Blind Spots on Bias and Cultural Expression, I talk about practicing acceptance. How can we practice acceptance if we are unwilling to hear the truths of another?

Stories matter. Acceptance matters. Liberty and justice for each of us matters. Keep doing what you can to respectfully civilly and empathetically shine a light on the truths that impact us all. Because truth–or the lack thereof–impacts us all.

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