Hedreich Nichols

Willow Weep for Me

Small Bites Friday Five 4-9-21 

20-30m – Read this Learning for Justice article with content supports for student conversations. I especially am fond of the ‘silent dialogue’, which can be especially helpful if your class espouses diverse perspectives. Evaluate your own feelings and decide how you can support students who may be experiencing emotional fallout from the trial.

15-20m – Using the above article, plan lessons or choose and practice appropriate responses to questions that might come up in class. “We’re not discussing that” is NOT an appropriate response, so decide now how you will set any personal feelings aside in order to meet student needs, guiding them in respectful, if sometimes emotionally laden, discourse.

10-15m – Examine the statistics on Mapping Police Violence. Sometimes, it’s hard to see that something needs fixing unless we compare it to something that’s working. For example, according to a 2019 Statista report, US police officers kill citizens 3-4 times more often than in comparable democratic countries like Canada and Australia. Here are the numbers from other countries.

5-10m – Consider ordering a copy of my Cherry Lake trade book for middles,What is the Black Lives Matter Movement, to read contextual information on how there came to be a need for such a movement and how the Black community grieves at times like these.  

0-5m – Listen to SmallBites Lagniappe: Talking to Students about the Derek Chauvin Trial on Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.

At times like these; when yet another trial of yet another police officer is happening because of yet another violent death of yet another Black person: there is sadness.

Maybe you have a loved one on the force and you know the fear of getting that midnight call every loved one fears. I can see that, get my head wrapped around it. I share a similar fear; the fear of my 16 year-old son being pulled over because he looks like a Black man, 5′ 8, a ‘suspect’. I have a fear of him not coming home. Ever. I fear that same midnight call.

Can you also see my side, understand my fear? Can you fathom my part in this communal grief, this loss that reminds me that George Floyd could have been my son? If you can’t, your students are in danger. They are in danger of experiencing your silence or even worse, your silent scorn. If you teach anywhere, especially if you teach anywhere where the communities you serve experience violence rooted in bias and discrimination, you can’t be silent.

Whatever you believe at home, you have to believe that in acknowledging the collective grief that your students and coworkers may be feeling, you serve your campus better. If all lives really matter then that means the Black ones too. That’s what Black Lives Matter means, it means Black lives matter, too. It means don’t forget us, we are much too often harmed and killed while people look the other way.

Showing up with a ‘Teachers for Black Lives Matter” t-shirt is not the Goal Line. There is no race to be the most vocal activist on your campus. Your support can be loud and visible or quiet but unmistakable. Just don’t look the other way.

Say, “I’ve been watching the trial. I am so sad this happened to George Floyd and that his family has to go on without him.”

Say, “there are too many of these trials, I hope we can be better as a country.”

Say, “you matter to me, I hope you know that.”