Hedreich Nichols

SmallBites Lagniappe: SohCahToa and THAT Teacher

Oh so NOW you’re mad? You want to try, judge and jail a teacher for being ‘racist’? You want to say with surety she did all that stuff we saw in the video with malicious intent? 

Was it bad? Yes. Was it an offensive and insensitive display mocking the sacred traditions of a community this country has already taken from over and over again? Yes. But before we go casting stones:

Could we have made the same mistake?

Have you ever watched a Western?

Did you watch Pocahontas without having conversations about the real daughter of chief Wahunsenacawh? 

Have you ever celebrated Columbus Day or Thanksgiving without telling your children and students the truth about the Taino and Powhatan?

On the flip side, have you ever organized or even participated in a protest against legislation that restricts multiperspectivity in classrooms?

Have you voted in every local election and researched stances of the candidates who sit on your school boards?

Are you willing to teach truth even if it means losing your job?

Between ignorance and appropriation

The teacher in California made a really bad mistake, one I wish she’d had the education not to make. But: let he who never celebrated Halloween with a “hula girl”, an “Indian”, a “hobo”, or a “gypsy” cast the first stone (fyi, all inappropriate terms and costumes). As an applied researcher, I spend countless hours learning things I should have learned in 18 years of schooling. Unfortunately, like this teacher, the education I got did not arm me with the cultural capital and historical truths to be knowledgeable and empathetic towards diverse populations.

It’s easy to feel self-righteous because you know how wrong and hurtful this is; but it’s much harder to do the work to ensure that everyone in this country understands that this is wrong and hurtful. 

Now’s the time to do the hard work and leave the stone casting to those pretending to care.

What you can do

Find out about your local politics here.

Find out how to contact your elected officials here.

Find an organization and get involved here.