topics for change: racial justice in america


10 years and up

  • History
  • Politics
  • White Supremacy
  • Racism
  • Privilege
  • Social-Emotional Learning

Hedreich Nichols, Kelisa Wing, & Leigh Ann Erickson

Summary: For #sweetsandsocialjustice this week, I’m bringing you a new release that every classroom needs to have. I’m also bringing you a strawberry lime tea cake recipe!

This book adeptly outlines tricky topics for 10-14 year olds such as white privilege, systemic racism, and the need for anti-racism. It’s not a storybook, there is no narrative piece, or independent protagonist to the story. Instead, the book speaks to the reader, imploring them to take control of the world around them and work towards living an anti-racist lifestyle.

This book takes historical information, explains it, and applies it to current movements and the political climate. Since this is a new release, it discusses the uprisings of June 2020 in a way that is easily understood and digested by middle grade-level readers.

The creators of this book are seasoned educators and activists, the way they handle the information shows great skill and facilitation of nuanced topics. The difference between being not racist and anti-racist, for instance, can be really confusing for kids. The book also empowers white students to take active and proactive steps to be more anti-racist in daily life. I am cautiously optimistic that real change is happening, particularly in the publishing industry. These are books that need to be produced and widely marketed on a regular basis and distributed to classrooms as quickly as possible.

This book was kindly sent by Sleeping Bear Press, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be able to review it. All opinions and decision to review is my own!

Strawberry Lime Tea Cakes:


  • 2.5c flour
  • 2t baking powder
  • .5t baking soda
  • .5c milk
  • 3T lime juice
  • Zest of 2 limes
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3c dark brown sugar
  • 1 stick cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1c frozen chopped strawberries


Measure out flour, salt, bp and bs, sugar, and zest into a bowl and whisk until thoroughly mixed. Cut in cold butter chunks until texture is coarse meal. Add in milk, lime juice, egg, and strawberries and mix until a relatively cohesive dough.  Scoop or hand form tea cakes and place on a sheet pan. I usually make about 8 tea cakes, but you can make 16 if you’re so inclined. I don’t egg wash because I glaze these, but you can if you like! Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, and then drop the temperature down to 375 for another 10-15 until fully baked.  If you’re making the tea cakes smaller, they will take much less time. I like my tea cakes with a crunchy crust, and err on the slightly more golden side when baking. 

to glaze:

I put powdered sugar in a bowl and add lime juice bit by bit until it’s thick but pourable. Spoon over the mostly cooled tea cakes. 

Hedreich Nichols

Hedreich Nichols is a curriculum designer and Middle Years Program district edtech lead from North Texas. She is also an author and equity consultant helping teachers and schools amplify the voices of all students. With her Cherry Lake Publishing equity series books, What is Antiracism and What is the Black Lives Matter Movement, as well as her upcoming Solution Tree title for teachers, Hedreich uses her knowledge and experiences to ensure that teachers have the skills and knowledge they need to create more equitable classrooms.

Hedreich also hosts a YouTube series and podcastSmallBites, with the same focus. Between SmallBites and her work as a speaker and writer for teacher prep programs; educational publications and podcasts like Edutopia and Cult of Pedagogy; and in conferences like VASCD, MassCUE and AEILOC; Hedreich uses her voice to educate and create change around issues of access and equity in education. Connect with her on TwitterInstagram, Linkedin or Facebook to learn more.

Prior to becoming and edtech teacher, she was a music educator and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter. Hedreich received her Master of Education at Texas A&M University.

Leigh Ann Erickson

Leigh Ann Erickson is a high school teacher at Mount Vernon Community Schools, Iowa. She has designed and built a curriculum for teaching cross-cultural understanding and acceptance to high school students.

After teaching in NYC and Chicago public schools, Erickson learned firsthand the unjust challenges and barriers students of color face in school. In Mt. Vernon, she works to teach her predominantly White students to use their privilege to advocate for others.

Erickson has partnered with many others to develop and teach social justice and African American literature curriculum in Mt. Vernon. She is the founder of Undone Consulting and the Connect, Absorb, Respond and Empower (CARE) conference that brings authentic and relationship-building conversations about race and bias into high schools.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish from the University of Delaware and a master’s degree in teaching from Pace University in New York City. Erickson was recently awarded the Her Woman of Achievement Award by the eastern Iowa Gazette, was a 2019 finalist for Iowa Teacher of the Year and delivered a keynote titled “What Should We Teach White Students” at the 2019 NNSTOY Teacher Leadership Conference. Erickson is grateful to play a small part in a conversation about race and equity that has been happening in our country for centuries.

Kelisa Wing

From Kelisa’s website: “I have been in education for 14 years.  My journey into the teaching profession began after I was honorably discharged from the United States Army. I served as a Youth Consultant for the Self-Expression Teen Theater (SETT) under United Way. After moving to Germany with my family, I began substitute teaching, then transitioned to a Special Education paraprofessional, was a school secretary, and eventually, an Administrative Officer. I then taught 8th-grade Language Arts and Reading to military-connected children at Faith Middle School in Fort Benning, Georgia, was an Elementary School Assistant Principal in New York, and am now a Professional Development Specialist in Virginia.”

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