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Abstract

Despite decades of equity- and inclusion-oriented discourse and reform in mathematics education, Black learners in the U.S. continue to experience dehumanizing and violent forms of mathematics education. I suggest that equity for Black learners in mathematics education is a delusion rooted in the fictions of white imaginaries, contingent on appeasing white logics and sensitivities, and characterized at best by incremental changes that do little to threaten the maintenance of racial hierarchies inside or outside of mathematics education. Moreover, the forms of inclusion offered up in equity-oriented discourses and reforms represent contexts of containment and enclosure that keep Black people in their same relative position. Refusal is suggested as a strategy for Black learners to resist the anti-Black character of mathematics education, and as a first step in actualizing forms of mathematics education that are worthy of Black learners.
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Race Ethnicity and Education
ISSN: 1361-3324 (Print) 1470-109X (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cree20
Equity, inclusion, and antiblackness in
mathematics education
Danny Bernard Martin
To cite this article: Danny Bernard Martin (2019) Equity, inclusion, and antiblackness
in mathematics education, Race Ethnicity and Education, 22:4, 459-478, DOI:
10.1080/13613324.2019.1592833
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/13613324.2019.1592833
Published online: 29 Apr 2019.
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Equity, inclusion, and antiblackness in mathematics
education
Danny Bernard Martin
Department of Curriculum and Instruction and Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer
Science, University of Illinois, Chicago, USA
ABSTRACT
Despite decades of equity- and inclusion-oriented discourse and
reform in mathematics education, Black learners in the U.S. continue
to experience dehumanizing and violent forms of mathematics educa-
tion. I suggest that equity for Black learners in mathematics education
is a delusion rooted in the ctions of white imaginaries, contingent on
appeasing white logics and sensitivities, and characterized at best by
incremental changes that do little to threaten the maintenance of
racial hierarchies inside or outside of mathematics education.
Moreover,theformsofinclusionoered up in equity-oriented dis-
courses and reforms represent contexts of containment and enclosure
that keep Black people in their same relative position. Refusal is
suggested as a strategy for Black learners to resist the anti-Black
character of mathematics education, and as a rst step in actualizing
forms of mathematics education that are worthy of Black learners.
ARTICLE HISTORY
Received 31 July 2017
Accepted 18 February 2019
KEYWORDS
Equity; antiblackness;
reform; mathematics
education
Introduction
Why does white America delude itself, and how does it rationalize the evil it retains? The
majority of white Americans consider themselves sincerely committed to justice for the
Negro. They believe that American society is essentially hospitable to fair play and to
steady growth toward a middle-class Utopia embodying racial harmony. But unfortunately
this is a fantasy of self-deception and comfortable vanity. (King, Jr 1967,45)
The focus on equality and inclusion has largely obscured the complexity of empire and the
role that citizenship has played in defusing theoretical interventions dedicated to the
demystication of Americas democratic pedagogies. (Curry 2015, 29).
Mathematics has long occupied a valorized and privileged position in the United States
school curriculum (Berry, Ellis, and Hughes 2014; Klein 2003; Schoenfeld 2004; Stanic
and Kilpatrick 2003; Tate and Rousseau 2002). Knowledge of mathematics is frequently
used as a proxy for intelligence, and access to high-level mathematics coursework
continues to be proered as a gateway to academic and economic opportunity linked
especially to scientic and technological progress (U.S. Department of Education 2008).
Because of its privileged status, school mathematics has historically been a site of political
contestation among mathematicians, mathematics educators, and the general public
CONTACT Danny Bernard Martin dbmartin@uic.edu
RACE ETHNICITY AND EDUCATION
2019, VOL. 22, NO. 4, 459478
https://doi.org/10.1080/13613324.2019.1592833
© 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
regarding its content, preferred pedagogical approaches, methods of assessment, and,
more recently, issues of equity and inclusion. These last considerations reects the fact
that, through its gatekeeper and gateway functions, mathematics education plays a key
role in reproducing or disrupting race, class, and gender inequities and hierarchies in
school and societal contexts (Gutierrez 2013; Tate 1997). The primary beneciaries of
mathematical opportunities have often been white, male, and wealthy students, although
some Asian and Asian American students have been allowed to participate in service to
various political and racial projects (Chen and Buell 2018). In contrast, Black, Latinx,
Indigenous, women, and poor students, have experienced long histories of underrepre-
sentation in mathematics and mathematics-related domains (Joseph, Hailu, and Boston
2017; Larnell, 2016; Martin, Anderson, and Shah, 2017; Shah 2017; Zavala 2014).
Partly in response to issues of access and exclusion, but also in response to real and
manufactured crises (e.g. declining achievement of U.S. students in relation to other
countries; declining U.S. international economic and scientic competitiveness; threats
to U.S. national security), there have been at least three major moments of mathematics
education reform (Berry, Ellis, and Hughes 2014; Klein 2003; Schoenfeld 2004; Stinson
and Bullock 2012): the new math reforms of the mid-1950s; the standards-based
movement stretching from the late 1980s and through the early 2000s; and the
Common Core State Standards movement dating from the late 2000s. In their own
ways, each of these reforms was anchored in discourses about inclusion. The new math
reforms targeted primarily white males and were never intended for any of the groups
noted above, especially Black learners against the backdrop of racism, white supremacy,
and legalized segregation (Berry, Ellis, and Hughes 2014). In subsequent reforms, under
the slogan system of Mathematics for All, outcomes for Black learners and other
marginalized groups have received increased attention in research and policy contexts
focused on equity and inclusion. Yet, despite the strategic use of equity- and inclusion-
oriented rhetoric within standards-based reforms, and the rising-tide-lifts-all-boats
assumptions of the Common Core, the implied promises of equity and inclusion for
Black learners, in particular, have not come to fruition. Many Black learners continue to
experience violent and dehumanizing forms mathematics educations that relegate them
to the lowest rungs of a taken-for-granted racial hierarchy within the domain (Martin,
Price, and Moore in press; Martin 2009a).
While many previous eorts focused on Black learners and mathematics education
have attended to remedying problematic achievement and persistence issues in service
to equity and inclusion, the ideas of equity and inclusion in have, for the most part,
escaped critical analysis (Berry, Ellis, and Hughes 2014; Bullock, 2017; Gutierrez 2002;
Martin 2003,2015; Parks 2009; Tate and Rousseau 2002). Here, I suggest that equity for
Black learners in mathematics education is a delusion rooted in the ctions of white
imaginaries, contingent on appeasing white logics and sensitivities, and characterized at
best by incremental changes that do little to threaten the maintenance of racial hierar-
chies inside or outside of mathematics education. Equity work in mainstream mathe-
matics education often represents little more than a convenient and comfortable
waypoint so that the path of racial justice does not have to be traversed. Moreover,
the forms of inclusion oered up in equity-oriented discourses and reforms have
typically involved two trajectories: (1) inclusion accompanied by marginalization; and
(2) assimilation into the existing cultures of mathematics education, thereby sustaining
460 D. B. MARTIN
the fundamental character of the domain. Both forms of inclusion represent types of
enclosure and containment (Sojoyner 2017) that keep Black learners, collectively, in
their same relative position. Similar claims have been made outside of mathematics
education, as exemplied by the quotes that open this chapter.
In order to clarify and substantiate these claims in mathematics education, I engage
in a race-critical analyses of mathematics education by addressing several related
questions. First, into what have we been asking Black learners to integrate? That is,
what is the fundamental character of mathematics education that has contributed to
Black learners being less than full participants and experiencing violence and dehuma-
nization when they do participate? Second, why have equity- and inclusion-oriented
discourses in mainstream
1
mathematics education reform managed to sustain them-
selves despite the failure of multiple reforms to radically respond to Black oppression
and dehumanization? I discuss why these discourses have remained so appealing to
both Black and white subjects. Third, if reforms have not been able to self-correct in the
direction of Black liberation, why do they necessarily self-correct in ways that con-
tribute to Black oppression and dehumanization? Mathematics education as a eld may
need to grapple with the very real possibility that mainstream equity- and inclusion-
oriented reforms may function and self-correct in ways that maintain the status quo of
dehumanization and violence against Black children. Fourth, as a response to status-
quo-preserving nature of mathematics education reforms, and as a challenge to liberal
calls for equity and inclusion, what can and should refusal of dehumanizing and violent
mathematics education look like in principle and practice? Envisioning and actualizing
refusal requires one to invoke Black radical imagination (Kelley 2002) and engage in
Black liberatory fantasy (Dumas and ross 2016) about the form and structure of such
refusal and how it facilitates Black people ourishing in their humanity.
Below, I briey characterizethe racial context of mathematics education as a precursor to
introducing antiblackness (Dumas 2016; Dumas and ross 2016) into mathematics educa-
tion as a dening characteristic of the domain. Next, I discuss the self-correcting, adaptive
natures of the racial state and of mathematics education reforms that serve state interests.
I follow this with a critical analysis of equity and inclusion in relationship to citizenship and
desegregation. I end by discussing the seeds of refusal as a rst step in imagining forms of
mathematics education that are worthy of Black learners, moving beyond appeals to white
imaginaries and sensitivities (also see Martin, Price, and Moore, in press).
Racial context of mathematics education
Prior analyses have surfaced two interconnected themes related to the racial context of mathe-
matics education in the United States. First, at the interpersonal and intrapersonal levels,
mathematics learning and participation can be characterized as racialized forms of experience;
that is, as experiences in which socially and personally constructed meanings for race emerge as
salient in interactional experiences related to mathematics. A growing body of research has
shown this to be true for all students, not just Black students, and at all levels of mathematics
learning and participation (see Martin, Anderson, and Shah 2017 for a recent review).
Second, at the structural level, the U.S. mathematics education enterprise is a white
institutional space, not unlike other racialized systems and contexts in society where the
prevailing meanings and ideologies for race emerge as highly salient in shaping norms,
RACE ETHNICITY AND EDUCATION 461
practices, policies, and relations of power (e.g. Anderson 1970; Battey and Leyva 2016;
Berry, Ellis, and Hughes 2014; Chen and Buell 2018; Groves Price and Moore 2016;
Gutierrez 2017; Martin 2008,2009a,2015; Martin, Anderson, and Shah, 2018; McGee
and Martin, 2011; Nasir and Shah, 2011; Shah 2017,2017; Stinson 2017; Wolfmeyer
2017). As a white institutional space, the aims and practices of mathematics education
have been shaped not only by white logics and white imaginaries from within but also
by the larger racial state (Martin 2011,2013). Because the racial state is fundamentally
an anti-Black system that successfully adapts to and mitigates perturbations in the
direction of Black liberation (Alexander 2010; Allen 1974; Dumas and ross 2016; Elias
and Feagin 2016), mainstream mathematics education often takes on that same char-
acter. In the current political moment, one can view the election of Donald Trump as
a historical and white supremacist correction to the presence of a Black man in the
White House. Historically, the second Brown v Board of Education ruling, with its
emphasis on with all deliberate speed,became a corrective to the rst ruling, enabling
public schools in the south to delay desegregation by more than a decade. Further, Jim
Crow racism was a corrective response to Reconstruction. Mass incarceration is the
corrective to Jim Crow (Alexander 2010). This tendency of the racial state and its
institutions to self-correct is important when considering equity and inclusion in
mathematics education. Each new wave of mathematics education reform is a self-
correction to previous reforms, and each of these reforms has served the racial state in
ways that help to maintain mathematics education as an anti-Black space.
Antiblackness in mathematics education
According to Dumas and ross (2016), antiblackness is not simply racism against Black
people. Rather, antiblackness refers to a broader antagonistic relationship between black-
ness and (the possibility of) humanity(429). It is also an interlocking paradigm of
institutions, attitudes, practices and behaviors that work to dehumanize and oppress
Black people in order to benet non-Black people, and specically, to benet and maintain
white supremacy(Black Liberation Collective, 2017). Further within antiblackness,
The Black cannot be human, is not simply an Other but is other than human. Thus,
antiblackness does not signify a mere racial conict that might be resolved through
organized political struggle and appeals to the state and to the citizenry for redress.
Instead, antiblackness marks an irreconcilability between the Black and any sense of social
or cultural regard. The aim of theorizing antiblackness is not to oer solutions to racial
inequality, but to come to a deeper understanding of the Black condition within a context
of utter contempt for, and acceptance of violence against the Black. (Dumas 2016, 13)
The importance of considering antiblackness in mathematics education is that its
enormity and ubiquity are what allows it to absorb the incrementalism of equity- and
inclusion-oriented reforms; small changes in the individual and collective social stand-
ing of Blacks are celebrated and used as evidence of the benevolence of institutions
within the prevailing system. Yet, small upticks in achievement, representation, and
participation still represent ceilings on the bottom rungs of the social and mathematical
hierarchy. More generally, history also shows that when societal reforms move toward
the radical realm of Black liberation, the dominant systems typically absorb, tolerate,
462 D. B. MARTIN
and adapt to these reforms or they invoke the necessary violence to force compromises
away from Black liberation (Anderson 2003; Shawki 2006; Taylor 2016). Interestingly,
one would be hard pressed to identify any equity-oriented reform in mathematics
education that could be characterized as liberatory for Black learners.
Antiblackness is readily evidenced in mathematics education via several forms of
systemic violence
2
epistemological, intellectual, and symbolicthat inict injury and
trauma on Black people (Martin, Price, and Moore in press). Teo (2010), for example,
has characterized epistemological violence in the production of knowledge as occurring
when theoretical interpretations regarding empirical results implicitly or explicitly
construct the Other as inferior or problematic, despite the fact that alternative inter-
pretations, equally viable based on the data, are available(298). Until recently, the
study of and reference to Black children in mainstream mathematics education research
and policy contexts was typically the study of how they dier from white children
(Martin 2009b). The primary modes of engaging them are through diagnosis of decits,
intervention, remediation, and repair rather than taken-for-granted assumptions about
their brilliance (Gholson, Bullock, and Alexander 2012; Leonard and Martin 2013;
Martin, 2012). Of particular note is that the brilliance of Black children is naturally
unbelievable(McKittrick 2014, 17) only in the context of antiblackness.
Within mainstream mathematics education, the specicity of the Black (Wynter 1989,
as cited in Dumas and ross 2016) emerges when considering that Black children, unlike
other children, typically come into being only through statistical descriptions of their
so-called mathematical illiteracy (Martin 2009a,2009b). Each statistical report is poten-
tially an act of violence as well as an indicator of the violence that has been inicted on
Black children in mathematics. Equity discourses, which continue to draw on statistical
archives of Black failure, become the conduits for perpetuating antiblackness and
epistemological violence.
3
As noted by McKittrick (2017), these statistical archives
represent a knowledge network that records and normalizes Black subordination.
They erase and foreclose consideration of anything in excess of violence, anti-Black
racism, and subordination(McKittrick 2017) that would arm Black brilliance; this
brilliance being one of multiple and untracked enunciations of Black life.
Mathematical illiteracy is not a naturally occurring trait of Black children but has
become a widely accepted signier for Blackness and a decidedly Black geography
(McKittrick and Woods 2007) subject to, and deserving of, violent description and
intervention. Consider, for example, that within contemporary research contexts,
a number of studies have been conducted to show that poor (Black) children enter
school with only pre-mathematical knowledge, and lack the capacity to mathematize
their experiences, engage in abstraction and elaboration, and use mathematical ideas
and symbols to create models of their everyday lives (e.g. Klein, Starkey, Clements,
Sarama, and Iyer, 2008; see Parks 2009 for additional critique). In such discursive
dehumanization, little inclination is expressed for questioning why these processes
best represent mathematical thinking, or for exploring and documenting the mathe-
matical lives of Black children in naturalistic everyday settings and the ways in which
they do engage in these and other processes. Nor are there attempts to determine how
their mathematical sense-making in these naturalistic settings is supported by their
cultural experiences and whether preferred ways of engaging their mathematical worlds
serve useful functions relative to those experiences (Martin 2009b; Parks 2009). Within
RACE ETHNICITY AND EDUCATION 463
mainstream studies of early mathematics learning, we often see that three, four, and
ve-year-old Black children are subjected to a few hours of treatment and remediation
as a counter to having spent their entire lives around parents, siblings, extended family,
and community members. There are approximately 26,000 hours in the life of a three-
year-old, 35,000 hours in the life of a four-year-old preschooler, and 44,000 hours in the
life of a ve-year-old. Yet, consumers of this research are expected to believe that Black
parents and families cannot accomplish in those times what strangers who often know
little about Black people and Black life can do in anywhere from one to ten hours of
intervention.
Given that few, if any Black parents and caregivers refer to their Black children as
mathematically illiterate (Berry 2008; Martin 2000) one has to wonder where these ideas
originate. I suggest here that mathematical illiteracy is invented in the violence of
knowledge production and in the white frames (Feagin 2013) and imaginaries (Alves
2014) that support mathematics education as a white institutional and anti-Black space.
These frames and imaginaries include a broad and persisting set of racial stereotypes,
prejudices, . . .[and] ideologies(Feagin xi) as well as collections of ctional narratives,
controlling images (Collins 2000), and processes of discursive dehumanization (Alves
2014) that create naturalized relationships between Blackness, inferiority, remediation,
and repair. These white frames and white imaginations of Black childrens intellectual
inferiority also emerge to produce injurious intellectual violence against Black children.
In recent years, for example, beyond their everyday experiences with limited access to
mathematics with high cognitive demand, tracking, and underassessments of their
abilities, Black children in dierent locations across the country have been subjected
to racist curricular examples such as the following:
Los Angeles (2
nd
grade, 2017): The master needed 192 slaves to work on
a plantation in the cotton elds. The elds could ll 75 bags of cotton. Only 96
slaves were able to pick cotton for that day. The missus needed them in the Big
House to prepare for the Annual Picnic. How many more slaves are needed in the
cotton elds? (Judge 2017)
New York (4
th
grade, 2013): In a slave ship, there can be 3,799 slaves. One day, the
slaves took over the ship. 1,897 are dead. How many slaves are alive?and, One
slave got whipped ve times a day. How many times did he get whipped in
a month (31 days)? Another slave got whipped nine times a day. How many
times did he get whipped in a month? How many times did the two slaves get
whipped together in one month? (Williams 2013)
A widely circulated video from 2016 shows a school resource ocer at Spring Valley
High School in Columbia, South Carolina throwing a 16-year-old Black girl, identied
as Shakara, from her desk and across her mathematics classroom after allegedly refusing
to put her cellphone away. Niya Kenny, an 18-year-old female classmate who stood up
in protest during the incident was also arrested. Other Black students in the class were
subjected to psychological and emotional violence as a result of having to witness these
incidents. These episodes of intellectual and physical violence serve to index author-
itarianism and expectations of compliance in the mathematics classroom, Where Black
childrens bodies can represent the ultimate threat to authority [and] the disciplining of
464 D. B. MARTIN
Black children can be understood as the denitive reinforcement of security and order
(Dumas and ross 434).
Beyond the specic incidents cited above, Black children routinely experience other
forms of systemic violence in mathematics education, including being overlooked for
advanced coursework even when they achieve the necessary grades and test scores (e.g.
McGee 2013; McGee and Pearman 2014). Faulkner, Sti, Marshall, Nieteld, and
Crossland (2014) conducted a longitudinal analysis of data from the Early Childhood
Longitudinal Study Kindergarten Class of 19981999 (ECLS-K) data set to analyze the
impact of teacher evaluation of student performance versus student demonstrated
performance on the odds of being placed into algebra in the 8th grade. Their analysis
revealed that:
teacher evaluations of student performance were shown to play a greater role,
albeit adversely, for Black students than for their peers. For Black students, teacher
evaluation was nearly as powerful a predictor as math performance.
when controlling for math performance, teacher evaluation, socioeconomic status,
gender, and IEP status, the odds of placement in algebra by the eighth grade for
Black students were reduced by two-thirds to two-fths compared to their White
peers.
for Black students, high performance does not overcome the impact of a low
Teacher Evaluation rating vis-à-vis eighth-grade mathematics placement.
The authors concluded that Black students confront an untenable impediment in
that their Blackness (or, as we suggest here, the teachersimplicit responses to these
studentsBlackness) serves as an invisible, albeit formidable, obstacle to gaining access
to higher level mathematics courses, irrespective of their demonstrated perfor-
mance(306).
While the examples above highlight how the violence of antiblackness emerges
within mathematics education, it is important to note that mathematics education is
not unique as an anti-Black space. If mathematics education were unique, that would,
perhaps, represent a near-best-case scenario. Other scholars have studied dierent
school contexts, such as educational policy (Dumas 2016; Wun 2014) and school
disciplinary practices (Wun 2016), that are also characterized by antiblackness.
Moreover, while it is true that every student in state-sponsored schools is compelled
to compromise and sign on to the anti-Black, empire-oriented agendas of the state, the
consequences for non-Black people have been dierent. Antiblackness has allowed for
conditional assimilation and integration among many other minoritized groups in the
United States because they are often expected to adopt an anti-Black ideology. Irish,
Italian, and Jewish collectives, for example, have been oered staged exits via invita-
tions to whiteness from their minority status (Brodkin 1998; Ignatiev 1995; Roediger
2005). Other social groups light-skinned Latinx, Japanese Americans, Korean
Americans, Asian Indians, Chinese Americans have gradually been oered honorary
White status, signaling that the exits from oppressed minority status and assimilation
into whiteness can be incomplete and contingent on fortifying antiblackness (Bonilla-
Silva 2004; Tuan 1998).
RACE ETHNICITY AND EDUCATION 465
Racism and reforms as self-correcting and interrelated systems
Why does mathematics education continue to be a site of antiblackness? If reforms have
not been able to self-correct in the direction of justice for Black learners, why do they
necessarily self-correct in ways that sustain Black oppression? Figure 1 oers
a simplied depiction showing that mathematics education can be implicated as
a political project whose reforms have historically been put in service to a number of
other projectswhite nationalism, xenophobia, militarism, racial capitalism (Robinson
1983)that are antithetical to Black liberation and progress (Anderson 1970; Gutstein
2009; Martin 2011,2013).
Column one of Figure 1 begins with the New Math reforms of the 1950s and 1960s
and proceeds through the standards-based reforms of the 1980s to the 2000sindexed
by the names of key reform documentsand up to the current reforms of the Common
Core State Standards. A number of previous analyses have documented how each
successive reform is a self-correction to the previous one, brought on partly by the
crisis discourse about American education, more generally, and philosophical and
ideological debates about mathematics education, in particular (Klein 2003;
Schoenfeld 2004; Washington et al. 2012).
Each successive reform is also characterized by its inheriting the largely unchanging
relative status of Black learners (Berry, Ellis, and Hughes 2014) despite optimistic and
equity-oriented rhetoric. In expressing hope for the standards-based reform era, but
acknowledging past failures, Tate (1997) noted, The importance of the mathematics
standards movement for traditionally underserved students is obvious: previous
Figure 1. Reforms and Racial-Political Projects
466 D. B. MARTIN
reforms eorts have not met their needs(676). In essence, column one depicts the
historical path of mathematics education betraying its purported commitments to
equity and inclusion for Black learners.
Column three of Figure 1 traces the evolution of various racial projects at the societal
level, parallel to various math reforms in column one. Racial theorists (Bonilla-Silva
2001; Elias and Feagin 2016; Omi and Winant 1994) have detailed how racism reinvents
itself and self-corrects in each sociopolitical era and how each era of racism develops,
often through policy and law (López 1996), various societal mechanisms to maintain
white supremacy and black dehumanization. Alexander (2010), for example, has
described how mass incarceration in the post-civil rights era of neoliberal racism and
colorblindness represents the new Jim Crow. Such adaptations have led some scholars
to adopt a racial realist perspective (Bell 1992), positing the permanence of anti-Black
racism and white supremacy. Driver (2011), citing legal scholar and critical race theorist
Derrick Bell, characterized the latters position on racial equality and progress by stating
that Racial equality for blacks will remain a permanently elusive goal because the racist
structure will absorb and adapt to any challenge(163). In his own words, Bell (1992)
declared:
Black people will never gain full equality in this country. Even those herculean eorts we
hail as successful will produce no more than temporary peaks of progress,short-lived
victories that slide into irrelevance as racial patterns adapt in ways that maintain white
dominance. (373)
Nationalist, militaristic, and xenophobic appropriations of mathematics
education
Below, I oer necessarily incomplete characterizations of relationships between col-
umns one and three (also see Martin 2011,2013 for extended characterizations). The
brief analysis contributes to an assessment that U.S. empire-building, often facilitated
through the use of mathematics education, is fundamentally anti-Black even while it
attempts to enlist Black participation via equity- and inclusion-oriented discourse.
Consider, for example, that Sputnik-era math reforms (the New Math) were a direct
outgrowth of heightened U.S. nationalism, and unfolded, ironically, in the context of
Jim Crow racism and legalized segregation. The math reforms of the day, in seeking to
enlist the best and the brightest, precluded Black Americans (and other oppressed
groups), and the architects of these reforms invoked no anti-racist resistance. While
Blacks experienced racism, white supremacy, and dehumanization in society, a number
of social policies and programs (e.g. Trumans Fair Deal, Roosevelts New Deal, GI Bill)
were put in place before, during, and after the New Math reforms to ensure that white
males, in particular, could become full participants in science, technology, engineering,
and mathematics. Mathematics education reform, via the new math, moved in same the
direction as the racial state in maintaining Black oppression. For example, while the
1954 case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka invoked the rhetoric of desegrega-
tion, white resistance continued to serve as a major obstacle to Black inclusion. In
September of 1957, a mere one month before Sputnik, Arkansas Governor George
Wallace deployed National Guard troops to prevent nine Black children from integrat-
ing Little Rocks Central High School. The tacit calls for increased white male
RACE ETHNICITY AND EDUCATION 467
participation and the explicit refusal to educate Black learners clearly evidenced that If
the nation had minimal will to integrate Black children into their schools and other
public institutions. . . it was certainly no more willing to integrate their needs into the
[mathematics education] reforms of the day(Martin 2013, 325326).
In the post-911 era, mathematics education reform continues to be positioned to
serve nationalist and xenophobic political agendas. On 16 April 2006 former republican
president George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13398 calling for the convening of
the National Mathematics Advisory Panel under the following policy directive:
To help keep America competitive, support American talent and creativity, encourage
innovation throughout the American economy, and help State, local, territorial, and tribal
governments give the Nations children and youth the education they need to succeed, it
shall be the policy of the United States to foster greater knowledge of and improved
performance in mathematics among American students.
In prefacing the Panels recommendations for the future direction of U.S mathematics
education, the nal report (U.S. Department of Education 2008) included the following
statement:
Much of the commentary on mathematics and science in the United States focuses on
national economic competitiveness and the economic well-being of citizens and enter-
prises. There is reason enough for concern about these matters, but it is yet more
fundamental to recognize that the safety of the nation and the quality of life not just
the prosperity of the nation are at issue. (xi, italics added)
The invocation of safety indexes the ramping up of anti-terrorism and national security
activities following the events of 11 September 2001. In October 2001, the
U.S. commenced military operations in Afghanistan and launched the Global War on
Terrorism. On October 26, President Bush signed into the law the Uniting and
Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and
Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, also known as the USA PATRIOT ACT. In 2003,
the United States invaded Iraq. These and other actions facilitated and encouraged
xenophobia against Muslims and Arabs, who became increasingly subject to surveil-
lance and suspicion.
In 2012, Condoleeza Rice, who served as Secretary of State under George W. Bush,
co-chaired a Council on Foreign Relations task force that authored U.S. Education
Reform and National Security (Klein and Rice 2012). In that report, the task force
clearly linked mathematics education to the military industrial complex:
U.S. schools are also failing to prepare enough scientists, mathematicians, and engineers to
stathe military, intelligence agencies, and other government-run national security oces,
as well as the aerospace and defense industries. Today, less than a third of American
students graduate with a rst university degree in any science or engineering eld. . .. These
[and other] factors make it harder for defense-related employers, both governmental and
private sector, to nd qualied candidates, leaving jobs unlled. The shortage of skilled
human capital both inates personnel costs and strains the militarys ability to develop and
deploy technologies that can deter sophisticated adversaries. (9-10)
Particularly ironic about the intrusion of President Bush and Secretary of State Rice into
mathematics education reform was their link to neo-conservative social policies and
ideologies that represented a continuation of Black oppression. Antiblackness for Bush,
468 D. B. MARTIN
in particular, was epitomized in his yover of the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina,
one of the worst disasters in U.S. history. The storm, which hit land on 29 August 2005,
destroyed large parts of New Orleans and killed nearly 2000 people across the Gulf
Coast. Many New Orleans residents, about two-thirds Black, were forced to relocate to
other states. The storm also resulted in televised displays of Black pain and suering.
Already weeks into a vacation, Bush returned to Washington, DC on August 31, only
ying over New Orleans on the way back. In a nationally televised benet, musician
Kanye West went oscript to declare George Bush doesnt care about Black people.
On citizenship and the desegregation of mathematics
Why have equity- and inclusion-oriented discourses in mainstream mathematics edu-
cation reform managed to sustain themselves despite the failure of multiple reforms to
radically respond to Black oppression and dehumanization? One reason is that equity
and inclusion are oered up to white and Black audiences with similar appeals but
dierent promises and consequences. Column two of Figure 1 shows that after the New
Math era, all modern mathematics education reforms have anchored themselves in the
slogan system of Mathematics for All. This weak euphemism for the desegregation of
mathematics resonates quite well with white liberalism. Mainstream mathematics
education has remained content with metering out slow-growth changes in Black
achievementand representation. The appeal to white benevolence for equity and
inclusion rests on the implied promise of not radically altering the status quo of
white supremacy and antiblackness. Equity reforms in service to Mathematics for All
have typically maintained incrementalist orientations that focus on inclusion into
mathematics education as it is, not a fundamentally new and dierent mathematics
education. Tinkering with and tweaks to pedagogy, curriculum, assessment, standards,
and teacher attitudes and beliefs produce the impression and illusion of equity while
Black liberation remains elusive.
As an example of how equity and inclusion discourses attempt to garner appeal,
consider how the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the worlds
largest organization of mathematics educators, has crafted its equity-oriented messages
over the last 30 years. In 1989, the organization issued the following statement as part of
its Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics [CESSM] (NCTM
1989):
The social injustices of past schooling practices can no longer be tolerated. Current
statistics indicate that those who study advanced mathematics are most often white
males. Women and most minorities study less mathematics and are seriously under-
represented in careers using science and technology. . .. Mathematics has become
a critical lter for employment and full participation in our society. We cannot aord to
have the majority of our population mathematically illiterate: Equity has become an
economic necessity. (4)
At the beginning of this statement, NCTMitself a white institutional space, partly
evidenced by its membership being more than 90 percent whitesignaled its willingness
to engage in intersectional politics, thereby rendering its reforms and equity focus as
potentially standing in opposition to larger racial (and gender) projects. Yet, by the end
RACE ETHNICITY AND EDUCATION 469
of the statement, this engagement with race is tempered and equity and inclusion are
framed in economic (in the system) rather than liberatory (against the system) terms. In
the years since the statement presented above, NCTM continued its equity and
Mathematics for All rhetoric in Principles and Standards for School Mathematics
(NCTM 2000), the corrective document to CESSM. More recently, in an era character-
ized by post-racialism, neoliberal racism, the New Jim Crow, and Black Lives Matter,
NCTM issued one if its latest reform documents, Principles to Actions: Ensuring
Mathematics Success for All (NCTM 2014). They included the following rather lengthy
characterization of its equity and inclusion concerns:
Attending to access and equity also means recognizing that mathematics programs that
have served some students, in eect privileging some students over others, must be
critically examined and enhanced, if needed, to ensure that they meet the needs of all
students. That is, they must serve students who are black, Latino/a, American Indian, or
members other minorities, as well as those who are considered white; students who are
female as well as those who are male; students of poverty as well those of wealth; students
who are English language learners as well as those for whom English is their rst language;
students who have not been successful in school and in mathematics as well as those who
have succeeded; and students whose parents have had limited access to educational
opportunities as well as those whose parents have had ample educational opportunities.
(60; italics added)
Whereas the statement from 1989 was a bit more pointed in naming the privileging of
white males and calling for fuller participation among other groups, the statement
above, reveals a modern-day corrective. The versions of inclusion and equity oered
here, leaving almost no group out of consideration, presents reform in service to the
status quo. It has the hallmark and avor of All Lives Matter reaction to the specicity
of the demand that Black Lives Matter.
What are the appeals oered up to Black learners in mathematics education reform? For
Black learners, the lures of inclusion and increased participation in mathematics have always
been accompanied by implied promises of integration and fuller citizenship. Yet, rarely is
inclusion rhetoric in mathematics education interrogated to ask what kind of citizens that Black
learnersareexpectedtobeorallowedtobewithinthepoliticalprojectofmathematicseducation
orthelargerracialstate(Curry2015). The Scylla of citizenship and expanded civil rights (Moses
and Cobb 2001) via mathematical literacy positions Blacks to be complicit in U.S imperialism,
nationalism, xenophobia, and racial capitalism:
With desegregation, and the promise of equality, that sacred ideal oered to Blacks as
a reward for their loyalty to the American state and its foreign endeavors was a Pyrrhic
victory. On the one hand, Blacks became citizens, but on the other, they became complicit
capitalists duty-bound exploiters of the darker races abroad, but impoverished at home
a condition they hoped the political designation of citizenship would slowly improve,
raising them from laborer to capitalist owner. . .. The danger of citizenship was that it gave
to Blacks a freedom to participate in Americas colonial imperialist drive toward empire.
(Curry 2015, 37)
The Charybdis of non-citizenship, marked by perceived mathematical illiteracy, posi-
tions Blacks as internal threats to national aspirations and progress (see Martin 2009a
for specic examples of this threat framing), further entrenching White supremacy and
470 D. B. MARTIN
antiblackness. By way of example, consider the following statement which was taken
from Everybody Counts (NRC 1989), another inuential reform document:
Over 25 percent of all high school students drop out before graduating. . .. Among Blacks,
Hispanics, and Native Americans, the dropout rate often exceeds 50 percent. The majority
of those who drop out are functionally illiterate and hardly any of them possess enough
mathematical skills to make productive contributions to the American economy. Dropouts
and illiteracy are destroying individual hope and threatening the foundation of this
countrys economy. Disparities that divide one third of our citizens from the rest com-
promise the quality of life for all citizens. (12)
Although Everybody Counts frames so-called mathematical illiteracy among Blacks participa-
tion in mathematics as a matter of national and economic necessity, there is reason to question
such assertions and to curb any inclinations by Blacks to buy into a capitalist orientation toward
mathematics education. Curry (2015), for example, notes that any attempt to reproduce the
prot and power of whites, as if our participation in the systems that birth inequity is in fact the
nality of [Black] struggle for equality, ultimately spells doom(44).
Beyond reform: protesting and refusing anti-black mathematics education
I opened this paper with the claim that equity for Black learners in mathematics
education reform is a delusion rooted in the ctions of white imaginaries and char-
acterized at best by incremental changes that do little to threaten the maintenance of
racial hierarchies and white supremacy inside or outside of mathematics education.
Historical framings of equity and inclusion have been inadequate for Black liberation.
In the remaining comments I provide some thoughts about refusal in and refusal of.
These notions are legacied on the long history of Black struggle (Shawki 2006; Taylor
2016) where individual and collective sacrice and organizing have been employed as
tools in service to Black liberation. Specically, I refer to refusal in and refusal of
mathematics education institutions, practices, and policies that instantiate anti-Black
racism and white supremacist orientations. I am not suggesting that Black learners
avoid pursuing mathematics within the existing system of mathematics education. For
most learners, it is the only system available. Refusal in is a recognition of this fact. I am
suggesting that the pursuit of mathematics knowledge within this system should not be
for the sole purpose of being accepted into anti-Black and white supremacist spaces.
Moreover, care should be taken so as not to valorize mathematics education in ways
that obscure white supremacy and antiblackness from within, and its contributions to
white supremacy and antiblackness outside the domain.
Refusing the violence of anti-black knowledge production and reform
I suggest that those who believe in the humanity of Black people actively resist and
reject mathematics education research that results in epistemological violence and
mathematics reforms that perpetuate antiblackness. These forms of research and reform
should be identied, critiqued, and summarily opposed. Refusal in would also entail
working against the commodication of and tracking in Black suering, especially as
a way to counter appeals to white benevolence and liberal notions of care.
RACE ETHNICITY AND EDUCATION 471
Instead, research in service to acknowledging and valuing Black humanity can start with
the axiom of Black learnersbrilliance (Gholson, Bullock, and Alexander 2012; Leonard and
Martin 2013). This is not a proposition or conjecture to be tested, proved, or applied to so-
called goodBlack children. It is a denitive statement of Black humanity, one that can only
be denied in the context of antiblackness. It is an act of reclaiming the identities of Black
children from anti-Black violence.
Protest and opting out
Black students, parents, and caregivers should exercise their agency through protest and
opting out (Martin, Price, and Moore, in press). Students should feel empowered to refuse
oppressive conditions in their mathematics education. Walk-outs and boycotts, locally and
nationally, should be employed as a way to disrupt anti-Black violence in mathematics
education. Equity and inclusion into anti-Black spaces should not be the goal of these walk-
outs and boycotts. Rather, students should demand humane treatment and forms of mathe-
matics education that help them ght against white supremacy, antiblackness, and
U.S. empire. Black parents and caregivers should protest curricular tracking and under-
assessment of their childrens abilities. When possible, they should actively interrogate lures
of access to advanced coursework and mathematics-related employment if those opportu-
nities are antithetical to Black liberation. Parents and caregivers should seek to develop
community-based
4
mathematics programs that are focused on solving problems confronting
Black people and ghting against white supremacy. Black self-determination should be
aleadingprincipleintheseeorts (Ture and Hamilton 1992). Black people should continue
resisting U.S. empire and the invitation to participate in mathematics education in order to
serve this project. Citing W.E.B DuBois(1934) shift from integrationist politics, Ibrahim
X. Kendi (2016) characterized that shift as Instead of using our energy to break down the walls
of White institutions, why not use our energy to refurbish our own?(339). Commenting,
decades earlier, on mathematics and the struggle for Black liberation, S.E. Anderson (1970)
oered this sobering thought on why Black people should learn mathematics:
It should be stressed that this is necessary not because American capitalisms advanced
forms of technology require this background, but because Black Liberation Struggle against
the American racist-capitalist system requires knowledge of 20
th
century technology. In
other words, to paraphrase Brother Frederick Douglass, we are struggling to learn so that
we can learn to struggle. Moreover, we are building to struggle so that we can struggle to
build a more humanistic, anti-capitalistic society and world. (25, emphasis in original)
Discussion and implications
As alluded to by Anderson above, the freedom to participate in anti-Black, racist-
capitalist mathematics education is not freedom. Rather, a mathematics education that
is ultimately worthy of Black children is one that prioritizes their liberation above all else
(Martin and McGee 2009; Martin, Price, and Moore, in press). Expecting our current
system of mathematics education, which is part of the racial state, to reform itself toward
Black liberation is unrealistic in the face of evidence otherwise. As noted earlier in this
paper, the incremental successes of reform eorts have historically been oered to Black
people as a substitute for liberation (Allen 1974; Anderson 2003; Bell 1992; Kendi 2016).
472 D. B. MARTIN
Principled refusal in the existing system of mathematics education will ultimately
take Black people to the precipice of the refusal of this system. Just as one cannot expect
capitalism be xed, because its self-correcting nature seeks to exploit under any con-
ditions or threats, liberation-seeking Black people will recognize that mainstream
mathematics education cannot be xed to serve Black liberation. The current system
of mathematics education must be replaced by a new system that allows Black people to
ourish in their humanity, free from antiblackness. In thinking about refusal of the
system, the stance taken by former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali in
March 1967 against being drafted into the Vietnam War is an appropriate model for
refusing U.S. empire-oriented projects:
Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop
bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville
are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No, Im not going 10,000 miles
from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the
domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. . .. But I have
said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace
my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are ghting for
their own justice, freedom and equality.. . . If I thought the war was going to bring freedom
and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldnt have to draft me, Id join tomorrow.
I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So Ill go to jail, so what? Weve been
in jail for 400 years. (Marqusee, 1999, 214-215, as cited in Kaufman 2008, 221)
It is my hope that those who are doing work to humanize the mathematical
experiences of Black learners will build on the analysis presented here to begin
constructing the foundation of a Black Liberatory Mathematics Education.
Notes
1. As I do elsewhere (Martin 2009b), I distinguish mainstream mathematics education
research and policy as that which has relied on traditional theories and models of teaching
and learning (e.g. information processing, constructivism, situated cognition) and research
approaches (race-comparative analyses or the minimization of race through its absent
presence) developed primarily by white researchers and policy-makers to normalize the
mathematical behavior of white children. Simultaneous to their use for normalization and
generalization, these theories and models have generated and validated conventional
wisdoms about Black children and mathematics.
2. Epp and Watkinson (1997)d
ened systemic violence as:
Any institutionalized practice or procedure that adversely impacts on disadvantaged
individuals or groups by burdening them psychologically, mentally, culturally, spiri-
tually, economically, or physically. It includes practices and procedures that prevent
students from learning, thus harming them. This may take the form of conventional
practices and policies that foster a climate of violence, or policies and practices that
appear neutral but result in discriminatory eects. (190)
3. This is not an argument against the use of statistics to document real discrepancies that
need to be addressed on behalf of Black learners. It is an argument against statistics in
service to epistemological violence.
4. While the analyses oered here focus on the dominant, mainstream reforms in mathe-
matics education, there have been eorts that lean in the direction of Black liberation,
including the Algebra Project, founded by civil rights pioneer Robert P. Moses, and that
RACE ETHNICITY AND EDUCATION 473
foregound mathematics-as-a-civil-right as one of its core principles. Also notable is the
approach of teaching mathematics for social justice (Gutstein, 2016) that draws on Freirian
principles within the larger critical mathematics movement in mathematics education.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the author.
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478 D. B. MARTIN
... Essentially, focusing on the need for closer attention to children's mathematical thinking is more comfortable than to name and address racist values, practices, and institutions (Bartolomé, 1994). Promoting "colorblind" reforms that are good for "all students," is easier than grappling with the fact that decades of reform for "all students" have persistently failed Black, Latinx, and Indigenous children (Martin, 2003(Martin, , 2019). ...
... We speak as scholars of color whose lived experiences have led us to critical perspectives (Patel, 2016). Many of us have been invited into the CGI community, but we recognize our permanent role as outsiders to the "white institutional space" that is mathematics education (Martin, 2019). We have found solace with one another, creating a community to turn to for support when we recognize violence in the name of mathematics achievement. ...
... CGI's approach to supporting "all students"-like other dominant approaches to equity-has not led to changes that support Black, Latinx, and Indigenous children to flourish in and through mathematics education (Martin, 2019). In this section, we offer strategies we have used to bring sociopolitical perspectives to our use of CGI with teachers. ...
Article
Elementary mathematics teacher education often draws on research-based frameworks that center children as mathematical thinkers, grounding teaching in children’s mathematical strategies and ideas and as a means to attend to equity in mathematics teaching and learning. In this conceptual article, a group of critical mathematics teacher educators of color reflect on the boundaries of Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) as a research-based mathematical instructional framework advancing equity through a sociopolitical perspective of mathematics instruction connected to race, power, and identity. We specifically discuss CGI along the dominant and critical approaches to equity outlined by Gutiérrez’s (2007, 2009) framework. We present strategies used to extend our work with CGI and call for the field to continue critical conversations of examining mathematical instructional frameworks as we center equity and criticality.
... Historically, mathematics education reforms have failed to address the educational needs of Black students (Berry, 2018;Martin, 2019). Reform in the field "can be viewed as sustaining the dehumanization process because these reforms are beholden to the overall antiBlack system in which mathematics is embedded. ...
... 460). Invisibilization of the students and the disregard for their mathematics contributions while solving problems are forms of the epistemic violence against Black children and youth in mathematics classrooms that cannot be understood and addressed without taking into consideration that both mathematics and mathematics education function as white institutional spaces (Martin, 2019). ...
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This paper examines the limits and possibilities of the discourses and practices of inclusion of Black immigrant students in reform mathematics classrooms. Data from a larger qualitative study concerned with the education of mathematics teachers in Chilean marginalized schools is used. Conceptualizations about the dynamics of exclusion and inclusion help us illustrate how reform mathematics teaching entails double gestures of hope (about "us") and fear (about the "others"). The results provide evidence that educational reforms and policies are embedded in a system of reason which historically fabricated Blacks as invisible and inferior, shaping the chances of inclusion of Black children.
... However, decolonial and antiracist perspectives of mathematics education specifically draw from traditions of post/decolonial and/or critical race theory to: (a) understand and surface the co-constitution of racial (and related) difference in the entanglement of mathematics (education) in historical processes; and (b) promote an active process of becoming of mathematics knowledges and knowers (e.g. Martin, 2019;Swanson & Chronaki, 2017). In the Atoyac River project, the focus would be the role of mathematics (education) in historical and contemporary processes that (re)produce hierarchical difference and by which the region has come to be vulnerable and marginalised. ...
... Thus, the storyline that positions majority language and culture as key may intersect with storylines in the Norwegian public debate where equality is perceived as sameness (Eriksen, 2020). By definition, minoritized groups comprise people who differ from some dominant norm, thus storylines that identify minoritized groups in this way connect to storylines of racism and anti-blackness (c.f., Martin, 2019). ...
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Public media both reflects and shapes societal perceptions and attitudes. Teachers and others around students in mathematics classrooms have expectations for the students, projected with what appears in these media. We are most concerned about the expectations placed on students who are identified with minoritized groups—particularly students who are Indigenous or migrated to Norway. We investigate how minoritized group contexts and mathematics education appear together in Norwegian news media texts. Our analysis uses the notion of storylines to describe the expectations about minoritized groups that news media project. We found seven entangled storylines: “the majority language and culture are keys to learning and knowing mathematics,” “mathematics is language- and culture-neutral,” “minoritized groups’ mathematics achievements are linked to culture and gender,” “extraordinary measures are needed to teach students from minoritized groups mathematics,” “students from minoritized groups underachieve,” “students from minoritized groups put in extraordinary effort and time to learn mathematics,” and “minoritized mathematics students are motivated by gratitude.”
... In this essay, we focus on the impact of COVID-19 among Black communities within the metropolitan area of Atlanta, Georgia. We situate mathematics education and curriculum within this atmosphere and critically examine how culturally relevant mathematics might entail mathematizing the experiences/data of Black folks during the pandemic while affording teachers more autonomy to address mathematics standards that exist specifically at the secondary and elementary levels.Danny Martin (2019) has questioned what type of mathematics education is worthy of Black children, and we believe it is one that puts their lives and well-being first. We view Martin's question as directly related to the analysis of how COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Black people. ...
Article
The COVID-19 pandemic brought booming economies, seemingly world-class health care systems, educational infrastructures, and the lives and well-being of nations to a complete standstill. Georgia was one of the few states that released their Shelter-in-Place order early, while reports suggest that Black communities have disproportionally higher rates of deaths and hospitalizations. What mathematics would allow students to critically examine the data shared and other data reported about the COVID-19 pandemic? In this essay, we apply a culturally relevant pedagogical (CRP) lens to examine the mathematics curriculum taught in K-12 schools before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, we consider the shortcomings of the curriculum given the impact of the pandemic on Black communities in Atlanta, Georgia, and the barrage of statistics used to inform their lives. We consider how to look at the mathematics curriculum through a CRP lens and what that means in terms of the scope of standards that are being addressed and the flexibility for teachers to have the autonomy to go beyond the prescribed curriculum. Two concentration areas are addressed, and they highlight how to use a CRP lens for secondary and elementary mathematics relevant to our local context in ways that envision how mathematics curriculum can support Black children moving forward.
... Both in New Zealand and internationally, diverse groups of people including indigenous, migrant, and other minority communities are under-represented in mathematics with an accompanying narrative or "gap story" in relation to achievement within school systems Martin, 2019). Arguably, the privileging of white middle-class ways of knowing and being in the mathematics classrooms has led to these ongoing deficit discourses in mathematics education (Adiredja & Louie, 2020). ...
Article
This article explores and wrestles with the various discourses that arise when considering why it is important to advise students from an assets‐based and holistic approach into science‐related majors and careers. Our hope is to inform how and why it is important to advise students into science‐related careers, specifically, and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, more generally, from an ethical and justice‐oriented approach. We begin with a review of empirical literature that highlights the different approaches to advising and the challenges racially and gender‐minoritized students often face in STEM fields. We then review contemporary research from science education that document the hostilities that racially and gender‐minoritized students experience in undergraduate and graduate science programs. We find the intersection of these two subfields to be productive for elucidating multilevel, context‐dependent strategies, which can redress the inexcusable and alarming underrepresentation and exclusion of racially minoritized peoples in science programs and careers in the United States. We end by contemplating the ethical question of how science programs, careers, and the broader field would need to change, to keep historically minoritized students from experiencing further material and epistemological violence. We argue that, without this reimagination, even the most effective advising models will only ensure that more racially and gender‐minoritized students are sacrificed on the altar of “equality” for the sake of the economic and geopolitical needs of the state.
Conference Paper
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Στο κείμενο αυτό εξετάζω το ζήτημα της περιθωριοποίησης ομάδων παιδιών με συγκεκριμένα χαρακτηριστικά (εμφανή ή μη) και του αποκλεισμού τους από το σχολικό μάθημα των μαθηματικών. Το ζήτημα αυτό, η εξέταση και η αποτελεσματική αντιμετώπισή του αποτελούν ιδιαίτερες προκλήσεις για τη μαθηματική παιδεία. Ξεκινώ τοποθετώντας το κείμενο σε σχέση με συγκεκριμένες τάσεις στην έρευνα της μαθηματικής παιδείας, αφού προηγουμένως παρουσιάζω μια σύντομη ιστορική επισκόπηση του κλάδου. Ακολούθως, επικεντρώνομαι στην έννοια της περιθωριοποίησης, σχολιάζοντας ευρήματα σχετικών ερευνών για τη μάθηση και τη διδασκαλία των μαθηματικών. Πιο κάτω, κάνω μια σύντομη αναφορά στην ερευνητική μου εμπειρία σε τρία διαφορετικά πλαίσια, την Κύπρο, τη Σκωτία, και τη Νορβηγία, διερευνώντας πώς το ζήτημα της περιθωριοποίησης προσεγγίζεται από την εκπαιδευτική πολιτική κάθε χώρας, καθώς επίσης και πώς διδάσκοντες σχολικών μαθηματικών από την κάθε χώρα τοποθετούνται ως προς αυτό. Τέλος, στρέφομαι στην έννοια της δια-τομικότητας, υπογραμμίζοντας την ανάγκη για κατανόηση του πώς οι κοινώνικες ανισότητες λειτουργούν συνδυαστικά σε ό,τι αφορά την περιθωριοποίηση και τον αποκλεισμό ομάδων παιδιών από τα σχολικά μαθηματικά.
Thesis
This dissertation is an effort to better understand Black children’s conceptions of smartness and the ways that teachers communicate smartness through their practice. Here, I reimagine smartness as a verb rather than a noun–that is, smartness is about what one does that is smart. I develop a conceptual framework that attends to race, mathematics, and teacher practice that disrupts a traditional, white supremacist, and antiBlack mathematics education. Key elements of my conceptual frame incorporate tenets of critical race theory (Ladson-Billings, 1999) to attend to race. I drew on the mathematical task framework (Stein, Grover, Henningson, 1996) to appraise and analyze the mathematics problems used in the class, and the concept of normative identity (Cobb, Gresalfi, & Hodge, 2009) was a key analytic tool in identifying the obligations and messages communicated by the teacher. I used my conceptual framework to conduct a multi-case study that explores the conceptions of smartness of five Black learners during a summer mathematics program. Additionally, I identified five episodes of instruction that included critical moments that student-participants highlighted as related to their conceptions of smartness. I also then analyzed these episodes to understand what messages about smartness the teacher seemed to be communicating during the program. The data comprise three interviews with each student, pre- and post-surveys, the students’ notebooks from the program, and video recordings of classroom instruction. I used these data to answer the research questions: (1) How do Black students describe what it means to be smart in a summer mathematics program? And (2) How does a teacher communicate smartness during a summer mathematics program? The first part of my findings highlights the number and types of conceptions students have about smartness. The conceptions that I identified are complex and offer three key takeaways: conceptions among students are alike superficially, but different substantively, their conceptions of smartness are malleable, and their conceptions can be seen as strategies that pushback against antiBlackness. The second part of my findings highlights the messages that the teacher communicated about smartness and the methods she used to communicate those messages during the program. The teacher’s messages about smartness defined smartness to include characteristics such as listening to and learning from others’ thinking, revising your own thinking, and explaining your thinking to convince peers. I also identified six methods the teacher used to communicate these messages: interrupting normalized patterns of classroom interaction, scaffolding students to explain their thinking and to orient their explanations to the rest of the class, encourage students to revise their thinking, using the routines of “notes to self” and end-of-class checks as opportunities to reflect and focus on metacognitive development, strategically and intentionally acknowledge competence, designing and using tasks focused on key ideas and practices that challenge and surface multiple ways of thinking. Together these findings raise several implications for future research and practice. Future research should focus on discovering and unpacking the conceptions that Black learners bring into classrooms and how that connects to their enactment of smartness in different contexts. Needed are methods that capture the complexity and dynamism of students' conceptions of smartness, which would allow for understanding the relationship between students' conceptions and their enactments of smartness. From a practice perspective, focusing on the messages about smartness that teachers communicate as well as how they communicate them seems productive.
Article
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Background Within mathematics education research, policy, and practice, race remains undertheorized in relation to mathematics learning and participation. Although race is characterized in the sociological and critical theory literatures as socially and politically constructed with structural expressions, most studies of differential outcomes in mathematics education begin and end their analyses of race with static racial categories and group labels used for the sole purpose of disaggregating data. This inadequate framing is, itself, reflective of a racialization process that continues to legitimize the social devaluing and stigmatization of many students of color. I draw from my own research with African American adults and adolescents, as well as recent research on the mathematical experiences of African American students conducted by other scholars. I also draw from the sociological and critical theory literatures to examine the ways that race and racism are conceptualized in the larger social context and in ways that are informative for mathematics education researchers, policy makers, and practitioners. Purpose To review and critically analyze how the construct of race has been conceptualized in mathematics education research, policy, and practice. Research Design Narrative synthesis. Conclusion Future research and policy efforts in mathematics education should examine racialized inequalities by considering the socially constructed nature of race.
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In this article, the author employs critical race theory (CRT) and Latino Critical Theory (LatCrit) to examine Latina/o students' narratives of learning mathematics in a multilingual , urban high school. Intersectionality as a tenet of LatCrit is introduced as an important way to understand how students talk about the roles of race, language, and other central identities in their mathematics identity development as well as how they believe race may or may not matter in other people's mathematics achievement. The author's analysis illustrates how mathematics identities are co-constructed in relation to racial, linguistic, and gendered narratives of Latina/o youth. In general, the study adds empirical evidence to previous research on the difficulties that high school students encounter when articulating how race matters to their own identities in academic subjects and highlights the nuanced ways Latina/o students make connections between race, mathematical achievement, and schooling experiences in and through narratives of school success and failure.
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In this article, I seek to bring into conversation ideas from ethnomathematics (including Western mathematics), postcolonial theory, aesthetics, biology, and Indigenous knowledge in order to propose a new vision for practicing mathematics, something I refer to as mathematx. I do so in order to promote interaction between different knowledges, different ways of knowing, and different knowers. I build upon the work of sustainability in mathematics education and suggest we need to think not only about more ethical ways of applying mathematics in teaching and learning but question the very nature of mathematics, who does it, and how we are affected by that practice. I introduce the concepts of In Lak’ech, reciprocity, and Nepantla to suggest we learn from other-than-human persons, which, in turn, may change our relationships with them. Along the way, I underscore with examples from biology the potential limitations of current forms of mathematics for understanding/interacting with our world and the potential benefits of considering other-than-human persons as having different knowledges to contribute. Finally, I suggest implications for teaching and learning.
Book
Exploring the social, and specifically legal origins, of white racial identity, Ian Haney-Lopez here examines cases in America's past that have been instrumental in forming contemporary conceptions of race, law, and whiteness. In 1790, Congress limited naturalization to white persons. This racial prerequisite for citizenship remained in force for over a century and a half, enduring until 1952. In a series of important cases, including two heard by the United States Supreme Court, judges around the country decided and defined who was white enough to become American. White by Law traces the reasoning employed by the courts intheir efforts to justify the whiteness of some and the non-whiteness of others. Haney-Lopez reveals the criteria that were used, often arbitrarily, to determine whiteness, and thus citizenship: skin color, facial features, national origin, language, culture, ancestry, scientific opinion, and, most importantly, popular opinion. Having defined the social and legal origins of whiteness, the book turns its attention to white identity today and concludes by calling upon whites to acknowledge and renounce their privileged racial identity. Lopez notes that race is a highly contingent social construction that manifests itself in specific times, places, and situations and is informed by other markers of identity. Being White is not a monolithic or homogenous experience; it is changeable, partial, inconstant, and social. Whether one is White, and indeed what is means to be White, can change based on when and where one is and what one is doing.
Article
The Black fugitive in the United States has been a metaphorical and literal construction for both exposing oppressive forms of state governance and the development of strategic plans to achieve freedom from the state. Commonly thought of within a historical setting, the Black fugitive in this article is situated within the contemporary urban setting of Los Angeles, California. As told through the lived experience of young Black residents of the city, the narrative of fugitivity exposes the false promises of state governance, which is theorized as an enclosure. Specifically, this article focuses on self-removal from the state structure of formal education as a vehicle to understand Black fugitivity as a generative source of freedom from violent forms of state governance.
Article
The rhetoric about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in urban schools reflects a desire to imagine a new city that is poised to compete in a STEM-centered future. Therefore, STEM has been positioned as a critical part of urban education reform efforts. In various US cities, schools labeled as failing are being repurposed as selective STEM-intensive academies to build a STEM education infrastructure. In Memphis, Tennessee, this process makes visible issues with educational inequity, exacerbated by school choice and gentrification processes. In this article, I use whiteness as property, a tenet of critical race theory, to examine STEM education in Memphis as a case of urban STEM-based education reform in the United States. I describe claiming STEM education as property as a 2-phase process in which middle-class Whites in urban areas participate to secure STEM education by repurposing failed Black schools and to maintain it by institutionalizing selective admissions strategies.
Article
This paper examines historical and contemporary racializations of Asian(Americans) within the STEM system. The prevailing perception of Asian(Americans) as model minorities masks how their multiple and contradictory positionings in the STEM system perpetuate the neoliberal racial project and reproduce systems of racism and oppression. Through a multidisciplinary analysis of STEM education and industry, we demonstrate that the shifting racialization of Asian(Americans) secures advantages for White Americans by promoting meritocracy and producerism and justifies White supremacy. By serving these functions, the racialization of Asian(Americans) within the STEM system is central to the neoliberal racial project. This paper also suggests how STEM education researchers can reveal and resist, rather than veil and support, the neoliberal racial project in STEM.