The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, California, is hosting a workshop to discuss the role that math plays in the quest for racial justice.
According to the organization’s website, the “Mathematics and Racial Justice” workshop will take place over two weeks beginning June 9. Thus far, the organization has announced four different seminars entitled, “Bias in Algorithms and Technology,” “Fair Division, Allocation, and Representation,” “Public Health Disparities,” and “Racial Inequities in Mathematics Education.”
A description of the event sent to The Daily Wire claims that the workshop will promote “anti-racist” practices.
“The overarching goal of the Workshop on Mathematics and Racial Justice is to explore the role that mathematics plays in today’s movement for racial justice,” the description reads. “For the purposes of this workshop, racial justice is the result of intentional, active, and sustained anti-racist practices that identify and dismantle racist structures and policies that operate to oppress, disenfranchise, harm, and devalue Black people.”
The workshop is open to the general public, though its target demographic is mathematicians, statisticians, computer scientists, and STEM educators who are “interested in using the tools of these disciplines to critically examine and eradicate racial disparities in society.”
Educators from higher education institutions across the country organized the workshop. The workshop is run by Sonoma State University assistant professor Omayra Ortega and Robin Wilson, a professor at California State Polytechnic University-Pomona.
Other educators involved in the workshop include Caleb Ashley, a professor at Boston College, Ron Buckmire, a mathematician and LGBT activist at Occidental College in California, Duane Cooper, a professor at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Erica Graham, a professor at Bryn Mawr, and Monica Jackson, a dean at American University.
Each is considered a researcher with “expertise or interest in problems at the intersection of mathematics, statistics, and racial justice.”
The push to connect math and social justice is a new and growing phenomenon in academia. With the backing of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Oregon Department of Education released a mathematics guide telling educators that asking students to show their work in math class is a form of white supremacy.
The 82-paged instructional guide, entitled “A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction,” lists the ways in which white supremacy is perpetuated in math class.
The Daily Wire reported:
“White supremacy culture infiltrates math classrooms in everyday teacher actions,” the guide reads. “Coupled with the beliefs that underlie these actions, they perpetuate educational harm on Black, Latinx, and multilingual students, denying them full access to the world of mathematics.”
The guide offers a year-long framework for “deconstructing racism in mathematics.” It calls for “visibilizing [sic] the toxic characteristics of white supremacy culture with respect to math.”
Examples of classroom actions that allegedly perpetuate white supremacy include asking students to show their work, focusing on getting the right answer, tracking student success, and grading students.
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