Culture

Mathematics Operates Like Whiteness

Here’s what mathematics education professor Rochelle Gutierrez said:

Who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as White. School mathematics curricula emphasizing terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans. Perhaps more importantly, mathematics operates with unearned privilege in society, just like Whiteness.

Given the beyond-astonishing success of mathematics, that it operates as Whiteness can only be a hearty and smiling two thumbs up in favor of Whiteness. If only we could teach everybody to be White, or to operate as Whiteness, then there would be no end to mathematical greatness!

Skip it.

Now, in the old days, before the Great Awokening, mathematics education was to mathematics as crayon drawings of turkeys were to Thanksgiving dinner. It wasn’t math per se, it was, and is, a lucrative sub-profession whose business it is to grant teaching certificates. Without these required certificates teachers aren’t allowed to teach the kiddies how to add and subtract.

In these woke days mathematical education is mathematics. Anything that a credentialed professor, in any field, especially aggrieved an professor, says is mathematics is mathematics. And has to be, since those who can’t operate as Whiteness are having a hard time doing mathematics when math was just plain math. If we keep math as math we’re going to develop massive inequities, disparities, and other bad things.

A blogger named Tian An at the American Mathematical Society, which is their premiere organization, wants to set us straight about what math should be. She first quoted the other lady above. Then she said this.

Last semester, I developed a class called Inequalities: Numbers and Justice, aimed towards non-majors. My students ranged from undergraduate seniors to students in the local high school, with majors ranging from Government to Chinese to Computer Science. It was the second incarnation of a course I had taught years ago, in which we worked through the ideas in Gutstein and Peterso’s Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers, which was written at the middle-school level. In Inequalities, my hope was to develop these ideas into a college-level course.

Over the course of the semester, we explored how notions of fairness and equality have been considered from the point of view of mathematics and economics. What ways were these ideas defined, and given the definitions, how can they be measured? We covered topics ranging from the misuses of statistics to gerrymandering to racial capitalism and climate change. In the end, students were able to appreciate the complexities of fairness, the deep inequities that capitalism produces, and questioned the idea that mathematics is politically neutral.

Written at the middle-school level? If Jamal has one taco and Taqueesha has no tacos, is the total number of tacos, which the student must calculate, distributed in a fair and equitable manner?

At least students will question the idea that mathematics is politically neutral. They will instead learn that equations like cos(0) = 1 supports the intersectional theory of gender multiplicities. How? Hey, are you some kind of bigot?

Can mathematics, specifically beyond the K-12 level, be antiracist? Are critical mathematics pedagogy…and “higher” mathematics…necessarily in opposition to each other? Social justice is a popular phrase these days, even in mathematics circles, but what does it mean? In a recent volume, Mathematics for Social Justice: Resources for the College Classroom, editors Gizem Karaali and Lily Khadjavi describe the work as part of a “national movement to include social justice material into mathematics teaching”. While the volume represents an important effort in bringing discussions around race, gender, class, and power into the college mathematics classroom, I am left wanting more.

Love the scare quotes around “higher”! If Equity means anything it means all equations are the same, all theorems are equally deserving of attention.

Kids, especially the ladies, are going to love these changes. No more endless sweating over doing the odd numbers every night as homework. Now they can talk about their feelings instead.

Attempts to shoehorn social justice into mathematics curricula perhaps say more about the political leanings of the teacher than anything else. At the same time, we must be wary of diversity initiatives in mathematics which simply reproduce a different class of scientists that perpetuate structures of domination and oppression, in place of work to dismantle the whiteness which mathematics operates as, and to truly equip students for a world of growing inequality and climate catastrophe. After all, would it have been better if it were nonwhite people who developed the atomic bomb?

It goes on and on and on and on and then on some more like this, each sentence sucking a little more of the soul from real math.

Here’s the thing: Top mathematicians aren’t condemning this kind of nonsense. I saw no comments from any mathematician of note anywhere calling this idiocy out. Either they don’t think it’s worth their bother, or they don’t want to take on the Woke Machine. They figure they’ll survive the ever-encroaching spread of the disease as long as they are quiet.

Best of luck!

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Categories: Culture

11 replies »

  1. The Great Awokening … heh

    I’m not math-intuitive and have to work at. Does that diminish my “whiteness”?

    I guess these nitwits never learned algebra and the concept of zero were developed by non-white people.

  2. Equality and fairness—everyone is equally poor and stupid. It MUST be that way because you can’t make dumb people smart, so everyone must be dumb. No one can earn more than the bottom-feeding parasite that lives off the government or unfairness occurs. Laws cannot exist as they are unfair and unequal. Equality is, by definition, poverty, anarchy and stupidity. It can be nothing else. These moronic, useless wastes of oxygen XXs are destroying the human race and damn proud of it. Meanwhile, the XYs go for another adult beverage. (Note: Mayor Perv promises to let criminals out of jail to fix drug problems. Now, tell me I’m exaggerating the idiocy.)

    It was said mathematics is the language of nature. Nope, nature is not a liar as is now “mathematics” and nature does not care about equality, race, race, gender etc. So the useless XXs have changed mathematics to a stupid course in lies and fantasy.

    As stated before, if you’re under 50, stop now going to hospitals, buying cars, driving over bridges because, to put it bluntly, all hell is going to break loose as XXs put their non-racist math into equal opportunity DEATH for people. Have a nice life and enjoy that which you really, really wanted. I know you wanted it because no one bothers to stop it—proof that the average American desperately WANTS to die by poor building construction and lack of genuine medical care (I hear shamans are a dime a dozen right now, so hire early).

  3. I ASS-U-ME you read the last sentence of the biography …

    ” They are also interested in critical pedagogy and antiracist mathematics.”

  4. ” After all, would it have been better if it were nonwhite people who developed the atomic bomb?”

    I can confidently predict that if the Japanese had invented it before the US then things would have been a *lot* worse… especially for ethnic Chinese Malaysians…
    “Bruce,

    That is one ugly broad.”

    Apparently this person is a “they” but the students think “they” are a he…

  5. Everyone knows that humanity is composed of people all with equal talent but they are discriminated against by an evil conspiracy of white male heterosexual patriarchal hegemonists, who use logic, mathematics, and science to oppress and impoverish women and people of color.

  6. “(Note: Mayor Perv promises to let criminals out of jail to fix drug problems. Now, tell me I’m exaggerating the idiocy.)”

    Well from the UK perspective it isn’t that simple… There are people here who get sent to stir clean and come out with a habit… Sometimes the screws union organises some propaganda about drones, and ups visitors searches. All to avoid the point that contraband gear on that scale indicates that corrupt staff are in on the deal…. Secure rehab would be better for both some prisoners and society as a whole than leaving them to fester in a bent nick…

  7. It’s like how the US abandoned the field while defeating the North Vietnamese. You can’t win if you walk away.

    There once was a website supporting a group of grade-school textbook reviewers from the higher levels of mathematics. “Mathematically Correct”.

    Wikipedia reports the math professors walked away from the battle around 2012 or maybe 2013. The textbook publishers more concerned with “aligning” textbooks with “Common Core” and other political winds — well, they won.

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