"Cultural racism - the cultural images and messages that affirm the assumed superiority of whites and the assumed inferiority of people of color - is like smog in the air. Sometimes it is so thick it is visible, other times it is less apparent, but always day in and day out, we are breathing it in... To say it is not our fault does not relieve us of responsibility, however. We may not have polluted the air, but we need to take responsibility, along with others, for cleaning it up. Each of us needs to look at our behavior. Am I perpetuating and reinforcing the negative messages so pervasive in our culture, or am I seeking to challenge them? If I have not been exposed to positive images of marginalized groups, am I seeking them out, expanding my own knowledge base for myself and my children? Am I acknowledging and examining my own prejudices, my own rigid categorizations of others, thereby minimizing the adverse impact they might have on my interactions with those I have categorized? Unless we engage in these and other conscious acts of reflection and reeducation, we easily repeat the process with our children."

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, Why Are All the Black Students Sitting By Themselves?

Educating Ourselves

We gathered the resources on this page to help ANN members who want to explore the questions asked in the quote above from Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, especially in the context and intersection of racism and math education. Our hope is that by providing these resources and space within the organization to learn with each other, we can improve our teaching practice and better serve our students.


Beginning Steps in Addressing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Math Class

Pam Meader, veteran teacher and founding member of ANN, shares what she's been learning about diversity, equity, and inclusion in math class. She reminds us of the strengths of the adult numeracy practices that we trust while challenging us to keep learning about the history of racism and our own biases. Read Pam's piece here: Beginning Steps in Addressing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Math Classes

Implicit Biases

Explicit bias and racism are harmful and dangerous and have no place in our society, let alone in our math classrooms. But what about implicit biases?

  • Implicit Biases are unconscious. We are unaware that we have them and we can't reason them away through introspection. 
  • Implicit Biases can run counter to our consciously held beliefs and values. For example, a teacher who believes that all students are valuable and capable of learning may be surprised to learn that they call on certain students more often or respond differently to mistakes made by different types of students. 

Project Implicit has created a series on online Implicit Association Tests that work as smog detectors, giving us a window into our own unconscious biases. Over 70% of non-white people who take the racial implicit bias test favor white people over Black people. And studies show that teachers have just as many implicit biases as everyone else.

We live in a country where Black students are nearly four times as likely to be suspended as white students, and nearly twice as likely to be expelled. Where Black pre-schoolers are 3.6 times more likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions. (Teachers' implicit bias against Black students starts in preschool, study finds, The Guardian, Oct. 2016) 

According to the report, Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls' Childhoods, in 2013-2014, Black girls made up 15.6% of girls enrolled in K-12, but 52% of the multiple suspensions. White girls made up 50% of enrollment and only 22.7% of multiple suspensions. Even more telling is that the study found that Black students were more likely to be disciplined for subjective judgements: Black girls were 2x more likely to be disciplined for minor violations than white girls. They were 2.5x more likely to be disciplined for disobedience, 3x more likely to be disciplined for disruptive behavior, 3x more likely to be disciplined for fighting, and 3x more likely to be disciplined for bullying/harassment. Black boys were 1.3x more likely to be disciplined for minor violations than white boys. They were 1.5x more likely to be disciplined for disobedience, 1.5x more likely to be disciplined for disruptive behavior, 1.6x more likely to be disciplined for fighting, and 1.5x more likely to be disciplined for bullying/harassment. The point is that how students are read and how their behavior is interpreted by teachers is largely subjective and that leaves them vulnerable to bias, and especially implicit bias from teachers who aren't even aware they are doing it. 

  

An amazing snapshot of this is described in 20 Judgements a Teacher Makes in 1 Minute and 28 SecondsMath education researcher Deborah Lowenberg Ball has done extensive work around what she calls, "discretionary spaces," which refer to all the judgements teachers have to make moment to moment. Through her research she hopes to help teachers look for implicit biases, subtle racism and sexism and change their practice. In this article (and accompanying video), she explores 1 minute and 28 seconds of her class and counts 20 micro moments where she had to decide how to react, each with dramatic implications for the math identities of her students. 


Another way that teacher implicit biases can hurt students is when they lower expectations. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when students are presumed to be unable to handle certain types of mathematics and so receive instruction focused on rote memorization, drills, and procedural understanding, which ensures that those students never experience another type of math. And which loops back and reinforces the initial implicit bias that students are only capable of memorizing procedures. 

Does Race Matter by Dr. Danny Martin (NCTM Teaching Children Mathematics, October 2009)

"We must be aware that our beliefs in racial achievement gaps can motivate us to appropriate or develop negative beliefs about African American children and prevent us from seeing them as the intellectually capable, competent doers of mathematics that they are."

What Teachers Should Know About Implicit Bias Right Now by Angela Duckworth (Education Week, June 2020)

In Math, Teachers Unconscious Biases May Be More Subtle Than you Think by Sarah Sparks (Education Week, December 2019"I don't think any teacher is intentionally having different expectations based on gender or race...That's why we need to increase awareness of implicit bias, so teachers are more aware of the implicit messages they are giving to their students."

Disrupting Implicit Bias

Microaggressions

Microaggressions are offshoots of bias. Dr. Derald Wing Sue defines them as everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership. 

The video to the right, Microaggressions in the Classroom (18 minutes) is centered around students sharing different microaggressions they have experienced in school. The video also offers strategies from teachers on what to do when someone else commits a microaggression in your class. 

This document is a list of the microaggressions mentioned in the video: Examples of Microaggressions in the Classroom

The video to the left (2 minutes) uses the metaphor of mosquito bites to demonstrate the impact of the constant barrage of microaggressions. 

Additional Readings

Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life (2007) by Derald Wing Sue, Christina M. Capodilupo, Gina C. Torino, Jennifer M. Bucceri, Aisha M. B. Holder, Kevin L. Nadal, and Marta Esquilin 

Anti-Racist Teaching

What Anti-Racist Teachers Do Differently by Pirette Mckamey (The Atlantic, June 2020)

"The only measure of our anti-racist teaching will be the academic success of all of our students, including our black students."

Does Race Matter by Dr. Danny Martin (NCTM Teaching Children Mathematics, October 2009)

"We must be aware that our beliefs in racial achievement gaps can motivate us to appropriate or develop negative beliefs about African American children and prevent us from seeing them as the intellectually capable, competent doers of mathematics that they are."

Seattle Public Schools K-12 Math Ethnic Studies Framework with Learning Targets and Essential Questions organized around 4 themes: (1) Origins, Identity, & Agency, (2) Power & Oppression , (3) History of Resistance & Liberation, and (4) Reflection & Action

Crime & Punishment: A Tale of Changing Beliefs by Jenna Laib - Recommended by Amy Vickers (WI) "Jenna tells a compelling story that really illustrates the value of adult numeracy in understanding the world around us, especially using numeracy to question what we already know or think we know."

Educational Resources Exploring the History of Racial Oppression, Resistance, and Power 

The Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones is a major contribution in understanding the legacy of slavery with "aims to reframe the country's history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the center of our national narrative." There is also a 1619 Project Podcast (available online and through Spotify)

Seeing White (Season 2 from Scene on Radio): This podcast explores the current state of the US through a history of racism focused on the history, and explicit creation, of "whiteness."  

We Need to Talk about an Injustice: Videos by Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy, and founder and director of the Equal Justice Initiative, including his TED Talk, We Need to Talk About an Injustice.

Isabel Wilkerson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of the gift of a book, The Warmth of Other Suns, the definitive history of the Great Migration. Her website has interviews and presentations. Her TED Talk, The Great Migration and the Power of a Single Decision (17 minutes), is a good place to start, as is  The History is Long, The History is DeepAn interview with Isabel Wilkerson , an interview with BrenĂ© Brown. 

BrenĂ© Brown interviewing Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Anti-Racist and Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist ideas in America (and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You, which is a YA version and suitable for ABE students)

My Dungeon Shook and the Chains Fell Off: A Letter to my Nephew by James Baldwin, 1963 (read by Jesse Martin, with text) 

On Being with Krista Tippet - In this episode, Krista hosts a conversation between Resmaa Menakem and Robin DiAngelo. Resmaa Menakem is a Minneapolis trauma specialist, therapist, and author of My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies. Robin DiAngelo is the author of White Fragility. 

Examples of Systemic Racism

Organizations & Communities

For ANN members wishing to connect with other organizations & communities that are exploring the intersection of anti-racism and math teaching and learning, here are some resources to support your work:

TODOS: Mathematics for ALL

Nepantla Teachers Community"Our mission is to create a space for mathematics educators to develop critical perspectives by forming a community that can support and push each other toward equitable and just practices. We support this work by developing and exploring teachers’ own identities in the context of their race, gender, and class.  Our goal is to develop teacher leaders who will advocate for students who are traditionally marginalized."

North American Study Group on Ethnomathematics (NASGEm): The term "ethnomathematics" was coined by Ubiratan D'Ambrosio to describe the mathematical practices of identifiable cultural groups. It is sometimes used specifically for small-scale indigenous societies, but in its broadest sense the "ethno" prefix can refer to any group -- national societies, labor communities, religious traditions, professional classes, and so on. Mathematical practices include symbolic systems, spatial designs, practical construction techniques, calculation methods, measurement in time and space, specific ways of reasoning and inferring, and other cognitive and material activities which can be translated to formal mathematical representation. NASGEm strives to increase our understanding of the cultural diversity of mathematical practices, and to apply this knowledge to education and development.

A Virtual Conference on Humanizing Mathematics: Between August 1 and August 29th, 2019, Hema Kodai Sam Shah, organized an online conference through daily keynote blogposts written by math teachers from across the country. At their core, each post explored one of these two broad questions - How do you highlight that the doing of mathematics is a human endeavor? How do you express your identity as a doer of mathematics to, and share your “why” for doing mathematics with, kids? 

#ClearTheAir is an open group of educators on Twitter who believe (1) community, learning and dialogue are essential to personal and professional development, (2) we have the power and responsibility to lay the foundations necessary to create a more just and equitable society, and (3) education is a vehicle for social change. The group is facilitated by the gifted Valerie Brown, reading texts together to (1) engage in public discourse because it allows us to live our values out loud, (2) invite others into the conversation and hold them lovingly accountable, and (3) understand that we are on a lifelong journey and are committed to taking any steps that move us forward. 

EduColor - EduColor mobilizes advocates nationwide around issues of educational equity, agency, and justice. They use social media as their primary platform for community and coalition, mobilizing the digital community towards concrete action on equity, justice, and anti-racism. They host a town hall-style conversation with our participants all over the world on every last Thursday of the month. They use the hashtag #EduColor for educators to ask and answer questions, and to provide resources.

The Young People's Project and the Math Literacy Worker Program

Podcasts:

Vocabulary

Racial Equity Tools Glossary: From Ally to Whiteness, this glossary defines words often used in discussions of racial equity. 

"Words and their multiple uses reflect the tremendous diversity that characterizes our society. Indeed, universally agreed upon language on issues relating to racism is nonexistent. We discovered that even the most frequently used words in any discussion on race can easily cause confusion, which leads to controversy and hostility. It is essential to achieve some degree of shared understanding, particularly when using the most common terms. In this way, the quality of dialogue and discourse on race can be enhanced."

Abolitionist Teaching

Abolitionist Teaching Network Abolitionist Teaching Network's mission is simple: develop and support educators to fight injustice within their schools and communities. Below are some recent panel discussions with some of the leaders of that organization. 

Is there a resource about the history of racism that you think should be added? Is there a resource on anti-racist teaching you'd like to share. 

Please let us knowResource Suggestions. 



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