While we’re waiting for our liberal friends to gather their talking points from “Nan” Pelosi (as in “whatever you want me to do”) and answer a few of our questions about the accomplishments to date of the perpetually confused Joe Biden, let’s talk about another liberal idea — “racist” mathematics.
The theory rests on the belief that mathematics is a tool of White oppression, inherently biased against Blacks. Therefore, to level the playing field, Black children should be held to a different competency level. Mathematical approximations, as opposed to correct answers, is the goal.
Before we can begin to understand why some of our educators have wandered off into an ethereal fog of “wokeism,” we need to understand the origin and meaning of the word, “woke,” the current obsessive utterance in the American vocabulary.
According to Merriam-Webster online, “woke” is a “slang term … from some varieties of a dialect called African American Vernacular English ... often rendered as woke, as in, ‘I was sleeping, but now I’m woke.’” It appears the word initially meant “awareness of injustice or racial tension,” and later became a “word of action” with the BLM movement.
In a population living in perpetual anxiety of being tagged, “racist” (a term frequently hurled by liberals at anyone who dares to have an opinion on any subject that differs from the liberal lockstep), we see the rise of people in all walks of life scrambling to demonstrate themselves to be the “wokiest” of the woke.
Enter the Oregon Department of Education and its Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction toolkit where “math equity” can be achieved by “visibilizing the toxic characteristics of white supremacy culture with respect to math.” Two of the “toxic characteristics” include: (1) Focusing on the “right” answer, and (2) Independent practice valued over teamwork or collaboration.
The Oregon DOE states: “The concept of mathematics being purely objective is unequivocally false.” Tracy Castro-Gill, the ethnic studies program manager of the Seattle Public School, suggests that the problem is “how math is used as a tool for oppression.”
But the Oregon DOE is not alone in distributing its racist mathematics propaganda. Reported by David Freddoso of the Washington Examiner, Rochelle Gutierrez, education professor at the University of Illinois, stated, “On many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness.”
Another group known as the Mathematical Association of America released a statement on Oct. 2, declaring: “As mathematicians … we see the pattern of science being ignored [speaking specifically of the federal response to COVID-19] and the pattern of violence against our colleagues that give rise to race and racism.” The MMA continues, “It’s time for all members of our profession to acknowledge that mathematics is created by humans and therefore inherently carries human biases.”
Laurie Rubel, Brooklyn College Professor of Math Education, offered her words of wisdom on Twitter, writing that the 2+2=4 equation “reeks of white supremacist patriarchy.”
Not to be outdone on the wokeism scale of critical thinking, Kareem Carr, Harvard biostatistics Ph.D. candidate, put out this tweet: “Literal-minded people might sometimes say things like I put a rooster and a hen together and I came back a year later and there were three of them (1+1=3) or they might say I left a fox and a hen together and later I came back and there was only one (1+1=1).”
For the record, Mr. Carr, that’s biology, not mathematics.
Fortunately, other academics view the study of mathematics differently.
Mathematician and author, James Lindsay writes, “…the Woke need to be held firmly to the point, that feats of engineering like space travel and rocketry utterly depend upon accepting stable meanings of mathematical statements like 2+2=4 as objectively true, not mere accidents of culture.”
And, finally, John McWhorter, Black linguist and English professor, Columbia University, delivered a killing blow to the “racist” mathematics theory: “…it is racism propounded as antiracism. Black kids shouldn’t be expected to master the precision of math and should be celebrated for talking around it, gamely approximating its answers and saying why it can be dangerous? This is bigotry right out of Reconstruction, Tulsa, Selma, and Charlottesville.”
I couldn’t have said it better, Professor McWhorter.
M.K. Sprinkle writes from Hampstead. Her column appears every other Saturday. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.