MMSLN stands with NCTM and our communities

June 1, 2020

A Statement on George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery

As president and past president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), we are committed to a position of social justice that challenges the roles of power, privilege, and oppression. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the loved ones of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. As a mathematics education community, we must not tolerate acts of racism, hate, bias, or violence.

Many of you, your students, and colleagues watched the events in Minneapolis, Louisville, and Brunswick, Georgia, unfold on television and social media and have been affected by those incidents and the public reaction to them. The trauma of these developments has an impact on the social and emotional well-being of students and teachers in daily life and in classroom learning. Our colleague Matt Larson reminds us that We Teach More Than Mathematics. As mathematics educators, we must engage in anti-racist and trauma-informed education in our daily practices as processes of learning and adjustments.

Anti-racist and trauma-informed education not only raises our awareness of racism and trauma experienced by Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, and all marginalized peoples, but it also recognizes that we must be purposeful in addressing racism and trauma. In August 2017 Larson and Berry made several calls to the mathematics education community in their response to the unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia. In this message we renew these calls. As educators, teachers of mathematics, and a Council, we reiterate our position:

  • We support the use of mathematics as an analytic tool to challenge power, privilege, and oppression.
  • We encourage all educators to challenge systems of oppression that privilege some while disadvantaging others.
  • We encourage all educators to create socially and emotionally safe spaces for themselves, their students, and colleagues.

As NCTM’s Catalyzing Change series advocates, we need to engage in critical conversations that urge educators to create structures where each and every student can be fully engaged in our democratic society. We owe this not only to our students but also to the society we wish to inhabit both now and in the future.

One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist. There is no in-between safe space of “not racist.” The claim of “not racist” neutrality is a mask for racism. (Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, p. 9)

Trena L. Wilkerson
NCTM President

Robert Q. Berry III
NCTM Past President

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