Is Math Racist? That Does Not Compute
Racism has, tragically, raised its ugly head throughout history. And American has certainly seen its share. But after all the other things that have been called racist, with everything connected to them bearing guilt by association, it is nonetheless stunning that some are now calling mathematics racist, often inheriting ascribed guilt from the fact that some seem to be better at it than others. And the condemnation is far broader than most people imagine. For instance, I just did a Google search of “racist mathematics,” and it generated more than 70,000 hits.
Currently, the most famous example is from the Oregon Department of Education. It advertised a February 21 “Pathway to Math Equity Micro-Course” that espouses “ethnomathematics” in order to begin “dismantling racism in mathematics,” because mathematics reflects “white supremacy culture.” In contrast, ethnomathematics would help overcome the “unequivocally false” belief in “mathematics being purely objective” and counter “the idea that there are always right and wrong answers,” which “perpetuate[s] objectivity.” Alleged evidence includes that “the focus is on getting the ‘right’ answer” and that students are “required to ‘show their work.’”
Instead of focusing on a right answer, the training urges teachers to “come up with at least two answers that might solve this problem.” It also suggests “unpacking the assumptions that are made in the problem,” and “identify[ing] and challeng[ing] the ways that math is used to uphold capitalist, imperialist, and racist views.”
I can find a great deal to criticize about the claims being made, such as that there is always a right answer in math (the advocates involved have obviously neve
Article from Mises Wire