Statement on Anti-racism
July 2, 2020
The NSF-funded COMMIT Project (formerly known as the IBL Communities project) recognizes the deeply embedded nature of systemic anti-black racism in the United States. The most shocking manifestation of this, witnessed over and over, are the horrific police killings that have again recently caught the attention of our entire nation. Because the authors of this document are white, it is impossible for us to fully understand the pain experienced by the Black community. To the Black community: we mourn with you and support you in the wake of the killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks, and, looking back, too many other valued human beings whose names may or may not be widely known.
We recognize that this anti-black racism runs so much broader and deeper than police killings, and permeates every aspect of our society, including our mathematics departments and classrooms, where we have personally witnessed institutional racism. The solution to this problem is much more than changing individuals, it is changing systems, policies, and institutions, including our systems of higher education. Our acknowledgement of these problems is nothing without action. We stand with the Black community to engage with and find ways to positively influence, in particular, these spheres in which we work -- mathematics, teaching, and professional development.
One “pillar” of IBME instruction is to promote equity in the classroom. We are committed to taking that pillar outside of the classroom and working with the regional communities that are part of this project to help promote equity more generally in the mathematical community. One of the project’s goals is to support, collaborate with, and learn from instructors
(1) who hold identities underrepresented in the mathematical community,
(2) who teach at minority-serving institutions (MSIs), or
(3) who teach at two year colleges (TYCs), which as a group, disproportionately educate black and brown students in this country.
To meet this overarching project goal we are:
Intentionally learning more about diverse institutional contexts (e.g, TYCs, MSIs) to understand how IBL regional communities can help support their pedagogical goals;
Doing outreach to involve educators who are in the above categories;
Promoting equitable facilitation at all communities’ regional workshops (as well as establishing a focus on equitable teaching among the workshops’ goals);
Asking regional communities to prioritize diversity in their leadership team, their workshop facilitators, and the institutions where events are held;
Receiving guidance from our advisory board, which consists of Ami Radunskaya (past president of the Association for Women in Mathematics; Pomona College), Ryan Gantner (past director of the Upstate New York IBL Consortium; St. John Fisher College), and Annie Yi Han (past chair; Borough of Manhattan Community College).
The Network of IBL Communities has become an institutional member of the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM), one of whose primary goals is to promote “the mathematical development of all underrepresented minorities.”
We are requiring existing and future regional communities associated with this project to publish visible, public statements of inclusion on their websites.
We are assembling a toolkit on equitable teaching in college math classrooms that we will distribute to all of the communities associated with this project.
We are designating mini-grants for running reading groups based on toolkit materials or other materials of their choosing related to anti-racism, both in the classroom and in general.
Our leadership team will hold targeted discussions on antiracist literature at least twice per year. Our first such meeting was June 10, 2020.
Finally, this list is not yet complete. As a starting point, its scope is necessarily narrow. We will continue to reflect on further actions we can take, as a project, to work within our spheres of influence to help dismantle anti-black racism more broadly. We will add to this list as we go.