If you are scratching your head over how math might be racist, you are not alone:
… one thing that is helpful for parents, students, and teachers is for students to show their work. I know it can be hard to get students to do this. My own children hate to do it. However, being explicit about the steps in their reasoning is important for a number of reasons. First, showing their work helps students with harder problems. Oftentimes students will get into a habit of completing easy problems in their heads. Then, when more complicated problems come, they fail simply because they got into the habit of not writing down what they were doing. Second, it helps the teachers and parents help the students. The teachers and parents can explicitly see what the student was thinking and where that thinking went awry. This helps everyone involved pinpoint and correct the mistake.
So, what does Equitable Math say about this practice?
According to their published guide, “White supremacy culture shows up in math class when students are required to show their work” (Dismantling Racism in Math Instruction, page 51). Why? For the reasons mentioned above! It promotes “paternalism” — the idea that math teachers and parents might know more about mathematics than the students (see also page 72 where it claims that teachers teaching is another facet of white supremacy culture). It promotes “worship of the written word” — the idea that writing things down makes things more explicit, understandable, and knowable. These are things that most of us perceive as benefits, but according to Equitable Math, is a product of “white supremacy culture.Jonathan Bartlett, “Antiracism in Math Promotes Racism and Bad Math” at Mind Matters News
Funny how discouraging some people (but not all of us, mind you) from numeracy is supposed to help make the world more just.
See also: Yes, there really is a war on math in our schools. Pundits differ as to the causes but here are some facts parents should know. It feels odd to hear math, a multi-ethnic enterprise for as long as we have had written records, described as “white supremacy.”