Diversity with Intentionality

Hey y’all!

Yes, this is another post about diversity in mathematics.

And yes, like the title implies, I am writing this blog intentionally.

Why am I doing this ? Because math is too beautiful and too full of noticing and wondering to be one-dimensional.

Why, again ? Because achieving true diversity and equity for all students and educators does not happen accidentally. It has to be with purpose that we (as educators of all colors, religions, genders, etc. ) create equitable classrooms that support the creative thinking, intelligence, and success of all of our students. Many of them have not seen representations of themselves in the front of the classroom or in their textbooks. It has to be with purpose that we support our colleagues, especially those of color, who do not see themselves represented in educational spaces – they are the mirrors of their students.

When I was first asked to write this blog, I knew I wanted to speak about diversity in mathematics but did not know how to approach it. Then miraculously, or by divine intervention, the tweet below showed up on my twitter feed.

BJ Thompson @bj116 is not a math educator. He is a life coach, author, and speaker, but his words ring true for not only for mathematics education, but for all of education. The above quote is an answer to a question that many have asked, but the answer has seemed elusive . So many educators are searching and asking how to be more inclusive in the classroom or at educational conferences or in other ed spaces, the answer is simple, yet it is going to require sacrifice. The answer is seek out diversity. No, not for a transaction in which you ask a question from an educator that fits into some category of diversity and get an answer and move on. Or, you ask someone to speak about diversity because they are considered “diverse.” Its not about learning a new hip-hip song, new lingo, or how to be cool with your students. It is not about a quick fix.

You cannot have diversity or really understand equity without building relationships with those that are different from you. You have to make the effort. Seek out relationships, not as a means to an end, but as the means and the end. Listen to hear and to understand. Acknowledge what you know and what you don’t know. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but don’t be offended if someone different from you won’t answer your questions. The burden is not on the “marginalized” to show you the way. At times, you have to seek the answers out yourself. You are an educator and a lifelong learner. The answers are there if you are really looking for them.

As a new teacher attending my first NCTM 10 years ago, I could count the number of educators of color I saw on one hand. At NCTM this year there were more diverse speakers to be showcased than I had ever seen before. I purposefully came to NCTM (and paid out of my own pocket) because seeing those that looked like me was that important. I saw me in leadership, as keynote speakers, and leading packed sessions. This year I swam in a sea of diversity, but it was intentional. I intentionally placed myself around a diverse set of educators whose passion for teaching math was equally inclusive of equity and culturally relevant pedagogy. I intentionally went to keynotes and sessions that promoted diversity and equity. I intentionally built relationships that are still evolving with teachers of all colors, religions, genders, nationalities, etc., and I am better for it.

So how do you begin your journey if you are new to this? And, for those of us on this journey already, how do we continue? In a recent twitter chat hosted by @mathedmatters and @beREalcoach called “Diversity and Inclusion in Math Ed Spaces,” we talked about how to seek out diversity. One of my group members (@deidrabaker) said something powerful that will now be my call to action for us all. She said, “Look around the room and see what voices are missing. Then go and seek out those voices.” That is how the journey begins and that is how the journey continues for us all. Intentionally seek out diversity and build relationships. It won’t be easy but you, your colleagues, and most importantly your students will be better for it.

Makeda Brome @TheBromenator


1 thought on “Diversity with Intentionality”

  1. I enjoyed reading your blog Makeda! The call to action is a great one. I am finishing up my 20th year of teaching, and throughout my career, I intentionally sought out others who were different from me. I learned a lot about people, and how we all interconnect, whether we are connecting face to face or when others are talking about us.

    Peace and love,
    Paula R.


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