2021 and Beyond
By: Hema Khodai
I have been a (sporadic) writer for the Global Math Department Newsletter for a year now. When I started I was very self-conscious about entering a new maths space and weary of navigating another set of relationships with folx I had never met. I was unsure about my writing; technique, content, tone, audience, … all of it. Additionally, I hyper focused on how my pieces would be received. I had no sense of reach and no way to gage reactions outside of the five people that faithfully read my pieces and commented on them. My unarticulated purpose was to push the boundaries of comfort for mathematics educators and my articulated fear was of offending the same community I sought to belong to. It’s nearly impossible to write under this level of stress.
So, I redirect my focus to the perspective I bring to the newsletter through connections to Canadian contexts and prepare to lift my voice to speak messages that center students. But I remain anxious, unknowing how I by way of my writing will be received.
As I write this piece, I imagine children sitting in spaces of mathematics education and draw parallels to weary students in a maths class that feels foreign; impenetrable. Unsure. Uneasy. Anxious. Insecure.
Last week @GlobalMathDept issued a statement and meetings are already scheduled to organize and plan concrete actions in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement. There is a deep exhale that occurs when a community you are a part of takes a bold stance against anti-Black racism. The writers of this statement agonized over every word and phrase to attend to the precision of their commitment. They grappled with their feelings and intentions but instead of languishing in them they take a purposeful step in the direction of the impact they want to have. It is a breath of fresh air, a moment of relief that I do not have to endure and persist alone. It is the single tear that escapes as I finally allow myself to feel the sheer exhaustion of the last few weeks, months, years, decades, lifetimes, … let’s face it – four centuries.
So, I return to the mental image of children sitting at desks, swallowing down the bile that accompanies microaggressions, suppressing the sting of a thousand daily cuts, numb from rejections both public and private, frozen in terror by the news of brutality, violence, lynchings, and death that swirls about them. The children that sit at desks waiting for acknowledgement of their continual state of pain and grief.
For the love of mathematics, say something.