To most people I think University of Illinois professor Dr. Rochelle Gutierrez’ (PhD, Education) claim would seem to be not just ludicrous, but dotty:
Prof: Algebra, geometry perpetuate white privilege
“On many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness. Who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as White,” Gutierrez argued.
Gutierrez also worries that algebra and geometry perpetuate privilege, fretting that “curricula emphasizing terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans.”
Perhaps an investigation into the origin of the word Algebra (“al-jabr”) would make Dr. Gutierrez happier. Or, maybe she’d feel better if she thought about all those Asians who have so much trouble with the whiteness of math, that they have to be discriminated against in the admissions process.
In any case, mathematics since about the 15th century has largely been developed by Europeans (some of whom were Hispanic, FWIW) and their descendants, so is the point that we should culturally disappropriate?
As for the Greeks, Pythagoras was one; and the first method for rigorously calculating π was devised by Archimedes around 250BC, which is why we use a Greek letter for it. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s hardly the only Greek symbol you have to comprehend to do much in the way of math.
The claim that use of the Greek names and symbols perpetuates white privilege over 2,000 years later is, um… interesting. Math curricula should be modified, and the entire symbolic canon should be revised, because Greeks are white?
I guess people who can’t do, teach; and people who can’t teach design curricula focusing “on equity issues in mathematics education,” rather than worrying about actually calculating the area of a circle.
It’s as if someone insisted there is no biological basis for distinguishing between female and male human beings:
Dr. Nicholas Matte, professor of gender studies at University of Toronto, is claiming that biological sex differences are an error in perception which only arises because of the way we’ve been socialized. Sexual identity is, therefore, whimsical. Never mind the 99.7% correspondence between physical characteristics and how people identify as men or women; they’re deluded, it’s just words and experience, nothing objective whatsoever. Never mind the science relating to, for just one example, in utero exposure to testosterone. Here. Here. Here. And Here.
Yet, as we’ve seen, the denial of biological difference between men and women is a dogma seriously argued by credentialed academics. (I want to know, if your biological sex is whatever you think it is moment by moment, what’s the point of women’s studies?)
This isn’t merely an academic conceit: James Damore was fired by Google for suggesting that recognizing such differences might improve profitability. Social Justice ideology cost him his job, and, if it hasn’t already, it’ll eventually turn its attention to you.
So, what’s denial of biological sex got to do with claiming mathematics reinforces “White privilege?”
The denial that there are biological differences between men and women springs from the same philosophy which brings us racist mathematics; Postmodernism, and its incoherent adjunct, intersectionality. Postmodernism tells us we can’t know objective reality, everything we think is socially constructed delusion. On the other hand, all that stuff we can’t actually know intersects oppressively at the corner of Western and Civilization – aka the Phallological Patriarchy.
Fortunately, most of us are not Postmodernists – we don’t insist that ideas like ‘mathematics is racist’ are essential to our core beliefs. Unfortunately, most of us are therefore unaware of the extent of the Postmodernist cancer, and don’t routinely subject it to the unrelenting mockery it so richly deserves.
Postmodernism enables a person with pretensions to intellectual aptitude to deny biology or to say out loud that:
“mathematics itself operates as Whiteness”
If you can’t grasp the concept of “the square root of minus one,” it’s because of white people. Sorry, “White” people, speaking English: I’m sure there’s some problem with that, if Gutierrez would just think about it. After all, it implies our very ability to communicate comes from Europeans. Maybe it’s even why English profs don’t get as many grants as Math profs.
“algebra and geometry perpetuate privilege”
“Privilege” as used here demeans our admiration for people who are better than someone else at anything, not just math. Besides, it’s double plus ungood to suggest people who are good at something deserve admiration. Since Postmodernism teaches us there’s no actual meaning to anything, how can being good at something justify
privilege admiration? What difference, at that point, does it make?
“If one is not viewed as mathematical, there will always be a sense of inferiority that can be summoned,”
All of us, perhaps excepting Donald Trump, can “summon a sense of inferiority” about something. Very often, it’s about math. How could it be otherwise? So all of us are oppressed in some way or another. Some are just more oppressed than others.
Still, being able to carry a tune, paint a picture, write a poem, repair an internal combustion engine, build a house, or install a plumbing system command different levels of status, respect and compensation. Certainly, a “math education professor at the University of Illinois” has ‘privilege.’ She has the privilege to imply that individualistic Western capitalist culture is corrupt beyond redemption, because math is “White.” And male.
Rochelle Gutierrez has the privilege to be resentful. She wonders, “why math professors get more research grants than “social studies or English” professors.”
Perhaps it’s just supply and demand. I’d suggest math professors are rarer because a PhD in Mathematics is much harder than a PhD in Education, so fewer people can do it, minority or otherwise. And math professors work is not, despite Ms. Gutierrez’ ministrations, yet buggered up with all the politically correct crap Education majors apparently carry around – so the mathematicians are actually doing something useful.
Maybe she should, instead, ask why plumbers get paid more than math education professors who push Orwell’s words onto their own discipline:
“In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. … The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” – “1984”
That’s Postmodernism he’s describing.
If you want to understand what’s going on with the college cry-bullies and their pronoun idiocy; to see why there is an alliance of gay rights activists and gender feminists with homophobic and misogynist Islamic fundamentalists; to apprehend what is really meant by “white privilege” in mathematics; to see how Progressive intellectuals can still promote Marxism despite damning evidence from Stalin, Mao, Castro, Chavez… you need to understand what Postmodernism preaches. Without that understanding you may continue to think that outbursts calling mathematics patriarchal-racism are isolated and silly, and that gender studies professors who reject biology can safely be ignored.
Just as I went to post this, this popped up:
Prof: punishing protesters promotes ‘white supremacy’
A University of Southern California professor recently argued that punishing protesters who disrupt conservative speakers can reinforce “white supremacy.” Charles H.F. Davis, a professor of education at USC, argued in an essay for Inside Higher Ed that punishing protesters contributes to white supremacy because it can unfairly “suppress and criminalize” students, especially in light of protesters’ valiant goals.
Translation: Don’t even think about punishing riotous thugs who have the privilege of being USC students, because this creates “an unsafe and threatening environment” for the privileged, riotous, thugs and may inconvenience them while they’re physically intimidating others and obstructing speech.
Another Education major. Can they see anything that does not make them squeal, “white supremacy!” A term they are using because their overuse of “racist” for the last decade desensitized the country to “racist.” Megan McCardle has a worth reading piece on that, but I fear her advice is too late: Be Careful Who You Call a ‘White Supremacist.
I recommend reading Explaining Postmodernism by Stephen R.C. Hicks, but here is an excellent summary.
For a video tour of postmodernism here’s Dr. Jordan Peterson, also mentioned in a post below. He’s a gem.