Twelve years ago, the Joint Mathematics Meeting was in Washington, DC as the election of President Obama was being certified. The place was electric—full of optimism and hope. Today the virtual Joint Mathematics Meeting started. It was supposed to be in Washington, DC too. I imagine the city is again electrified—this time with hostility and fear.
No more hatred.
No more violence.
No more insanity.
Where’s the humanity?
My answer. Humanity needs to be in mathematics and today I found evidence for it at JMM.
Kicking off the meeting, Dr. Erica Graham spoke from the heart about what antiracist work should look like in mathematics. She was powerful, eloquent, and honest. Her words impacted me and yes, they made me uncomfortable. Her talk was followed by a panel discussion hosted by Carrie Eaton Diaz featuring Pamela Harris, Kamuela (Wela) Yong, and Erica Graham, highlighting the impact of storytelling to create community and amplify voices of black, latinx, and pacific islander mathematicians.
The collaboration hour for MAA’s Committee for Minority Participation in Mathematics had 10 times more attendees than last year. And the irony of participating in a Townhall on Ethics and Mathematical Practices during an insurrection was not lost on me.
Dr. Chelsea Walton needs to write a book on navigating collaboration. Her talk was chock full of common sense, sage wisdom, practical advice, and truth bombs.
Take home lesson: Value the people around you. No one should feel like sh*t. We all want to get back to doing good mathematics.
The day ended with a Drop-In Session hosted by Karen Saxe to discuss, deconstruct, and decompress from the political circus in DC. There were mathematicians of all varieties—learners, teachers, users, creators, and leaders. It was good to process the days events in community. Perhaps the most unexpected and delightful interchange happened as a private message from someone I only just met.
I was humbled.
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