Literature, chock full of references to white cisheteronormative shitlords, was first on the racism chopping block. Timeliness and striving for greatness, goals often considered worthy, couldn’t escape the dreaded R-word. Now mathematics, arguably the least racially charged subject, isn’t woke enough for academia.
Three British professors recently claimed that statistical analyses have been weaponized to “serve white racial interests” within academia and beyond.
Led by David Gillborn, a professor at the University of Birmingham, the professors argue that math serves white interests because it can “frequently encode racist perspectives beneath the facade of supposed quantitative objectivity.”
If that word salad has you scratching your head, you’re not alone. Statistics by nature are designed to measure certain issues within a set parameter of data. How a string of numbers can “encode racist perspectives” is beyond comprehension.
“Contrary to popular belief, and the assertions of many quantitative researchers, numbers are neither objective nor color-blind,” Gillborn and his team assert in their article for the journal Race, Ethnicity, and Education.
Numbers are not neutral because “quantitative data is often gathered and analyzed in ways that reflect the interests, assumptions, and perceptions of White elites,” they contend, adding that even so-called objective analysis fails to take the pervasiveness of racism into account.
Reaching this conclusion requires a sharp left turn off the tracks towards [ableist slur]town. Two plus two equals four. Ten multiplied by ten equals 100. “White elite” perspective has no say in the result. Numbers don’t reach a system of oppression towards minorities or the oppressed.
Despite this, the shut-ins of the ivory tower have a solution to make math “woke” enough for public consumption.
To address the racism numbers reinforce, the professors advocate for the adoption of “QuantCrit”—a portmanteau for “quantitative analysis” and “critical race theory.” Quantcrit, they say, has five key tenets, including that “numbers are not neutral.”
Other key tenets of QuantCrit theory include realizing that math tends to legitimate existing racial inequalities, acknowledging that numerical analyses disadvantage minorities, and understanding how numbers play to the benefit of white interests.
Do what now? Math legitimates existing racial inequalities? Is there no absurdity outside academia’s reach?
Lumping mathematics under the dome of “racism,” as with many other disciplines, only serves the purpose of rendering actual racism meaningless. Yes, we have a long way to go in our collective struggle to address racism, and some people still harbor the lunatic mindset those without white skin are inferior.
Adding numbers to the problematic masses just neuters the real, ugly racism in our lives.