This article shows how equity research in mathematics education can be decentered by reporting the “voices” of mathematically successful African American male students as they recount their experiences with school mathematics, illustrating, in essence, how they negotiated the White male math myth. Using post-structural theory, the concepts discourse, person/identity, and power/agency are reinscribed or redefined. The article also shows that using a post-structural reinscription of these concepts, a more complex analysis of the multiplicitous and fragmented robust mathematics identities of African American male students is possible—an analysis that refutes simple explanations of effort. The article concludes, not with “answers,” but with questions to facilitate dialogue among those who are interested in the mathematics achievement and persistence of African American male students—and equity and justice in the mathematics classroom for all students.
Over the past decade, the mathematics education research community has incorporated more sociocultural perspectives into its ways of understanding and examining teaching and learning. However, researchers who have a long history of addressing anti-racism and social justice issues in mathematics have moved beyond this sociocultural view to espouse sociopolitical concepts and theories, highlighting identity and power at play. This article highlights some promising conceptual tools from critical theory (including critical race theory/Latcrit theory) and post-structuralism and makes an argument for why taking the sociopolitical turn is important for both researchers and practitioners. Potential benefits and challenges of this turn are also discussed.
Amy Noelle Parks and Mardi Schmeichel
This Research Commentary builds on a 2-stage literature review to argue that there are 4 obstacles to making a sociopolitical turn in mathematics education that would allow researchers to talk about race and ethnicity in ways that take both identity and power seriously: (a) the marginalization of discussions of race and ethnicity; (b) the reiteration of race and ethnicity as independent variables; (c) absence of race and ethnicity from mathematics education research; and (d) the minimizing of discussions of race and ethnicity, even within equity-oriented work.