Thursday 4th June 2020
“If killing Black people has no consequences then all forms of racial discrimination is acceptable”
This is an uncomfortable statement I stated in a previous blog. To solve the problem of racism, there needs to be some uncomfortable conversations. Today and yesterday there has been some high level talks between various Mathematical stakeholders about diversity within the UK mathematical community. A number of mathematicians have said “Yes it good to talk about Black Lives Matter” but what happens next week, next month, next year? What is the next iteration. How can we work out a sustainable solution?
This is not the first time this question has been asked.
In 1969, The leadership of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) recommended to it membership to reject a motion to help underrepresented mathematicians. From this a splinter group of mathematicians formed The National Association of Mathematicians.
The National Association of Mathematicians (NAM) is a non-profit professional organization in the mathematical sciences with membership open to all persons interested in the mission and purpose of NAM which are:
promoting excellence in the mathematical sciences and
promoting the mathematical development of all underrepresented minorities.
Over 50 years on there has been some progress made. NAM are invited to take part Joint Mathematical Meeting with the AMS, Mathematics Association of America (MAA) and have representation on a number of national mathematical committees.
However there are challenges. NAM President Dr Edray Goins wrote this on Facebook in response to the global mood
“I have been debating about posting this for a while now but I will no longer remain silent: I am very disappointed in my mathematical colleagues here on Facebook who are posting black lives matter. Many of you I know from conferences (where you have not pushed for black speakers) or committees (where you have not pushed for black members). You’ve felt happy in quoting back to me the one black person you know (which was usually me) as rationale that you have done plenty. Now you wish to proclaim how much you care about black voices — yet, as president of NAM, I have known for years that you have not bothered to become a member. I can only hope that you will do better if you are truly sincere about promoting black lives in our profession.”
Despite this the mathematical community is better with NAM than without it.
So to make the UK mathematical community more diverse and to get underrepresented voices heard do we need an UK version of NAM?
To talk about this seriously, is the next iteration