Today I am on strike from mathematics, responding to the call to ShutDownSTEM and spend the day working to create a plan for and carry out anti-racist action in my life and work. My collaborators and I have cancelled all meetings. I am not writing or reading academic email. Instead, I am reading and learning. I am writing to my state legislators about how a police reform bill and broader criminal justice reform are essential steps against systemic racism in our state. I am thinking hard about how my research, teaching, and way of interacting in the mathematical and academic communities can help to dismantle institutional racism instead of perpetuating it.
Until today, I hadn’t updated my website since 2017, and I haven’t written much publicly in the last few years for lots of reasons. Writing is hard and takes a lot of time. There are other important, often marginalized voices telling their stories. I want to take the time to listen and learn from others, and to honor them. I feel rusty in writing now and it’s hard to know exactly what to say in this post. But this is my website, which definitely qualifies as my own tiny sphere of influence, and one of the goals of #ShutDownSTEM is for each of us to take action within the spaces where we have influence. So here it goes.
I’m outraged by the killing of George Floyd, and it is devastating that so many others have been killed and hurt by police brutality, racist policing, and other forms of institutional racism and oppression. This is wrong. White privilege makes it possible for white people to avoid engaging with the reality of racism in America, but this avoidance is also deeply wrong. We need to do the work of anti-racism every day. Saying something here, so anyone who wants to look me up on the internet must at least see this sentiment, is one tiny part of it, but there is so much more we need to do. I’m working on it, and if you are too, I want to work with you.
I am sending my love and deepest sympathy to the family of George Floyd today, and to every person who has been impacted by all of the tragedies of racism. I’m grateful to the hundreds of thousands of people who have kept George Floyd’s name on the front pages of local papers across the country with their protests. I’m thankful to every person who has ever talked to me about anti-racism and tried to teach me how to help. I’m angry that Black people and other people of color in America are in danger all the time, and have reason to fear those that are meant to protect us all. I am angry about the unequal opportunity and the thousand additional burdens borne by people of color in America. We should all be angry about this.