Serie: Racial Justice

Using Math to Learn about Racial Representation in K-2

Using Math to Learn about Racial Representation in K-2

RJEM at Work highlights the everyday efforts of caregivers, community organizations, teachers, researchers, and educational institutions to promote racial justice in the mathematical experiences of children. For the RJEM Local Planning Committee, there are multiple ways to foster racial justice in early mathematics. As such, RJEM at Work aims to showcase a diverse set of practices. By doing so, we hope not only to share interesting work but also to inspire action at different levels and points of entry in the area of early mathematics education.

This video features the work of a group of K-2 teachers and one instructional leader – Kristen Burke, Amy Christensen, Dora Cottrol, and Holy Tate – that was highlighted at the 2022 Promising Math Conference. Their insightful presentation highlights how they used mathematical concepts to explore racial representation in their classrooms in one public school in Alexandria, Virginia.

While collecting and interpreting mathematical data from books and classmates, students engaged with questions of fairness, justice, and how to address representational inequalities. Because such work was implemented in different grades, it also exposes some of the particularities and possibilities of engaging in racial justice in early math at each grade level.

We welcome suggestions of practices to be featured in the RJEM at Work series. Please reach out to us at to share your work and/or other recommendations.