Series: Racial Justice

RJEM in 12: Dr. Jennifer McCray on Why Racial Justice in Early Mathematics Matters

RJEM in 12: Dr. Jennifer McCray on Why Racial Justice in Early Mathematics Matters
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We are excited to launch RJEM in 12, a series of short and insightful interviews with researchers, teachers, community members, and other stakeholders whose work advances racial justice in early mathematics.

Our first guest is Dr. Jennifer McCray, Associate Research Scientist and Principal Investigator of the Collaborative as well as co-chair of the Racial Justice in Early Mathematics Project. Dr. McCray is a former preschool teacher who now teaches adults about early childhood and studies how these adults learn.

In this interview, Dr. McCray shared how she first became interested in racial justice in early mathematics and talked about some of the complexities that emerge from having an overwhelmingly white teacher population teaching a student body that is majority composed of children of color. Dr. McCray also spoke about the role of institutionalized mathematics education in the U.S. and the importance of guaranteeing that children, especially children of color, have opportunities to develop their inherent mathematics abilities early on. For Dr. McCray “no one is invulnerable to injustice” and it is paramount for educators to be invested in promoting justice.

At the end of the interview, Dr. McCray invites teachers, especially those who might not be directly impacted by antiblackness, antibrowness, and other forms of racial discrimination, to

  1. commit to learn about white supremacy, antiblackness, and other forms of systemic oppression;
  2. listen to the voices of those who are made most vulnerable in US society, and
  3. take action to change their practices and contexts they occupy. As Dr. McCray said, “racial injustice is everywhere, including in early mathematics and we should be aware of it”.

Click on the video to watch the full interview. Be sure to share it in your networks and social media!