Special Issue Call: I, Too, Am America! Teaching Mathematics for Empowerment


      Given the current social and political climate of ‘othering’ and rhetoric in the public discourse, to ‘go back where you came from’ the Journal of Urban Mathematics Education (JUME) is calling for papers that focus on the theme I, Too, Am America!: Teaching Mathematics for Empowerment.

      Langston Hughes’ poem, I, Too, Sing America, appeared in his 1926 volume entitled The Weary Blues. The work is an affirmation of cultural and American identity. The issues of identity and belonging are even questioned by young Brown and Black students which allows us to further define the nature and pervasiveness of the issue (Estela Zarate, Bhimji, & Reese, 2005). At a time when overt racism is normalized, it is imperative that scholars of color and mathematics educators affirm the cultural and national identity of teachers and K-12 students of color who are just as much a part of the American fabric as anyone else. Students often experience overt and covert micro-aggressions differently, and they perceive the overall school climate differently (Rosenbloom & Way, 2004). People of color have made tremendous contributions to our American society. W. E. B. Du Bois’ asserted in 1903 that America would not be America without Black people. Likewise, America would not be America without all of its citizens. In this call for papers, we solicit articles that show how the teaching of mathematics with a focus on identity and belonging can be used for empowerment to challenge the ways that whiteness holds power in American society and schools and the violent or oppressive ways in which it protects that power. Previous publications that have similarly dealt with the topic in broad or fine grained analyses in mathematics education can be consulted as exemplars, but they should not constrain or limit the scope of possibilities; such as driving while Black or Brown (Himmelstein, 2013), Black Lives Matter (Leonard, 2019), equal housing (Gutstein, 2013; Ladson-Billings, 2017), and the Flint water crisis (Plumb, Roberts-Caudle, Harper, & Jones, 2017). We welcome new ideas, perspectives, theories, and research paradigms that affirm children’s mathematics learning as well as their cultural and American identity. If you are an international author experiencing these issues in your country, please consider submitting to this call as well.

      Please submit your article to the appropriate JUME section clearly identifying that you are submitting to this call. If you would like to discuss page length exceptions, please contact the special issues editors. Be sure to attach a title page listing all authors and affiliations and a short biography for each contributor. Finally, please acknowledge the funding agency and grant number, using the traditional disclaimer. Articles should be submitted on or before September 1, 2020. Please submit your articles to: https://jume-ojs-tamu.tdl.org to the appropriate section. In your cover letter please be sure to state that your submission should be considered for the special issue I, Too, Am America! Teaching Mathematics for Empowerment. Please email questions or concerns to Dr. Jacqueline Leonard jleona12@uwyo.edu; Dr. Chance Lewis chance.lewis@uncc.edu; or Dr. Imani Goffney igoffney@umd.edu.

The questions below are provided to help clarify the focus of this issue:

  • Does your work involve issues surrounding teaching and/or learning rigorous mathematics?
  • Is your work about a group of individuals engaged with mathematics who have historically been marginalized?
  • Does your work involve connecting current and/or historical events with mathematics learning and empowerment?
  • Does your work address issues of social justice as it relates to suppressing a group of individuals learning processes with mathematics?
  • Does your work provide or recommend solutions to truly uniting our nation through the field of mathematics education?


Du Bois, W. E. B. (2019). The souls of black folk (unabridged classic). New York, NY: Clydesdale Press.
Estela Zarate, M., Bhimji, F., /& Reese, L. (2005). Ethnic identity and academic achievement among Latino/a adolescents. Journal of Latinos and Education4(2), 95-114.
Gutstein, E. (2013). Understanding the mathematics of neighborhood replacement. In E. Gutstein & B. Peterson (Eds.), Rethinking mathematics: Teaching mathematics by the numbers (2nd ed., pp. 101-109). Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools.
Himmelstein, K. (2013). Racism and stop and frisk. In E. Gutstein & B. Peterson (Eds.), Rethinking mathematics: Teaching mathematics by the numbers (2nd ed., pp. 122-128). Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools.
Hughes, L. (1926 & 2015). The Weary Blues. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf. Ladson-Billings, G. (2017). “Makes me wanna holler”: Refuting the “Culture of Poverty” discourse in urban schooling. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 673(1), 80-90. doi: 10.1177/0002716217718793.
Leonard, J. (2019). Culturally specific pedagogy in the mathematics classroom; Strategies for teachers and students. New York, NY: Routledge.
Plumb, A., Roberts-Caudle, C. M., Harper, F. K., & Jones, D. (2017). Flint, Michigan, water crisis: Connecting to local issues in mathematics classrooms. Teaching Children Mathematics, 23(9), 518-520.
Rosenbloom, S. R., & Way, N. (2004). Experiences of discrimination among African American, Asian American, and Latino adolescents in an urban high school. Youth & Society35(4), 420-451.