Empowering Black Mathematics Students Through a Framework of Communalism and Collective Black Identity



Black/African American, Black political thought in education, communalism, culture, mathematics education, race


In this paper, we speak to the ways that Black people have consistently strategized and advocated for rights and the education of their children through communal efforts related to a collective Black identity. We use a framework of Black X Consciousness and ontological Blackness to nuance the ways that Blackness is internalized and taken up by members of this group and assert that although Blackness is a unifying factor, diversity in ideologies and goals exist. The ways that Black people have historically worked through these issues in hopes of achieving better education for their children is especially highlighted, along with the ways that these communal ideals may be utilized as forms of capital for Black children learning mathematics. Given this understanding, we also assert that what is generally culturally relevant for the collective may not be as prominent or relevant among various Black identities. In addressing the question of how to cultivate a mathematics education that is culturally relevant for Black children in particular, we discuss how our predecessors taught us that communal ontologies are instrumental in a) shaping the curriculum of a mathematics education worthy of Black children and b) shaping the facilitation of teaching and learning to which Black children are exposed.

Author Biography

Nickolaus Ortiz, Georgia State University

Nickolaus Alexander Ortiz, nortiz1@gsu.edu, is a mathematics teacher educator and researcher in the Department of Middle and Secondary Education at Georgia State University in Atlanta.  His research interests deal with Black/African American students and the impact that their teachers have on their performance and appreciation for mathematics. He studies how ontological Blackness is manifested and/or stifled during high-quality mathematics instruction that involves, for example, teaching for conceptual understanding and utilizing mathematics discourse. Also, Dr. Ortiz utilizes hip-hop and Black vernacular in his approach to culturally relevant mathematics pedagogy.


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