Rupturing antiblackness in mathematics education research: Blackquantcrit as theory, methodology, & praxis

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Antiblackness and white supremacy are embedded in mathematics education, which is (re)produced and justified through epistemic violence in research. Research on the “achievement gap” is one well-known example of epistemic violence in mathematics education research where antiblackness is encoded into statistical archives. These quantitative master narratives position Black doers and learners as mathematically illiterate and normalize ideological discourses about Black inferiority, impacting research, policy, and praxis. Thus, this manuscript-style dissertation aligns with calls to advance mathematics education research, policy, and practice toward liberation for Black learners. The three studies in this dissertation employ two distinct but complementary theoretical frameworks, Black Critical Theory (BlackCrit) and Quantitative Critical Theory (QuantCrit), to advance our understanding of supporting and creating liberatory mathematics education, particularly for Black doers and learners of mathematics.

In the first study, “Common Denominators: QuantCrit as a means of contextualizing antiblackness in mathematics education,” I argue for including Black Critical Theory and Quantitive Critical Theory in mathematics education research. This conceptual paper foregrounds the contributions that QuantCrit and BlackCrit provide to larger critical conversations centering race and antiblack racism in mathematics education and provides a primer on how these frameworks could be applied to mathematics education research by scholars.

The second study, “Black Mathematics Teachers and the Master’s House: A Black QuantCrit Analysis,” empirically explores BlackCrit and QuantCrit using secondary data on 74 Black mathematics teachers in an alternative certification program and their dispositions towards teaching racially and culturally diverse students. I partitioned the teachers into structurally similar and practically relevant clusters using K-means clustering. The findings reveal four clusters of Black mathematics teachers: Hegemonic Academics, Individual Actors, Disruptive Conductors, and Caring Custodians. The results of this study provide insights into the utility of intraracial comparisons. Additionally, this study complicates ongoing discourses in education about improving the lives of Black doers, learners, and teachers in mathematics by recruiting and retaining more Black teachers.

The third study, “BlackQuantCrit as a North Star: Critical race research workshop for Black graduate students in Mathematics Education,” draws on critical ethnographic methods to explore the cultural practices of four Black graduate students whose research attends to mathematics education (BGMER) as they participate in a collaborative research workshop. The Black graduate students participated in six two-hour workshops as they learned about and applied BlackCrit and QuantCrit to their research. Data analysis (e.g., audio transcripts of the six two-hour workshops, field notes, the researchers' analytic memos, and other resources shared during the workshops) identified three salient themes: Antiblackness is Verb, CRT as North Star, and Care is a Verb. The findings in this study illuminated the types of support BGMERs need to become critical race researchers and how they take up BlackCrit and QuantCrit in their work.