Monday, July 1, 2024

My Problems with Math

We're in this together.

Many forms of mathematics leave me dazed and confused. That frustrated my father and he attempted repeatedly to assert that I believed *women* couldn’t do math. 

It wasn’t true. No. 100% no. 
The fire of his belief always took me aback.

Unlike some, I cannot compartmentalize groups of people based on some specific trait. Why not? It would be so much easier to say:

Women can’t do A. They can do B.

Black people can’t do A. They can do B.

Indigenous people can’t do A. They can do B.

Non-binary sexual orientations or genders can’t do A. They can do B.

Those with disabilities can’t do A. They can do B.

Those A’s and B’s vary by the descriptives pulled by those making these judgements. The A’s can be (and have been) things like going to high school, going to college, running a company, owning a home, living in a town, getting loans, going to the bank across town, getting married, driving, going to this school, being a doctor, earning a living wage, and more. What are some others you thought of?

After I started this list, I realized that there really isn’t a “Men can’t do A. They can do B.” category. Then I had to add a condition: Is there an assumed filter or bias (By me? By all?) on that term “Men”? Is it only *white* men? Do they have a “can’t” or would it be more accurate to say theirs is closer to “don’t need to”? Or “don’t even consider doing”? I wonder.

I haven’t yet touched on the problems relating to the subjects in the can/can’t statements I sketched out: Women. Blacks. Indigenous. LBGTQIA. People with disabilities. For example, race is a construct. It’s emphasized by those in power to maintain that power. Gender was also used to be a “solid” way to divide us into 2, until our knowledge expanded and the problems of this “gimme” of categorization and ranking became apparent.

What is my point? It takes effort to change our thinking, but there are goals we should work into our realities:

I can’t do math well. But anyone who can should have the opportunity to fly with their skills. (Colleges have banned a host of categories of people over the years. Today, affordability is a huge hurdle.)

I can get married. Anyone who wants to should have the opportunity. (Different races weren’t allowed to marry each other for quite a while. More is needed.)

I can get a divorce. Anyone who wants to should have the opportunity. (Women used to not be allowed to divorce their husbands. No fault divorce is in jeopardy.)

I can’t run fast. Anyone who can should have the opportunity to fly with their skills. (Different people have been not allowed to compete in all kinds of sports at different times over the country’s existence. Why do we still have male/female categories? Couldn’t we have a range of inclusive leagues with different abilities?)

The list goes on and on. We’ve never been perfect as a country. We have evolved. Both of those statements are true and the additional truth is that we can and must do a lot more to be bigger people. It won’t freeze us into the inability to act. It will allow us to maximize our potentials and alleviate hurt. It won’t make us lose our identity. It will help us see our species more clearly.

Humanity is capable of both exquisite beauty and monstrous ugliness. Each new day is an opportunity to move the needle a bit further. Let’s remember that each dawn and each sunset.

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