For many people, this year has seemed to bring only negativity. We have felt pain, peril, and impatience as the year has taken the breath out of us. We have also been met by fear and uncertainty in the few moments where we have been able to take a deep breath. Not to mention the discomfort and insecurity that comes with not knowing if it will all be over in a few months, or last for another four years. However, in my eyes, all of the turmoil and unrest the year has brought is also serving the purpose of changing the future of our experiences in mathematics and statistics for the better.
I am pleased to be writing this letter on behalf of the Center for Minorities in the Mathematical Sciences. This center has been created from the desires, wants, and needs that have been expressed across many conversations, workshops, panels, social media posts, and town hall meetings. The mission of the Center (currently only virtual) is to create a community space for the exchange of information and ideas that center and promote Black, Indigenous, and Latinx mathematicians and statisticians, or as I prefer to say “our people”. The Center will be a place where we don’t have to hope we are included. I want the Center to be about starting our own collaborations, controlling our own images and narratives, growing our community, and enriching the lives of our people.
I also envision the Center bringing our community together in new and exciting ways that allow for bold and innovative ideas to be brought to life. This includes mathematics faculty, statistics faculty, mathematics educators, postdocs, students, industry professionals, teachers, and our local communities.
The Center that you are able to explore today is not a final product, it is the result of a few of us putting in many hours to get it started. What it will become with your vision and contributions will be immeasurable. The Center is what WE make it. As a start, please contribute by subscribing to the calendar, connecting with the Center on social media, and creating a robust profile in the database. Another easy way to contribute is to offer suggestions about resources and content that you wish to see on the Center’s site.
For many of us, mathematics is part of our daily lives and gives to us dearly. Mathematics provides us with jobs and careers. It empowers us to be progressive in our thinking and design. It is logical and creative. Quite often it also fights back. While mathematics has been so generous, it is the people who give it purpose and bring it to life. Our people are a part of the origin story of the mathematical sciences and we will always be a part of its future.
The Center is about changing the narrative about where we show up and how we show up in its biography. As negative as 2020 may have been, the hope is that the Center will be a bright spot in that narrative, signalling a new dawn for our people. I am enthusiastic about the future of our community.
Director, Center for Minorities in the Mathematical Sciences (CMMS)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Michael Young is an Associate Professor and Director of Diversity in the Department of Mathematics at Iowa State University. His primary research area is Discrete Mathematics, particularly graph theory and combinatorics, where he studies anti-Ramsey theory and zero forcing. He also has a focus on equity in mathematics classrooms, as well as diversity and inclusion in mathematics graduate programs.