#MathArtChallenge 92: W.E.B. Du Bois Data Portraits

The Challenge: Following the style of W.E.B. Du Bois’ Data Portraits, update or create a graphic demonstrating current data. For example, below on the left is Du Bois’s portrait comparing Black and white occupations in 1890 and on the right is my recreation using the closest set of matching data I could find in 2018.

Materials Needed: Maybe graph paper, maybe simply regular paper and writing tools.
Math concepts you could explore with this challenge: Statistics

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#MathArtChallenge Day 75: Black Lives Matter

I live in Minneapolis. Today, on May 31st, 2020, things are challenging. People keep asking how they can help. So here are some ways you can help.

  1. First, please say out loud with me right now, “Black Lives Matter.” Don’t just tweet it, say it out loud where ever you are. Believe it.
  2. Please do not ask any person of color to do the work for you. That includes putting the onus on them to figure out how you can help.

3. If you are white, talk with your people: your family, your co-workers, your neighbors. It may get uncomfortable, but it is not as uncomfortable as being Black in America. And again, in those spaces, do not put the weight of the work on the people of color. If you hear something along the lines of, “but the protests are so destructive”, point them to the many examples of peaceful protests. Then remind them that peaceful protests have been tried. Colin Kaepernick’s kneel was peaceful. Then, point them to this thread and article which documents many, many, many instances of the police escalating and inciting violence.

4. You can donate to help out at these organizations:

5. And here is an EXCELLENT list of resources to help support the Minneapolis Protests.

6. You can call Mike Freeman, the DA responsible for bringing charges to the police officers. (612) 348-5550

This is a partial and small list. But if you do any #mathartchallenge do this one. I’d love for you to add any additional suggestions in the comments.

Black Lives Matter.

And don’t think that this means we can’t talk the 8 mathematical practices! We sure can.

Depending on how you use this activity, you may engage with different mathematical standards. I’ve listed possible connected math content above. Here are a few suggestions for how you might integrate the 8 mathematical practices. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments! 

1.) Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. How will American society , which is still predominatly white, address the problems of systemic racism? What structural changes can be advocated for so Black Americans live freely and safely in our communities?

2.) Reason abstractly and quantitatively. Why are Black Americans proportionally overrepresented in interactions with police?

3.) Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. In the book, Weapons of Math Destruction, Cathy O’Neil examines the way in which some police departments use algorithms to determine where to send their officers. Study that phenomena and form an opinion as to the merits of those systems.

4.) Model with mathematics. How can you help those who may not yet see the disproportionate experiences Black Americans have with the police see that? What data is useful to collect? What is not? How is your data skewed or representative?

5.) Use appropriate tools strategically. What methods are available to you to help deconstruct systemic racism?

6.) Attend to precision. Avoid speaking in generalities. How is systemic racism present in your life? What can you do about it?

7.) Look for and make use of structure. In what ways is our society constructed in unfair ways? In what ways is it fair? What structures exist that you may or may not have yet noticed?

8.) Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning. There have been way too many names. The problem is not something we can ignore. How will you help?