Apparently JMM 2023 is just around the corner. I will be going. Can’t say I feel great about it, though! For many reasons from a little thing called an Ongoing Pandemic to other less precise concerns about my time, energy, and mental health. But I have plane tickets! And we can pretend, for the sake of not stressing me out, that my talk is written.
It’s so funny to me that the New Year is often thought of as a chance for new beginnings, yet we mathematicians open our year with a Business As Usual Conference. A veritable celebration of job insecurity, cop apologetics, and pretense.
In the past, I was energized to bring discussions of equity to those who consistently opt out of such concerns. I still support that! But I’ve had a hard year…s. So I come today with less fire and more desperation.
I still ask that you #DisruptJMM in a slide if you are a speaker and to encourage others to do so and to use the hashtag like we did before, but I don’t even have the energy (or inner ear stability) to write a full post. Instead I have some questions for you to think about as you plan your disruption.
- Why is there an in-person non-hybrid JMM conference? Why are you participating?
- Did you choose freely? What is the cost?
- Was your ability to choose effected by (lack of) job security?
- Do you know the long term consequences of getting COVID?
- Do you know about the new strain taking over?
- Who isn’t here that should be?
- Who benefits?
- If you are presenting, is your talk a gift, a burden, or a time for polite disassociation for your audience?
- Was this choice freely made? If not, what factors went into it?
- Are the most important messages you would want to share with others contained in your talk?
- Who benefits from your choice of talk?
- Who gets to feel comfortable?
- How many people were effectively denied access due to disability?
- How many Black mathematicians, Indigenous mathematicians, and other mathematicians of color will be othered at JMM, fielding the careless questions and comments of white participants?
- How many trans mathematicians, non-binary mathematicians, and queer mathematicians will be othered at JMM, contending with (perhaps preparing for) the expectations of cis het participants?
- How many women mathematicians and non-women mathematicians will be harassed at JMM? Or have to share space with their harasser? Or have to hear about abusers being celebrated?
- How many junior mathematicians will be made to feel like they don’t belong?
As you prepare to join us in Boston, remember the AMS is not benevolent, academia is not moral, you don’t owe the system anything, but maybe we owe each other safety and a chance at joy.
A few more links for good measure.
- COVID-19 Wastewater Report for Boston (image from Massachusetts’ interactive dashboard)
- The People’s CDC : a coalition of public health practitioners, scientists, healthcare workers, educators, advocates and people from all walks of life working to reduce the harmful impacts of COVID-19.
- Towards a Mathematics Beyond Police and Prisons statement by The Just Mathematics Collective
- Old post of mine on (not) belonging in academia