Hello, all! My name is Claudio Jacobo Gómez-Gonzáles and I am an incoming postdoc at the University of California at Irvine. I am recently graduated from the University of Chicago, leaving behind my union and Labor Council and almost all (except Nati!) of the best friends I made in the last six years of my life. Beginning a postdoc in the middle of a pandemic has been hard—I am grappling with relapsed depression, at times I feel utterly disconnected from my research and my new workplace, and my family is dealing with a lot of economic uncertainty. Through various circumstances, I have found myself living not too far from where I grew up—in Albuquerque, New Mexico—as we look for a place to live in Irvine. It’s a tumultuous time, even just in my own little personal life.
But! All is not lost. My new mentors are frankly stupendous, I’m so excited for the graduate students that I’ll get to work with, and my postdoc cohort is big and diverse and beautiful. In fact, we just had our virtual kickoff event for the year and I reached out to ask if folks would like to set up 1:1s so that we can get to know each other and feel a little less alone—eight people have written back so far and I’m hopeful for more!
Now, I feel like I should mention my old blog real quick.
Those of you who know me might have heard me talk about critical math pedagogy. After my union went on strike in Spring of 2019, I had a pretty basic but profoundly visceral realization: what we do in the classroom and what we do in the streets are both in pursuit of a better world. Remember, workers are powerful because we actually have a crucial function—when we stop doing our work (like when teachers and researchers go on strike), we exert power directly on our bosses. But I now understood, as so many before me have, that worker revolts can and should have many forms. We can outright stop our work, yes, but we can also organize to radicalize our functions (like when teachers build and embrace radical pedagogies) as an equally important form of unending struggle towards liberation.
Simply put, witnessing collective power in the face of oppression profoundly changed the way that I want to enter pedagogical spaces. I later learned, thanks to Dr Cheryl Richardson, that what I want has a name: critical pedagogy. Fortunately, I’ve had two great opportunities to practice a critical math pedagogy in the time since the Strike of ’19, through the Collegiate Scholars Program at Chicago. You can check out my old blog on the subject, if you’re interested, though sadly I wasn’t able to finish documenting either of the classes we taught—the first because I started too late and unexpectedly entered the job market, the second because of a pandemic, post-PhD depression, and unexpected anxiety about coming home. Please let me know if you want to hear more about this work!
Anyways, I’m starting a new blog now. This is partially for myself, just to keep an intentional space to document this new chapter of my life, but also with the hopes that I’ll be able to continue putting together STEM course materials and make new friends to work on these projects with. There are some amazing people doing anti-racist mathematics in the Southern California area whom I’m so excited to meet, there are some folks in my fellowship cohort (from all sorts of disciplines) who seem great, there are totally rad organizations right here where I grew up (like the Red Nation!), and in general I’m excited to be a part of new communities. Grad school was deeply isolating in so many ways and I’m hoping that the next few years might be different. I’ve met some incredible Black, Native, POC, queer, trans, disabled, leftist, and just downright badass mathematicians in the last year and all I can say is that I wish I had met them sooner. Here’s to tomorrow!