I learned about Whiteness without living it. In solidarity with “under-privileged” students in college, I framed my non-Whitish voice because my experiences were sort of non-Whitish up to that age of 18 as Korean-American. I could “politically pass” for “person of color” although my upbringing was that of the privileged from any cultural standpoint. I was expected to question any bureaucratic tendencies, systems, and institutionalized organizations including Christianity which I grew up in. But that was okay. I could contextualize Asian-American Christian experience and it was marginalized enough to be accepted among the marginalized. The more I questioned the privileged in general, the more I felt accepted by my colored peers. Acknowledging Whiteness helped me find my own niche among the colored. I finally belonged somewhere.
Now I’m trying to extend what Whiteness means in gifted education in the district where I work. I think it goes beyond the color of our skin. It’s anything that constitutes to what has been normed for the majority that would cause any person or group to feel marginalized or go unnoticed. For example, when I look at my school’s data on gifted students, the majority of the student population in the district is White. Secondly, the CogAt and ITBS criteria for gifted services are normed for an average student with strong parental support which inevitably fall into the category of middle class parents in the district. Thirdly, gifted education is not at the forefront of the decision-makers in the district although the 1/3 of the student population is labeled gifted. That leads to the conclusion that the district’s not concerned with the excellence gap.(In the entire district, only 25 teachers are certified in Gifted Education and 13 of them are Gifted Specialists who cannot always be in classrooms with the teachers. Out of the 13, 3 Gifted Specialists are non-White.)
What’s problematic is when my district’s gifted population reflects that of other districts that is urban and diverse. I looked through some online resources to dig deeper into gifted education and I find my assumption to be true. Most gifted interests come from White parents. When I look up articles on Black and gifted, it leads to a string of random articles on why we don’t have enough Black gifted learners and what we need to do about it. Even Hogies’ Gifted Education Page is centered on White audience rather than diversity perspective takings and resources for Black and brown parents. And when I Google up Black, Gifted Services, I run into random sites about dance, music, and other varied interests. Whiteness isn’t just about the skin color; it’s about for whom is the instruction and curriculum normed?
Then the implication the educational paradigm for the gifted learners will be highly biased because it is normed for White parents and students. The gap between non-White and White gifted learners is huge but not having enough teachers on board shapes the pedagogy of every learner in the classroom. I may be invited to co-teach in classroom when the teachers have to cover social justice unit. If race, class, and gender become a topical interest, our black and brown students will always be invisible in our classrooms.
Here are some blogs and other resources I compiled to educate myself about gifted education for non-White learners:
https://blackandgiftedblog.wordpress.com/ : Forget normalized Black gifted learners. The author compiled different Black voices to celebrate their unique expressions.
http://www.blackenterprise.com/education/young-gifted-and-black-high-iq-6-year-old-suspended-twice/ : “Young, Gifted and Black: High IQ 6-year-old Suspended Twice
http://wearegifted2.blogspot.com/2012/10/raising-gifted-african-american-maleone.html : Blogs about raising gifted Black children