This blog focuses on issues and solutions to racism, culture, cultural difference(s), and social injustice(s) for Black and Hispanic students as they develop in families, schools, and communities. RACE (Racism, Achievement, Change, Equity) is a forum for exposing injustices, but also sharing stories, examples, practices, ideas, theories, models, and research for change.

Colblind gifted

this is so naive and colorblind….and out of touch and insensitive… and !!!


Comments on: "Colorblind gifted" (26)

  1. Well, I out in my two cents:
    I didn’t think I would join the fray here but I am still reeling from the blithe acceptance of inequity in mpullen’s Scenario A. Full disclosure: I am one of “those people” – mixed race/African American, degreed and defending my dissertation on gifted Latina/o students at the end of July, public school bilingual educator for over 30 years. Never had the opportunity to work in a school that did not receive Title I funding – or its various incarnations over the years. I now work in my district office in – you guessed it – Bilingual/ESL gifted.

    I am also the parent of three gifted students (and one probably dual-exceptional unidentified) who are hs school graduates. One is an engineer, one is a med student, one is in graduate school, and my 2e son is in college in West Texas. Sorry to disgorge my credentials but I wanted to be clear without holding anything back.

    In this country, race always matters. Or, if I may amend, race and money always matter. Look it up. Our glorious Declaration of Independence gave all men (white men with property) the right to set things up. They did a marvelous job of tilting the deck in their favor to the degree that it has lasted lo these 200+ years.

    (Oh, btw, I don’t hate White people – I’m married to one.)

    What I hate is racism and arguments that refuse to examine the disparate effects of race on nearly everything that happens in the US. I started out being curiously amused that no one was mentioning the gap between White Kids and Asian kids – but I realize now that was too glib.

    Simply put I cannot abide solutions that continue to stack the deck so that those who have always had privilege – even in the event gains are made for people of color – get to maintain that privilege. It’s bait and switch. It’s the poll tax again. Of course you can vote – if you can count the grains of rice in this jar. Of course you can attend the university – if you can meet this standard. That we’ve raised your performance but continue to set a standard only certain people will meet – oh, well.

    Scenario A is Plessy v, Ferguson – separate but equal. Scenario B is the even playing field detractors of affirmative action so often call for. What if things really were equal for all children?

    Please do not congratulate me on the success of my children. They are not exceptions. They have privilege, and I realize that. They also have obstacles. As an educator, I was able to advocate for them as many parents are not in public schools – yes, they attended public schools, and still are, even in college. We can’t afford private education on our salaries. But I taught them at home, too – again, something I had the privilege of doing given my job. I made sure they understood and learned the things about their culture and heritage, and the history of working people, that the public schools would not give them.

    I’ll close with this example, Have you ever heard of Benjamin Banneker? I was thrilled when a distant cousin discovered my children and I are direct descendants of his sister. Because my son learned about him, years ago, from me, he was also thrilled and figured his science aptitude went back that far (he’s the engineer). But most of you won’t understand the joke. The man who built the first clock in what would become the United States and was responsible for carrying out the plans to build our nation’s capital from a swamp is lost to mainstream history.

    And that’s the real problem with common core, with minimum standards, with standardized testing. It gives us standardized learning. It ensures that our children remain ignorant of anything but what a very few want them to know. Otherwise, wouldn’t they apply to the all schools – including the private schools the children most Members of Congress attend?

    • Teddi, I am moved by your personal story and solid examples. Thanks for sharing and caring, and providing much ‘food’ for thought.

    • C.James said:

      Teddi, your mindset boggles me. “Simply put I cannot abide solutions that continue to stack the deck so that those who have always had privilege – even in the event gains are made for people of color – get to maintain that privilege.”

      So if your children’s school had implemented a program designed to close the gap between white gifted students and non-white gifted students would that have been ok? Would it have been ok for them to divert funds from the education of the white gifted students to do it? What if they had then decided that your children didn’t qualify for the program because one of their parents is white…would that have been ok? And if it’s not ok, then why is it ok to decide my child wouldn’t qualify because she has two white parents? Gifted children of all races need to be given the resources to reach their full potential. Holding one back for the sake of the other is racist no matter which race benefits.

      As for your example…I too have an ancestor that was responsible for one of the most distinctive features of a famous building. As a child I heard the story of how that feature came to be many times but never once heard the name of the man who made it happen until the wonder of the Internet made that information available to me. Race had nothing to do with his name being lost to the “swamp of mainstream history”. It’s not always about race.

  2. I’ve always told my students that ‘colorblindness’ is not the panacea for a classroom teacher, not the ideal (that past generations of educators have been led to believe). I give my own experience as an example and then say pointedly: ‘when you look at me I don’t want you to be blind, because that would mean you totally discount who I am, what my experience has been, what my ethnic background is, who my parents are , the challenges I’ve faced and the fortitude I’ve had to overcome. In other words, being blind means you have no understanding nor do you care “from whence I’ve come”!
    Our job as diversity educators in gifted education is to help the field understand the importance of the legacies, ethnic background, traditions, values, norms and experiences of all races/ethnic groups and THEN- we can better understand the experiences of culturally diverse gifted learners. Without understanding ‘from whence they’ve come’, we can never fully address their intellectual and psycho-social needs.

    • Dr. Joy. Thanks for getting deep and concrete. Prejudice and discrimination exist in so many settings. We must all have the common goal of decreasing/eliminating social injustices. A win-win for ALL.

    • C.James said:

      ‘when you look at me I don’t want you to be blind, because that would mean you totally discount who I am, what my experience has been, what my ethnic background is, who my parents are , the challenges I’ve faced and the fortitude I’ve had to overcome. In other words, being blind means you have no understanding nor do you care “from whence I’ve come”

      So when your unblind eye looks at me, what does my white skin tell you about me? Does it tell you that I come from a broken home? Does it tell you that I spent much of my childhood living below the poverty line? Does it tell you that I once went through an entire year of school with no socks? Does it tell you that I lived in terror of having to tell my mother that I required something for school that would cost money because her reaction would be to shoot the messenger? Does it tell you that by the time payday arrived the cupboards were usually bare and I did without breakfast most days and without lunch a good portion of the time as well? Does it tell you that I struggled with undiagnosed ADD (masked by a high IQ and a quiet demeanor that was largely a product of equally undiagnosed clinical depression)? Does it tell you that my parents were too busy with their own issues to pay attention to whether or not I was studying or to ensure I was applying for college or scholarships (I wasn’t)? Does it tell you I was too busy taking care of my siblings to be involved in any extra-curricular activities or to do anything more than the bare minimum it took to graduate?

      So tell me…when you look at my white skin do you understand and do you care “from whence I’ve come”?

      It isn’t always about race unless we make it about race. We are all so much more than our skin color and blood feuds cannot be resolved through the shedding of more blood. If the worst thing you can say about this generation’s teachers is that they are “color blind” then we have come a long way in this country. Treating everyone equally sets the stage for a new generation that truly believes that everyone is equal because it won’t occur to them to think otherwise. Isn’t that the goal we are all working toward?

      • C James ‘when I look at you I consider all of the conditions that could have led to your being you’. I don’t think of you as being just your color, but a human being with experiences and a background that has been impacted by your community, your household, your background, your intellectual & creative potential, your sensitivities (physical, cognitive, affective, etc). There is MORE to each of us than meets the eye. Race DOES matter!! We are working toward a goal of equity is not the same as equally. My job and that of others teaching inservice or preservice teachers is to help them to become more culturally competent- that means they will be able to better understand each student’s experience not because they think all are equal but because they understand and respect differences! There is a body of research/theoretical and practical work that you are completing overlooking and undervaluing in your response. One place to start is with a relatively new book: ‘High Schools, Race, and America’s Future’ by L. Blum. Also work by Cornel West, Gloria Ladson-Billings, Geneva Gay, Paul Gorski, Donna Y Ford, Jaime Castellano, Lisa Delpit, Malik Henfield, Margarita Bianco, Alonzo Flowers, Joy Lawson Davis just to name a few…

      • Race is only an issue because we have for so many years made it an issue and it will not stop until we stop. The differences between us are nurture, not nature. Saying you should be proud of your skin color and embracing the “heritage” that you say comes with it perpetuates the problem every bit as much as the white supremacist flying a confederate flag and claiming he has the right to do the same.

        There’s not a single thing I could tell for sure about you by looking at your skin color. I could make assumptions, but to do so would be racist. I cannot know who you are or what your experience has been. The only thing I would be able to say with complete accuracy is that you have probably experienced racial prejudice at some point in your life…all the more reason to eliminate skin color as a defining characteristic.

        Cultural differences cannot be sorted out by looking at a person’s skin. I have white friends who are as different from each other culturally as they are from my black friends. I have white friends who are MORE culturally different from each other than they are from my Hispanic friends. I would argue that a black Baptist child from a poor single-parent home in California would have more in common with a white Baptist child from a poor single-parent home in California than he would with a black Muslim child from a wealthy two-parent home in New York. To assume that you know anything about their wants, needs, hopes, desires, or experiences by looking at their skin color is to step out onto the slippery slope of racism. Because where does it stop? It’s okay to assume X about a person based on their race but not Y?

        To say that I must look at your skin color to know what you have overcome is to suggest that somehow your achievements are greater than mine but that your failures were inevitable and therefore not your fault. People of all races face challenges. Some succumb, others overcome. Again, you invite racism by forcing me to take your skin color into account when I evaluate your performance.

        Now if you want to talk about viewing each child as an individual and teaching to their needs…I’ll agree with you all day long. One-size-fits-all teaching practices and standardized tests fail children of all races. But I will never agree with Dr. Ford and Ms. Beam-Conroy that white gifted students need to be held back to allow black and hispanic gifted children to catch up. You cannot steal my child’s future and give it to someone else in the name of equality. I want your child to have every opportunity to reach his or her full potential and you should want the same for mine. Anything else is racist.

  3. C. James, from your post, it seems that you are taking race too literally and at a superficial level. Colorblindness is a philosophical ideal — but We (Davis, Beam-Conroy, and I) are talking about CULTURE. The common term is colorblind, but it is more accurately CULTUREBLIND. Culture matters — one of my favorite quotes is ‘the body is the hardware, culture is the software’ (Hofstede). Skin color matters despite your denial (take the Implicit Bias Test). What about racial profiling – skin color; driving while Black — skin color; when people see two couples dating from different race — they first see skin color; and on and on and on. But deeper than that is culture. Yes, we are ALL human and share universal needs and ‘hardware’. This makes us the same — culture makes us different. Go deeper than skin. And you would have be quite naive to not see that Hispanics and subgroups (Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, etc.) have/share a culture and that their culture is NOT the same as with Asians and subgroups (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc.) and Native Americans and subgroups… And Jews, Irish, Polish, Amish… have a culture. And, yes, Blacks have a shared culture. I encourage you to read the material provided by Dr. Davis… Skin color matters — for wrong reasons!! Culture is what we are talking about!

    • C.James said:

      Dr. Ford (and Dr. Davis), let’s not play games with semantics. This blog is called “Race4OurLives” and it’s stated purpose is to focus on “issues and solutions to racism and social injustice for Black and Hispanic students”. You are talking about race. When I say colorblind I mean colorblind. If you mean culture-blind, then that’s what you should say, because they are not the same thing. When I say equality, I mean that we should all have the same opportunity to pursue the full potential of our hopes, dreams, and abilities without interference from anyone because of our race, gender, religion, or any other perceived differences between us. If that’s what Dr Davis means by equity then we are talking about the same thing. If she is talking about advancing the interests of one race at the expense of another to compensate for past discrimination, then we are definitely at odds and I stand by my original assertion that blood feuds are seldom resolved through the shedding of more blood.

      I volunteer in the school tutoring struggling children of all races. Would you not have a problem with me if I was only willing to tutor white children? Yet you focus your energy on promoting the needs of specific races and advocate holding back white children to achieve “equity”. My daughter will be lucky to clear 5 ft as an adult. Studies show height is as important an indicator of future salary as race and gender. Should I be trying to get schools to recognize the special needs of short children and advocate holding back tall children in the name of equity? Of course not.

      Racial bias most certainly exists. But I believe most of it is learned and I truly believe that raising colorblind children (which requires colorblind behavior on our part) is the path to reducing and maybe even someday eliminating it. My daughter has been raised to view skin color as the equivalent of hair or eye color. I have seen absolutely no bias in her at all. She is as happy to play with a child of a different race as she is to play with one of her own. She designated her black doll as me (despite my ultra fair skin) because it had brown hair. She never even made the connection of race. But I wonder how long this can last because I see the bias that is being directed AT her. I see the wariness in the eyes of her friends’ parents when she sees them in the store and runs up to give them a hug. I see the confusion she feels when the child she is playing with at the park abandons her when another child of the same race shows up. Racial bias is not solely an affliction of the white race.

      Race does not determine our culture, it only seems that way because people of the same race trace their ancestry back to the same handful of countries with similar religious traditions and similar environmental adaptations. When they arrived in this country, they were often lumped together in the same communities because of their color and some of their separate traditions became intermingled. But experience has shown me that your religion (and the religion of your ancestors), your socioeconomic level, the region of the country you live in, how long your ancestors have been in this country and where they came from are all more powerful indications of one’s culture than the color of our skin. I have more in common culturally with the hispanic friend that I grew up with, the one I went to school and church with, the one that listened to the same music, ate the same food, and spoke the same language I did than the white friend who has the same ethnic background as I but grew up in a foreign country (one that 20 years ago was an enemy of the US), spoke a foreign language, and belonged to a different religion.

      That being said, I’m all for cultural awareness in the classroom. It’s part of seeing the child as an individual. But cultural stereotypes are as much a slippery slope as racial stereotypes and using skin color to determine culture is a flawed shortcut that leads to continued racial discrimination. You can’t insist that you are the way you are because you are black and then turn around and call me a racist if I say black people do things a certain way because they are black. And sure the hispanic child may be bilingual and need extra help learning to read…but what about the white child whose mother is German and therefore is also bilingual? Will you see her struggles for what they are or assume that she’s just not as smart as the other white kids in the class? When you look at the very brown little boy who is obviously Mexican…will you take the time to realize that his mother is German and that he has an entire cultural identity that cannot be identified by his apparent race?

      Color does matter for the wrong reasons…that has been my point all along. It shouldn’t matter. But it will continue to matter as long as we continue to make it an issue. All children have needs. Some of them may fit the cultural stereotype, many won’t. At the end of the day, we’re all human beings. Let’s stop the “us versus them” mentality and focus our energy on meeting the needs of all children and encouraging all children to reach their full potential regardless of their color.

      • Mrs. James. Race4ourlives is catchier than culture4ourlives. As the owner surely I know the purpose. And it is about the two groups as stated. Your strawman examples are a distractor and you’re ignoring the context. You clearly don’t get it. Nor seem to want to get the points we’ve raised. You are arguing with insiders. Evoking white privilege. This is our life. open your mind to our views and maybe this world will be a better place. I stand by my previous post.

      • Answering hate with colorblindmess is NOT the answer. You are an outsider. Remember that. And you wish to remain so. That’s your choice. I am making my choice. Gotta watch the Trayvon Martin MURDER TRIAL BASED ON RACE. You’re wasting my time. The end!

      • Mrs. James. This blog is not to counsel those with white guilt. Unsubscribe or i will block you. Find yourself true hate blog. Thousands exist. Continue to Rest in ignorance.

      • Mrs. James — where do you live? I am in Nashville. I may be able to meet you in person to go into depth on these VERY serious issues if you really care and want to be enlightened. Or we can talk via cell. For now, I am saying that clearly blogging is not getting us (ME) anywhere…The issues are too complex and too real and too personal. So we need to take this offline and go into depth one-to-one. Let me know if you are willing… then we can exchange info. Of all posts, this is the most promising and gives me hope that change is possible for those who are the most privileged and most in denial about the myriad of problems regarding race and/or culture. note: If you want to limit this complex issue to blogging — impossible and not interested. the ball is in your court.

    • C.James said:

      And another thing…I have many friends of many races. I enjoy learning about the differences in our cultures and I try to be sensitive of them (just as I try to be sensitive of religious and political differences I might have with my friends) but it is the many, many things that are the same about us that have made us friends.

      As a society, we spend far too much time focusing on the differences and taking offense has become a national past-time. I believe that we should focus on the similarities and follow two rules…have good intent and assume good intent.

      You and I want the same things, we just disagree on the path to get there. I think love and tolerance are the way to go but if you prefer anger and hatred, please try to focus it on the true bigots (of which there are plenty) and don’t go picking fights with innocent bystanders as you did in the blog post this one links to.

      • And what perchance is the Trayvon Martin case about? The Paula Deen case about? Why are the majority of hate crimes based on race? And why do we need the Dept of Justice?

      • And have huge nerve accusing me of picking a fight. I neither pick nor back down from fights. And if you do not share the purpose of this blog, then blog elsewhere. Simple as that.

  4. Mrs. James…. so help me out with this… so race does not matter?

    Washington State Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Hate Crime in Attack on Sikh Man
    Defendant Beat Victim Leaving Lasting Injuries
    The Department of Justice yesterday announced Jamie Larson, 49, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Seattle to a federal hate crime relating to a racially-motivated assault of a 50-year-old Sikh man who works as a taxi cab driver.

    According to the documents filed in court, the victim was called to drive Larson to an address in Federal Way, Wash. When the taxi arrived at the destination, the driver got out of the taxi and Larson got out and attacked the driver, grabbing his beard, pulling him to the ground, punching and stomping on his head and body. Larson uttered racial slurs and insults about the victim’s perceived ancestry during the attack. The victim suffered damage to his back, shoulder and kidney. He was hospitalized for more than a week and has undergone lengthy physical therapy.

    “This case is a testament to the Justice Department’s dedication to vigorously investigate and prosecute all racially-motivated attacks,” said Roy L. Austin Jr., Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “It is unacceptable that violent acts of hate committed because of someone’s race and ethnicity continue to occur, and the department will continue to use every available tool to identify and prosecute hate crimes whenever and wherever they occur.”

  5. Dr. Ford, people will try to get you off course when you drive too close to the truth. Don’t waste your time entertaining rhetoric that doesn’t look to truthfully address the real issues of racism and closing the achievement gap “gulf”. Let foolish people reveal themselves and be ensnared by their own words. Stay your course!!!

  6. @DavidRoads: If it is important enough to you, you will find a way. If it is not, you will find an excuse.

  7. It amazes me that the ones inflicting pain, complains when the one on whom the pain is inflicted has the “audacity” to complain or even point out that they are subject to the pain ones inflict! What man would, should stand for this? No man would and no man should, and if this is required any longer be ready for resistance with equal fervency and with GOD on our side!

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